The Tuileries Garden is a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was eventually opened to the public in 1667, and became a public park after the French Revolution. In the 19th and 20th century, it was the place where Parisians celebrated, met, promenaded, and relaxed.
Garden of Catherine de Medicis
The gardens in 1576, engraving by Jacques I Androuet du Cerceau. (The engraving also includes a plan for the expansion of the palace which was never executed.)
In July 1559, after the death of her husband, Henry II, Queen Catherine de Medicis decided to move from her residence at the chateau of Tournelles, near the Bastille, to the Louvre Palace, along with her son, the new King, François II. She decided that she would build a new palace there for herself, separate from the Louvre, with a garden modeled after the gardens of her native Florence.
At the time there was an empty area bordered by the Seine on the south, the rue Saint-Honoré on the north, the Louvre on the east, and the city walls and deep water-filled moat on the west. Since the 13th century this area was occupied by workshops, called tuileries, making tiles for the roofs of buildings. Some of land had been acquired early in the 16th century by King Francois I. Catherine acquired more land and began to build a new palace and garden on the site.
The Tuileries Garden in 1615, where the Grand Basin is now located. The covered promenade can be seen, and the riding school established by Catherine.
Catherine commissioned a landscape architect from Florence, Bernard de Carnesse, to build an Italian Renaissance garden, with fountains, a labyrinth, and a grotto, decorated with faience images of plants and animals, made by Bernard Palissy, whom Catherine had ordered to discover the secret of Chinese porcelain.
The garden of Catherine de Medicis was an enclosed space five hundred metres long and three hundred metres wide, separated from the new chateau by a lane. It was divided into rectangular compartments by six alleys, and the sections were planted with lawns, flower beds, and small clusters of five trees, called Quinconces; and, more practically, with kitchen gardens and vineyards.
The Tuileries was the largest and most beautiful garden in Paris at the time. Catherine used it for lavish royal festivities honoring ambassadors from Queen Elizabeth I of England and the marriage of her daughter, Marguerite de Valois, to the future Henry IV.
Garden of Henry IV
King Henry III was forced to flee Paris in 1588, and the gardens fell into disrepair. His successor, Henry IV (1589–1610), and his gardener, Claude Mollet, restored the gardens, and built a covered promenade the length of the garden, and a parallel alley planted with mulberry trees, where he hoped to cultivate silkworms and start a silk industry in France. He also built a rectangular basin 65 metres by 45 metres with a fountain supplied with water by the new pump called La Samaritaine, which had been built in 1608 on the Pont Neuf. The area between the palace and the former moat of Charles V was turned into the “New Garden” (Jardin Neuf) with a large fountain in the center. Though Henry IV never lived in the Tuilieries Palace, which was continually under reconstruction, he did use the gardens for relaxation and exercise.
Garden of Louis XIII
The Tuileries Garden in 1652 with the Parterre de Mademoiselle east of the Palace
In 1610, at the death of his father, Louis XIII, age nine became the new owner of the Tuileries Gardens. It became his enormous playground – he used it for hunting, and he kept a menagerie of animals. On the north side of the gardens, Marie de Medicis established a school of riding, stables, and a covered manege for exercising horses.
When the King and court were absent from Paris, the gardens were turned into a pleasure spot for the nobility. In 1630 a former rabbit warren and kennel at the west rampart of the garden were made into a flower-lined promenade and cabaret. The daughter of Gaston d’Orleans and the niece of Louis XIII, known as La Grande Mademoiselle, held a sort of court in the cabaret, and the “New Garden” of Henry IV (the present day Carousel) became known as the “Parterre de Mademoiselle.” In 1652 “La Grande Mademoiselle” was expelled from the chateau and garden for having supported an uprising, the Fronde, against her cousin, the young Louis XIV .
Garden of Louis XIV and Le Nôtre
Tuileries Garden of Le Nôtre in the 17th century, looking west toward the future Champs Elysees, Engraving by Perelle.
Le Nôtre’s Tuileries Garden plan, engraving by Israël Silvestre (1671)
The statue of Renommée, or the fame of the king, riding the horse Pegasus, (1699) by Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720) at the west entrance of the Garden. originally in the estate of Louis XIV at Marly, moved to the Tuileries in 1719
The new king quickly imposed his own sense of order on the Tuileries Gardens. His architects, Louis Le Vau and Francois d’Orbay, finally finished the Tuileries Palace, making a proper royal residence. In 1662, to celebrate the birth of his first child, Louis XIV held a vast pageant of mounted courtiers in the New Garden. which had been enlarged by filling in the moat of Charles V and had been turned into a parade ground. Thereafter the square was known as the Place du Carrousel.
In 1664, Colbert, the superintendent of buildings of the King, commissioned the landscape architect André Le Nôtre, to redesign the entire garden. Le Nôtre was the grandson of Pierre Le Nôtre, one of the gardeners of Catherine De Medici, and his father Jean had also been a gardener at the Tuileries. He immediately began transforming the Tuileries into a formal garden à la française, a style he had first developed at Vaux-le-Vicomte and perfected at Versailles, based on symmetry, order and long perspectives.
Le Nôtre’s were designed to be seen from above, from a building or terrace. He eliminated the street which separated the palace and the garden, and replaced it with a terrace looking down upon parterres bordered by low boxwood hedges and filled with designs of flowers. In the centre of the parterres he placed three basins with fountains. In front of the center first fountain he laid out the grand allée, which extended 350 metres. He built two other alleys, lined with chestnut trees, on either side. He crossed these three main alleys with small lanes, to create compartments planted with diverse trees, shrubs and flowers.
On the south side of the park, next to the Seine, he built a long terrace. called la terrasse du Bord-de-L’eau, planted with trees, with a view of the river He built a second terrace on the north side, overlooking the garden, called the Terrasse des Feuillants.
On the west side of the garden, beside the present-day Place de la Concorde, he built two ramps in a horseshoe shape and two terraces overlooking a octagonal water basin sixty metres in diameter with a fountain in the centre. These terraces frame the western entrance of the garden, and provide another viewpoint to see the garden from above.
Le Notre wanted his grand perspective from the palace to the western end of the garden to continue outside the garden. In 1667, he made plans for an avenue, with two rows of trees on either side, which continued west to the present Rond-Point des Champs Elysees.
Le Nôtre and his hundreds of masons, gardeners and earth-movers worked on the garden from 1666 to 1672. But, in 1671, the King, furious with the Parisians for resisting his authority, abandoned Paris and moved to Versailles.
In 1667, at the request of the famous author of Sleeping Beauty and other fairy tales, Charles Perrault, the Tuileries Garden was opened to the public, with the exception of beggars, “lackeys” and soldiers. It was the first royal garden to be open to the public.