Cultural Essay: Luxembourg Gardens

Living so close to this large and magnificent public garden, I decided it would be the perfect place to observe and understand the daily routines and culture of Parisians. I have now been to visit and relax in these gardens on multiple occasions, so I was able to try and focus on capturing and taking in the everyday occurrences and routines of the locals. I feel as though this place reflects French mentality and culture because it is a place that people go to everyday. It is a location where many tourists visit because of its’ fame, but it is also located in a very busy and populated part of town that is convenient for locals. Many sites or areas that we have visited throughout this study have been very touristy or not places that are part of everyday life for a Parisian. I wanted to find a place where I could be part of where I was and not just a person passing by. The concept that one place can fit the personalities and activities of people of all ages amazes me. While sitting on a bench “reading” my book, I decided to watch different groups of people, and the wide varieties of people in the gardens amazed me.
For the teenagers, the gardens tend to be used as one of their local “hang out” places. They find an area in the shade or just sit in a group somewhere chatting, laughing, and a few groups even had picnics or wine. It is not a huge event or gathering, but rather a place where they can really enjoy each others company. For the Parisians who looked to be about our age, this really seemed to be a relaxation spot. Many were either sunning and reading a book or just sitting on two chairs listening to their music and dozing off every once and a while. With the Faculte de Pharmacie being right near the gardens, I saw many students and professors come into the park on their afternoon break. The older generations of everyday garden-goers tend to come to the park mostly for a stroll and a short chat on a bench. There were also single (alone) parents who would walk in the park with their children or bassinettes, but I often noticed that the majority of single parents in this area attracted men. It seems as though Parisian men who live in the area find this to be a peaceful location where they can bring their children and still have time to sit and read the paper instead of walking through the busy streets or staying in the house.
This park not only captures the everyday passing and actions of the French people, but also the activities that the French enjoy. I got off the metro one day when I was coming into the gardens with two boys who were just going to play tennis, while on another day an few older women were playing ping pong together.
Culture here seems to truly reflect their enjoyment of life and the relaxation that the Parisians seem to know is a necessary part of life. A lot of the time, I think Americans as a culture in general don’t take time to “smell the roses” when they really need a break, and this place just perfectly captures the way that the French view life: taking life one step at a time and enjoying it all the way.

1 comment:

Susan said...

holy cow I just realized I never made it to the étaing at all last year! obviously must remedy that this year - very cool pics Rachael! merci! and as always your unique and objective ideas are super thought-provoking! you might be the most circumspect person in last year's group!