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A CAROUSEL IN THE JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG

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The Jardin du Luxembourg is the magnificent showpiece park of Paris.

From Spring through Fall its flower beds are groomed to perfection.

On frosty Winter afternoons, garden chairs around the boat pond face towards the sun, and children do what children do in any park, in any season…they run and play. But this park is special, sprinkled with statues and sculptures, tennis courts, an aviary, a bandstand for concerts. The list goes on, all against the backdrop of Marie de Medici’s Luxembourg Palace.

It’s a sweet, old-world experience, whatever draws you to this park. The vintage puppet theatre, Les Marionettes du Luxembourg with its charming, witty shows, still packs em in on Wednesday afternoons (half day of school for kids) and on weekends. Then there is the carousel.

It’s not ornate. It looks rather humble compared to some, but has very aristocratic roots. Charles Garnier, the architect who designed the opera house named after him, built this manege (French for merry-go-round) in 1879, which makes it the oldest one in Paris. Children scurry around the platform, trying to choose between the elephant and reindeer, because the camel is spoken for, and then strap themselves in for the ride.

The carousel man comes around to pat the animals’ heads, check the belts, and he hands each child a wooden stick. Sticks. Riders and lookers-on are already having fun. There’s something about a stick, especially when snagging a ring is at stake.

The motor is switched on, and the twirling begins, each child eager for full-speed, for the next opportunity to try for a ring. Cries of frustration and gleeful yelps signifying success mix with claps and words of encouragement from parents.

Suddenly the world has become a softer place. Nothing can burst the bubble. It’s all about the wooden animals, children, laughter, sticks and rings.

It feels like it’s happening too soon, the carousel losing speed, the end of the ride. Please, just a minute or two longer, another photograph of little James on his pony as he goes spinning by.

He begs to go around just one more time. It’s an awkward moment, time to move on and do something else, but children don’t have that kind of adult need to always be changing the landscape.

Alas, the belts are loosed and little cherubs reluctantly pet their mounts and whisper goodbye. A bientot! See you soon.



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