The ubiquitious Parisian pleasure grounds, the Jardin du Luxembourg was in fact modeled on the Boboli Gardens in Florence to remind the formidable Marie de Medici of her native home and the palace she had built in the gardens was also modeled after the Pallazzo Pitti in Florence. So we see here the influence that the Italian style had on French architecture during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
The Medici fountain we see today next to the palace, while charming, is greatly altered from the original. After the style went out of fashion in the 18th Century the fountain was neglected and fell into disrepair. Bits of it disappeared and eventually it was restored with new additions the most notable being a marble Venus in her bath. Then, when Haussmann was remodelling Paris the whole fountain was shifted 30 metres to make way for the new rue de Medicis and the big basin was added in the front.
What most people do not know is that on the back of the fountain is another fountain relocated from another part of Paris. The fontaine de Léda was created in the First Empire and was at threat of destruction during the Haussmann renovations and was stuck to the back of the Medici fountain where it now rests, mostly forgotten and hidden.
Next time you are in the Jardin du Luxembourg to take a peek behind, check out Leda dallying with her swan and remember to ask anyone else “Have you seen the Leda Fountain in the Jardin du Luxembourg?” and smile smugly to yourself when they say “No”.