Above all, it's a nice place to sit

With spring just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about how to best take advantage of the warm sunny weather. Public places are key to helping people "smell the flowers" and enjoy these precious times of year. One place that has figured out how to do it best is Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Its mix of beautiful focal points, trees and flowers, activities, and comfortable seating offers residents the perfect way to relax, gather, and enjoy the gifts of spring, as well as every other time of year. The universal appeal of Paris's beloved Luxembourg Gardens is that it makes people feel welcome to eat, relax or stroll. But most of all, it invites them to take a seat.

The underlying secret to this success are 4500 moveable chairs— which  can be rearranged to allow people to sit together in a group; to move their seat into the sun on a cool day, or into the shade on a hot one: to read, nap or watch the passing parade of park-goers. These moveable seats give people the power to shape their visit to the Gardens in the way that suits them best and thus make it as pleasant and comfortable as possible, which keeps them coming back.

The moveable chairs make Paris's premiere park so popular

Chairs that people can adapt to suit their needs offer everyone a sense of ownership in the place

Luxembourg Garden's portable chairs date back to the mid-19th century when the French Senate, which still manages the park, started renting chairs for ten centimes (one tenth of a franc). The chairs we know now, which are an international design icon, were unveiled in 1923. In 1974, they became free for everyone to use and in 1990 were redesigned to be more lightweight and durable.

But there are a multitude of other reasons that people come to Luxembourg Gardens—cafes, playgrounds, games, sports facilities, cultural exhibits, art, a puppet theatre, bee hives, a fruit orchard.  Each of these places have their own eco system.

Luxembourg gardens creates the perfect environment for relaxation, fun, and affection.

And it isn't just the movable chairs that make the garden's seating so great. There are also a variety of lovely benches throughout.

The seating makes people feel at home because its variety and flexibility allows them to find the position they feel most comfortable.

Since the chairs can be used solo or pulled together to be used with friends, this moveable seating option makes every configuration of garden visitors possible and supports every kind of social dynamic. The seating people choose can say a lot about who they are.

The Top Social Space in the World?

Luxembourg Gardens is the best public place in Paris—and possibly the world.  As a treasured city asset, it has thrived because it pays attention to the simple idea that comfort for its citizens and visitors is of paramount importance. Having just a nice place to sit is often the foundation for sociability and joy that is so critical to human civilization.

Luxembourg Gardens bustles with people year-round in every kind of weather

The sheer appeal of the the place naturally fosters a wide range of activities that reach out into the surrounding community

Ongoing art exhibits

The Takeaway from Luxembourg Gardens:

The quality of seating makes all the difference between a merely good public space and a truly great one.  The moveable chairs in Luxembourg Gardens are a key reason this park is beloved by almost everyone who visits. This simple idea can be carried out  in communities all over the world—enlivening the feel of downtowns, plazas, parks, public buildings, cultural institutions, anywhere in town.  
The mission of the Social Life Project is to incite a renaissance of community connection in public spaces around the globe. Through our online publication, presentations, campaigns, and catalytic projects, we can create transformative impact on communities everywhere. Our work grows out of more than 50 years devoted to building the global placemaking movement. It is an initiative of the Placemaking Fund, along with PlacemakingX — a global network of leaders who together accelerate placemaking as a way to create healthy, inclusive, and beloved communities. We gladly accept donations to advance our work.

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