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.
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.
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.
The Carrousel, also known as the Place du Carrousel, is a part of the garden formerly enclosed by the two wings of the Louvre and by the Tuileries Palace. In the 18th century it was used as a parade ground for cavalry and other festivities.
The central feature is the Arc de triomphe du Carrousel, built to celebrate the victories of Napoleon, with bas-relief sculptures of his battles by Jean Joseph Espercieux. The garden was remade in 1995 to showcase a collection of twenty-one statues by Aristide Maillol, which had been put in the Tuileries in 1964.
The elevated terrace between the Carrousel and the rest of the garden used to be at the front of the Tuileries Palace. After the Palace was burned in 1870, it was made into a road, which was put underground in 1877. The terrace is decorated by two large vases which formerly were in the gardens of Versailles, and two statues by Aristide Maillol; the Monument to Cézanne on the north and the Monument aux morts de Port Vendres on the south.
Two stairways descend from the Terrasse to the moat named for Charles V of France, who rebuilt the Louvre in the 14th century. It was part of the old fortifications which originally surrounded the palace. On the west side are traces left by the fighting during the unsuccessful siege of Paris by Henry IV of France in 1590 during the French Wars of Religion.
Since 1994 the moat has been decorated with statues from the facade of the old Tuileries Palace and with bas-reliefs made in the 19th century during the Restoration of the French monarchy which were meant to replace the Napoleonic bas-reliefs on the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, but were never put in place.
The Grand Carré is the eastern, open part of the Tuilieries garden, which still follows the formal plan of the Garden à la française created André LeNôtre in the 17th century.
The eastern part of the Grand Carré, surrounding the round basin, was the private garden of the King under Louis Philippe and Napoleon III, separated from the rest of the Tuileries by a fence.
The Grand Couvert is the part of the garden covered with trees. The two cafes in the Grand Couvert are named after two famous cafes once located in the garden; the café Very, which had been on the terrace des Feuiillants in the 18th-19th century; and the café Renard, which in the 18th century had been a popular meeting place on the western terrace.
The Grand Couvert also contains the two exedres, low curving walls built to display statues, which survived from the French Revolution. They were built in 1799 by Jean Charles Moreau, part of a larger unfinished project designed by painter Jacques-Louis David in 1794. They are now decorated with plaster casts of moldings on mythological themes from the park of Louis XIV at Marly.
The Orangerie (Musée de l'Orangerie), at the west end of the garden close to the Seine, was built in 1852 by the architect Firmin Bourgeois. Since 1927 it has displayed the series Water Lilies by Claude Monet. It also displays the Walter-Guillaume collection of Impressionist painting
On the terrace of the Orangerie are four works of sculpture by Auguste Rodin: Le Baiser (1881–1898); Eve (1881) and La Grande Ombre (1880) and La Meditation avc bras (1881–1905). It also has a modern work, Grand Commandement blanc (1986), by Alain Kirili.
The Jeu de Paume (Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume) was built in 1861 was the architect Viraut, and enlarged in 1878. In 1927 it became an annex of the Luxembourg Palace Museum for the display of contemporary art from outside of France. During the German Occupation of World War II, from 1940 to 1944, it was used by the Germans as a depot for storing art they stole or expropriated from Jewish families. From 1947 until 1986, it served as the Musée du Jeu de Paume, which held many important Impressionist works now housed in the Musée d'Orsay. Today, the Jeu de Paume is used for exhibits of modern and contemporary art.