Parisian Park Chairs: A Brief History of the Green Icons

January 9, 2022
Green chair Tuileries Garden

These days, Saturday mornings are for writing. But first, coffee.

I roll out of bed, turn on the kettle, sleepily spoon out grounds into my french press, and pull out my mug. But not just any mug- Saturday mornings call for my Green Chair mug.

What is a Green Chair mug, you ask? Why it is this little coffee cup I found on the clearance corner at TJ Maxx soon after I moved back from Paris that made me cry big, fat, ugly nostalgic tears the moment I laid eyes on it.

Those green chairs are a bright symbol of all things publicly Parisian, and just seeing them transports me back to many an afternoon reading a book in the Tuileries or sunbathing by the Luxembourg fountain.

I could hear the dull, scraping noise as tourists or Parisian teens would drag a chair or two across the garden’s gravel path so everyone in their party could have a seat. Sometimes this was impossible- every single green chair tends to be taken on pretty summer days in the Luxembourg gardens, even with many couples sharing a chair.

Who knew a chair could be so heavily laced with nostalgia?

But it’s not just me! The green chairs of Paris have become a true style icon.

The brightly-painted green chairs that can be found in the gardens of Luxembourg, the Tuileries, and Palais-Royal have been around since 1923, when the Paris Parks Department came up with this new design and began placing these bright, sturdy metal chairs throughout the different gardens. Though never chained down or protected in any way, their heavy frames and bright coloring dissuaded locals from removing chairs from the proper place in the parks; thus the City has stuck with this design for almost a century.

What started as practical design has turned iconic! Fermob, the French furniture design company, not only continues to produce these chairs for the City of Paris, but has created the public Luxembourg Collection, where you can order the same chair design in 24 colors for $1,200 a pop. Today, it is one of their most popular pieces and what they call “an expression of French culture in furniture form.”

So obviously, I bought the mug.

And when you visit Paris, be sure to partake in the very Parisian tradition of sitting, reading, or napping in one of these green beauties between visiting the Louvre or rummaging through bookstores in the Latin Quarter.

Green park chair locations in Paris:

Luxembourg Gardens
Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin du Palais-Royal

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