The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, France

The paths, gardens, and fountains of the Left Bank park in the upper reaches of the Latin Quarter are laid out regimentally—just as the French liked everything in the 18th century.

The atmosphere, however, is far more organic, with lots of strolling families, the fantastic Medicis Fountain (built—along with the palace—for Italy-born French Queen Marie de' Medici in 1612), and a huge apple and pear orchard called the Verger de Luxembourg tucked into one corner.

This is a real people's park, littered with students from the nearby university, kids playing on the swings or gazing at the shows in the little puppet theater, and old men tossing the boules around (that's that game played with bocce balls that lies somewhere between horseshoes and bowling).

The grand Italianate palace at the center, now hosting the French Senate, is open only on certain Saturdays (usually once per month); you have to book tickets at least two weeks ahead at +33-01-44-54-19-30 (www.senat.fr).

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