One of Strasbourg’s finest features, beyond that of its historic buildings, is to be found north-east of the city centre facing the Palais de l’Europe. Here stands the Parc de l’Orangerie – a masterpiece municipal facility.
Andre Le Notre, who created the gardens at Versailles, is said to have first drawn the plans for the park in the seventeenth century, but it was when the city inherited 140 orange trees after the revolution, and a pavilion was built to house them, that the park got it’s name. The Germans though are credited with much of the park’s current appearance following the Strasbourg exhibition of 1895.
Today the park is home to a stork hatchery, a mini zoo, a mini farm, an ornamental boating lake (with grotto, waterfall and fountain), a bowling alley, two restaurants, three play areas for children, a Greek temple, a skateboarding area, a mini football pitch and a fairground ride.
But it doesn’t stop there, the city spends a great deal on the park all year round. The Pavillon Joséphine (named after Napleon’s bit of fluff) plays host to a variety of events and exhibitions throughout the year. The ground staff are at work permanently keeping the flower beds blooming, the grass cut, and organising other seasonal features (such as adding palm trees for the summer, and Christmas trees in winter). Best of all – the park is practically poop-free, unlike certain other parks in the locality.
So needless to say the park is a magnet for the Strasbourgeois, particularly at weekends when the sun is shining. Although it can feel a bit crowded on Sunday afternoons there is usually more than enough space for you to enjoy a bit of greenery. It could be the perfect park, were it not for one thing … joggers.
Okay, not all joggers, I exclude the ones with rippling muscles who get up at 5am every morning and plod around the park out of sight of the rest of the world. It’s the ones who get up in the morning and say to themselves “I feel fat and unhealthy. I know I’ll go for a jog this afternoon.” And where do these people choose to go jogging? Along the canals? Around the parliamentary buildings? Around Wacken island? No. They choose to go to Strasbourg’s beauty-spot: the Orangerie.
If there’s one thing that ruins the park’s ambience it’s the site of ugly people (for all joggers are ugly) in ill-fitting Lycra, sweating, wobbling and blowing their way along the footpaths. So do us all a favour you people – go and jog somewhere else!