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Paris is a marvelous, invigorating city with many corners to explore but sometimes you have to make like a Parisian and go to the park to escape it all. The Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement near the Sorbonne and only about a mile from St. Michel and the Seine River is just right for that.

On a hot day, the 23-hectare (57-acre) park is packed with people just lounging on the lawns, listening to free concerts, or enjoying ice cream, like when I was in Paris during a heat wave in 2013, when I passed through the park and snapped this photo.

Jardin du Luxembourg a Paris escape

Jardin du Luxembourg is a wonderful Paris park to hang, run, sunbath, escape the city

The popular space, originally created in the early 1600s by Marie de’Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, is actually owned today by the French Senate, which meets in the imposing building on the north side. Thus, don’t be put off by the stern-looking officers standing tall patrolling the outside of the building – and if the French are engaging in some protest there will likely be well-behaved protestors on the street side of the building chanting and singing when news cameras show up.

Jardin du Luxembourg is an oasis

The Jardin du Luxembourg, however, serves another purpose for those seeking a little exercise, like myself: It is also a green oasis in the bustling city that allows a pretty decent walk or run among gardens, down tree-lined promenades, and away from traffic – one loop of the park is about 1.25 miles but if you cross the Rue Auguste Comte on the south side and do a tour of the small finger of green, you can get in another half-mile (that finger is about a quarter mile from end to end). And although the French seem pretty intent on running one methodical loop after another, feel free to crisscross here and there to tour the rest of the park, circle the water basin, or even pause to take in the Medici Fountain, which is one of the park’s attractions.