In the heart of the famous 6th arrondissement, just around the corner from the Latin Quarter, you’ll find the expansive and delightful Luxembourg Gardens. Escape from the city hubbub and go statue-spotting (there are 106) in these Italianate gardens commissioned by Marie de’ Medici in the 17th century, where the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau liked to stroll.
But before you get there, stop off in Rue de Fleurus for a bite to eat at Bread and Roses, tucking in to a lunch platter featuring one of the many breads freshly baked on the premises. What makes this bakery and restaurant stand out is the mouthwatering taste of their organic bread: a favorite is the einkorn served with sardines. If you like, you can even take it with you for a spur-of-the-moment picnic in the park. You’ll also find British favorites like carrot cake, and there’s even a little deli where you can stock up on cheese and bread.
For dessert, carry on a little further to Christian Constant, one of France’s most famous chocolatiers. Fashion designer Sonia Rykiel is a regular, and one of the pâtisseries is even named after her. A good tip if you’ve got a sweet tooth is to try the cinnamon-centered Soleil noir or the unequaled cocoa, raisin, and whisky sorbet. Wash it down with a Dammantea, created especially for Christian Constant, a sweet floral blend that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Continue along Rue de Fleurus and you come to the gates of the Luxembourg Gardens. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, turn right and head for the glasshouses, where you’ll find blossom and pear trees by the Lycée Montaigne. This is a particularly romantic spot in the spring, but if you’re here in late September, you’ll be just in time for the Honey Festival, so make a beeline for the hives in the center of the park and snap up some of the honey.
If you’re more of a culture vulture, turn left at the entrance and head for the Musée du Luxembourg. Often ignored by visitors, this museum, built onto a wing of the former Medici Palace, has always been a center for art. It is said that Ernest Hemingway discovered impressionism here—the Luxembourg Gallery was Europe’s first museum of contemporary art. Once you’ve had your fill of culture, follow it with a sugar rush from an amazing hot chocolate at the Angelina tearoom. You won’t be able to say no to the house specialty Mont Blanc dessert, in a choice of flavors.
You can then snooze off your overindulgence by the lake in the middle of the park, a popular model-boating spot for kids, before checking out the Medici Fountain. For many decades, there was a grotto here, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that it was turned into a fountain. The nearest exit will take you straight to Marie-Antoinette’s Théâtre del’Odéon.
If you want to round things off with some retail therapy, a stone’s throw from here in Rue Madame, you can refresh your wardrobe at the must-see A.P.C. store. Or to end the day on a floral note, treat yourself to a magnificent bouquet from Rosebud, a florist next to the theater on Place de l’Odéon.