Situated just west of the imposing Louvre Museum and former palace, the lush formal garden in central Paris known as the Jardin des Tuileries is part of the same-- originally royal-- complex.
One of the most ornate and lush of the capital's gardens, it's pronounced "TWEE-luh-Reehs", named after the tile factories that stood here from as early as the medieval period. Transformed into extravagant gardens for the monarchy during the 16th century and made into a public space after the French Revolution, the Tuileries is a highly recommended stop for any first-time trip to Paris. This is especially true during the spring, when the gardens burst into vibrants colors.
But far more than a pleasant park whose blooms and meticulously trimmed shrubbery make it easy on the eyes and a nice place for a walk, the Tuileries is soaked in centuries of French history. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site, part of the historic stretch alongside the Seine riverbanks of Paris to be named as precious cultural and historical territory.
First established as the royal gardens of the Franco-Italian Queen Catherine de' Medici in 1564, the Tuileries boasts elegant statuary from French sculptors including Aristide Maillol and Auguste Rodin; tree-lined lanes perfect for a Romantic stroll, and ponds where kids can sail toy sailboats and adults can laze around on chairs, resting their feet after a long morning of sightseeing. It also houses two onsite museums featuring masterpieces from Claude Monet and rotating exhibits in contemporary art and photography, restaurants, and an annual fair that kids will delight in.
From Monarchy to Revolution & Republic: A Garden Teeming With History
- Known as a center for tile manufacturers and potters since the medieval period, The Tuileries became a royal garden in the 16th century under Queen Catherine de' Medici. She wanted to fashion a palace and gardens in the image of her native Florence after the death of her husband, King Henry II.
- She ordered the construction of the (since-destroyed) Palais des Tuileries and commissioned André le Nôtre to design lavish formal gardens visible from the Palace. Unfortunately, the palace was destroyed in a terrible fire during the "French Commune" of 1871.
- Originally intended as private gardens for Medici and later for Louis XIII and XIV, royals strolled in the Tuileries as a sign of their privilege and respectability; it was only after the French Revolution of 1789 that the gardens were opened to the general public.
- During the early 18th century, as the garden was further developed, statues from leading artists were commissioned under the reign of Louis XV to complement the topiary, trees and flowers. Sculptors have continued to erect pieces there ever since, making the Tuileries an important locus for contemporary art and creation. See below for more details on museums and art collections on the premises.
What to Do at the Tuileries: Main Highlights
In addition to being a wonderful place to stroll, sun and read on green metal chairs overlooking the verdant terraces, there are myriad things to do and enjoy at the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Those interested in botany and plant species will not be disappointed to a trip to the gardens: stretching over 30 hectares, the Tuileries boasts some 35 species of trees, and dozens of varieties of flowers-- from annuals to perennials-- blossoming in the spring and summer months, particularly in the central beds known as the "Grand Carré". The astounding symmetry and beauty of the gardens is owed to the famous royal landscape architect Andre Le Notre, who also designed gardens at Versailles and the lesser-known, but remarkably harmonious, Chateau Vaux-le-Vicompte.
For sculpture lovers, the garden, like its sister at Luxembourg, qualifies as one of the capital's great open-air museums. Dozens of remarkable statues from renowned artists including Rodin and Maillol grace the premises; contemporary artists also regularly install pieces here, including for the occasion of the FIAC, the city's annual contemporary art fair.
Kids can enjoy sailing toy boats on the appealing man-made ponds, taking advantage of the many permanent playgrounds at the garden, the trampolines and pony rides, and the annual fair/carnival in the summer months (see below for more information).
Finally, aimless strolling through the vast premises, exploring the different thematic gardens and relaxing around the fountains, is a pastime enjoyed by locals-- even during their lunch breaks. Take advantage of the relaxed ambience and use the time here for some simple contemplation.
Annual Fair/Carnival at the Tuileries
One annual event that locals and tourists both adore at the garden is the annual fair/carnival, which sees a variety of fun rides (log flume, ferris wheel roller coaster, games and prizes, local treats, ice cream and cotton candy etc) take over the north side of the garden (on the Tuileries metro entrance side) for several weeks. The fair generally runs from late June through August. The kids will especially enjoy this one.
Eating Out at the Tuileries: Onsite Restaurants
There are three onsite eateries at Les Tuileries, making a quick or formal meal an easy possibility.
- La Terrasse de Pomona is an informal snack bar, and is open year-round during the same times as the gardens (see above for more info.
- The Café des Marronniers is a good choice for an informal bite. Open Monday-Sunday, 7:00 am-9:00 pm.
- The Restaurant Le Médicis is a good choice for a more formal meal-- reserve ahead if possible for early dinner especially. The restaurant serves lunch from 10:30 am-5:00 pm and dinner from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm.
The Orangerie Museum: Home of Monet's Breathtaking "Nympheas" Series
One of the most-overlooked little spots in the capital. the onsite collections at the Orangerie Museum include Claude Monet's impressionist masterpiece, his Nympheas (Water Lilies) series. The enormous panels were painted between the World Wars as a symbol-- and hope for-- global peace. In the midst of a harried day of touring and walking around, this is one of the best spots in the capital for a little contemplation and meditation.
Location: Place de la Concorde
The Jeu de Paume Galleries: Contemporary Trends
Right next door to the Orangerie Museum, the Jeu de Paume National Galleries offer one of the best spots in the French capital for exhibits on contemporary art, photography and film.
Location: 1 Place de la Concorde
Location & Getting There:
The Jardin des Tuileries is situated n Paris' 1st arrondissement (district), immediately west of the Louvre Museum, stretching alongside the popular, tourist-heavy thoroughfare of Rue de Rivoli to the elegant Place de la Concorde. It's also just a stone's throw from one of Paris' most popular, and high-fashion, shopping areas on and around Rue St-Honoré.
- Address: Jardin des Tuileries: Rue de Rivoli/Place de la Concorde
- Metro: Tuileries (Line 1)
Admission, Opening Hours & Accessibility
Entry to the gardens is free for all visitors, and the Tuileries is open all year, including most public holidays. You must vacate the garden 30 minutes prior to closing times.
- From the final Sunday in March to May 31st, and September 1st to the last Saturday of September, the gardens are open between 7:00 am to 9:00 pm.
- From June 1st to August 31st, the garden is open between 7:00 am to 11:00 pm.
- From the final Sunday of September to the last Saturday in March: 7:30 am to 7:30 pm.
All entrances to the garden and many of the paths are wheelchair-accessible: these include the three main access points at 206 rue de Rivoli, place de la Concorde and place du Carrousel. There are also facilities for visitors with hearing, visual and mental disabilities. For more information on visiting Paris with disabilities, see this page.
Sights and Attractions Nearby
- Louvre Museum: Visit the renowned collections at the massive museum and former royal palace before or after taking a relaxed stroll through the Tuileries.
- Place de la Concorde: This grand, busy square is marked by the striking Luxor obelisk, an Egyptian monument that is over 3,300 years old and that was gifted to France in the late 1990s. From the immense, chaotic square, you can glimpse the beginning of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, stretching to the Arc de Triomphe in the distance.
- The Concorde also has a fascinatingly dark history: the guillotine was established here after the French Revolution of 1789; both King Louis XVI and his wife, Queen Marie-Antoinette, were executed here, along with many other political dissidents and royal figures.
- Palais Royal: This lovely square and former palace is an ideal place for boutique shopping and relaxing for a few moments in the sun. It was the former home of King Louis XIII and prior to that, the Cardinal Richelieu; the latter built it in 1692. There's also a 3-star Michelin restaurant, Le Grand Véfour, at the north end of the galleries.
- Palais Garnier: Take a stroll up the grandiose Avenue de l'Opera to reach this opulent former opera house (now the home of the National Ballet; operas are primarily performed these days at the Bastille Opera).