Weíve annexed the Luxembourg Gardens. About a block away from our hotel, they are now only about six blocks square, although 300 years ago they were much larger. But that's perfectly adequate for our use. In the morning, before it gets too hot (I know itís a joke to think of just the upper 80ís as hot, but air-conditioning isnít common here) itís a perfect place for a run. A couple of loops around the inside of the outer fence, with a dip down through the narrow Observatoire Park to the south, is about three miles. There are quite a few joggers at that time of the morning, lately including a troupe of young menmilitary?who are in various stages of fitness, as they separate into several groups on successive circuits.
On Sunday, everybody comes; the young women bringing Grandmamaand her dogfor a glace overlooking the pool of the Medici Fountain, while father plays boules at another end of the park, and the children ride the little horse-headed tricycles in yet another area.
On any evening, when the sun begins to dip below the trees, the crowds leave and we "natives" have it to ourselves. The part we most enjoy is in the center, behind the Palace, originally built by Marie de Medici, the widow of Henri IV, who didnít get to occupy it for longshe made the mistake of crossing Cardinal Richelieu. Composed of several large formal squares, each with closely-cropped grass in the center (which only the pigeons dare trod), and a border of red, yellow, orange, purple, pink, and white flowers (I'm sure know Betty Lou knows all their names), with a backdrop of oaks and plane trees, and in the distance the apartment buildings of the privileged; itís a great place to decompresseven to write a note on the laptop.
At 8:45, as signalled by the chime from the Palace clock, we hear the sounds of distant ... birds? The chirping becomes louder, and we realize that the Gendarmarie are enthusiastically notifying us with their whistles that itís time for the "fermeture" of the park. Well, weíll be back tomorrow.