Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Le jardin des plantes

This is the Jardin des Plantes in the town we are living in. It is a park for walking, sitting on a bench, and admiring the flowers. Stepping onto the grass for any reason is interdit (forbidden), and there are signs all over the park to remind you of this rule.

That large tree at the edge of the pond is a magnolia. I was pleasantly surprised to see one this far north.

There are lots of shade trees in French parks, for which we are very grateful. Today got up to about 27 Celsius. That’s about 85 Fahrenheit and pretty hot for this region, especially when you consider that air conditioning is a luxury reserved for tourists and businesses that use a lot of sensitive electrical equipment.

Colorful flowers, artistically arranged under shade trees, a couple of swans, and a pleasant waterfall. All of this is carefully tended to provide a serene and beautiful retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life. All right, the French don't really hustle and bustle, but parks are a good place to read your book, take a nap, or just get out of your apartment for a few hours.

Of course, no French park would be complete without the bust of a serious-looking man and a few statues of naked women. This guy did something important I think. You can tell by his neat appearance and stern expression. Either that or he is irritated that he was placed next to the public toilets and not in the sight line of the other statues.

The white statue is a nymph apparently doing a breast self-examination. She is looking over her shoulder at serious-man, but she needn't worry because he can't see her. Even if he could, he's no threat, He may have clothes, but he doesn't have a body. He's as harmless as the black knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The bronze statue depicts a woman doing her morning stretch. The pose isn't clear from the statue’s plaque, which reads: la matinee. She certainly is putting on a show, but the word has to do with morning, not a film for early birds. I'm guessing she is stretching. Or maybe she's holding her hair up as some imaginary servant bathes her. It doesn't matter what she is doing. Naked women are art. Just ask Justin Timberlake. But just in case you got the wrong idea, fondling the statues is also interdit.

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