Le Jardin du Luxembourg & Parisian Beauty

 

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence – high school Intern

Palazzo Pitti

The Luxembourg Garden, Le Jardin du Luxembourg, is an iconic Parisian monument that boasts over 25 hectares of land. Within those 25 hectares (or about 62 acres) of land, the park hosts statues, fountains, tennis courts, flowerbeds, ponds, and even a theatre! The Luxembourg Garden is without a doubt among the most extravagant gardens in the modern world; designed to reflect the Palazzo Pitti of Florence, the gardens mark the luxurious lifestyle of the old French monarchy and elite class. Although designed to imitate Italian architecture and design, the French location has thoroughly impacted the aesthetics of the garden throughout the years.

 

The Origins

When King Henri IV was assassinated in 1610, his wife, Marie de Midicis, ordered the construction of the Luxembourg Garden. Burdened by the memory of her husband, Marie de Midicis grew tired of the Louvre, which then acted as a palace for the monarchy, and desired a fresh start. Marie’s fresh start manifested as an entirely new palace: the Palais du Luxembourg. Surrounded by the now-famous Luxembourg Gardens, the palace and estate were designed to imitate the Palazzo Pitti, Marie’s childhood home. Completed in 1625, the original gardens were only eight hectares in size, but continued to expand until 1790. One of the lead gardeners on the job was Tommaso Francini, who designed two of the terraces along with the Palais du Luxembourg and constructed the Medici Fountain, the most famous fountain in the gardens. 

Luxembourg Gardens

 

Expansions & Renovations

Tuilerie Gardens

In 1630, additional purchases from the government expanded the size of the Luxembourg gardens . This expansion project was guided under the direction of Jacques Boyceau de la Barauderie. Baraduderies had previously worked on the gardens of Chateau Versailles and in the Tuileries Gardens. Imitating earlier French styles, Baraduderies created a system of geometric gardens and attractions. Perhaps the most notable of these was the octagonal fountain constructed in the center of the new gardens. To this day, children use this fountain for activities such as model boat racing. After these additions, the gardens were largely ignored throughout the reign of the next few monarchs. In 1780, King Louis XVIII sold some lands, about 10 acres, to pay for the restoration of the site. This land was later confiscated following the French Revolution and added to the gardens once more. 

 

Arc de Triomphe

King Louis’ renovations were headed by the famous architect Jean Chalgrin, who was also an architect on the Arc de Triomphe. Chalgrin preserved the older French styles of architecture, even as he added new and increasingly modern elements to the gardens.  Many of the essential sites remained intact, including the nurseries and vineyards. Chalgrin added his own flair, of course, through elements like the addition of a path that lined the length of the garden, from the palace to the observatory. The original terraces are still intact today and line the main path in the Luxembourg Gardens. Statues began to adorn the paths of the gardens in 1848 after the fall of the July Monarchy in France. All of this would change, however, when Paris began to take a different direction under new leadership.

Luxembourg Gardens

 

 

Medici Fountain

Under Napoleon III, the gardens were renovated once more. This time, to put roads through them. One road ran right over the Medici Fountain, which was taken down and reconstructed. To date, the Medici Fountain remains in this new location. Additions were made as well, specifically the ornamental gates and fences, a significant factor in the garden’s elegant aesthetic. These features were constructed by Gabriel Davioud, who had already overseen the construction of many statues throughout the city. Devious also designed the Pavillon Davioud, a brick garden house that strikingly resembled the English style at the time. 

 

Legacy

Example of monument

Once the garden’s many renovations were completed, the site became a harbor for preserving French culture. In particular, statues and models would find homes within the gardens, ranging from busts of famous politicians, poets, or philosophers to a model of the Statue of Liberty. This collection of French cultural hallmarks is ever-expanding. More recently, recreational additions have also been added, including tennis courts, basketball courts, playgrounds, etc. All of this has produced a site that truly exemplifies the Parisian beauty that we have all come to recognize. 

World of French: Haiti

Written by Jasmine Grace,
High School Intern 

Prologue

FAC members & friends extend sympathy and solidarity to our afflicted Haitian friends and to the Haitian-American communities who are concerned for their affected relatives and contacts on the island.

Many organizations are working to aid the Haitian recovery effort. For those looking to make a donation, consider these organizations:

Hope for Haiti

Locally Haiti

Haitian Health Foundation

 

Beautiful Haiti

Haiti on the Island of Hispaniola

Mountains dominate the western third of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean and hold island valleys, plains, and plateaus. In this tropical landscape lies the nation of Haiti. It is home to incredible people with a unique culture and boasts an impressive history. 

Hispaniola was originally home to the Taíno kingdom before the arrival of Europeans. The Spanish came first and the French joined them. They soon began to fight, and in 1697 Spain gave France the western third of the island. The French turned this land into the colony of Saint Dominique and shipped in African slaves to work the sugarcane and coffee fields. This colony became the wealthiest in the French Empire in the 18th century. 

General Toussaint

By 1791, the slaves who had done all the labor to gain that wealth were tired of their predicament and revolted. They took control of the northern part of the colony and went to war with their former masters. In 1804, they beat the French and gained their independence. They renamed their new nation Haiti, which would become the second oldest republic in the western hemisphere. 

Because of the mixture of native, African, and French influences, modern Haiti is home to a unique culture. Creole and French are the nation’s official languages, and most of the country’s literature is in one of these tongues. Most writers are part of the intellectual elite, so literature often contains leftover French influences. The subject of this literature often relates to the political turmoil or hurricane disasters Haiti has experienced. 

In contrast, the art of Haiti is bright, cleverly humorous, and innovative. Commonly featured on canvas are stunning local landscapes or cultures. Art is often themed or tied to indigenous or African traditions, cultural aspects, or religion.

Tchaka

Another marvelous art in Haiti is the cuisine. As with most other things in Haiti, it is a blend of different cultures and influences. Staples include beans and rice, as well as tropical fruits. Chicken, beef, and goat are common proteins. Foods are often simple, but spicy, with a twist of bold flavors. Some popular dishes include tchaka, a squash and meat stew, and riz national, a rice dish with beans, vegetables, and sometimes fish.

 

 

Although the nation of Haiti has experienced conflict over the years from various sources, it is a beautiful place, geographically and culturally, with a complex history.

A Beautiful Island Nation

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