Summertime chess in iconic Paris park

Bastille Day blitz!

If you happen to be in Paris and are passionate about chess, there’s no better place to enjoy the game, either as a player or as a spectator, than at the Jardin du Luxembourg

During the summer, on average, more than 25 players match wits daily in the 17th century park that is located in the tres chic 6th arrondissement of the French capital. 

Twenty years ago, the French senate decided to provide a dozen tables — five fixed, seven mobile — with chess boards painted on the surface using screen printing technique. These table tops are made of enamelled lava stones that were extracted from the volcanic mountains in the Auvergne region of central France

A Sicilian Stunner – The Kalashnikov

This increasingly popular opening is easy to pick up as the Black pieces can usually be developed quickly and smoothly. Many of the ideas are thematic and Black can achieve attacking positions in several of the variations.


Volcanic rock from the Auvergne region

Everyone is welcome

The table tops are large to accommodate chess clocks adjacent to the boards whose squares are alternately painted in sepia and white.

Almost everyone here plays blitz chess, with the 3-minute time control being the most popular. These fast paced encounters demand a certain skill set from players who have to constantly think on their feet.

This format guarantees entertaining chess as pieces tumble and clocks take severe pounding as the two rivals try to make the best moves by using least time. 

While many games are decided by the clock, there are some that produce a checkmate like this one, played on Sunday, July 14th (Bastille Day!), between 1900-2000 Elo rated players, which you can watch in real-time below. White delivered checkmate with just two seconds left on his clock!

The Sicilian Rossolimo for White

The Rossolimo Variation 3.Bb5 is considered to be one of the strongest replies to 2…Nc6 in the Sicilian Defence. The fact that the move has been played by practically all the top players proves its popularity and strength. But the most interesting aspect of playing 3.Bb5 is that we force sharp, attacking players who love to have the initiative to forget about the Open Sicilian and to adjust themselves to a new world, one full of positional ideas, manoeuvres and nuances.


These chess tables are located in a corner of a huge garden that spreads over an area of 25 hectares. The garden boasts a host of other attractions, so it’s suitable for a visit by anyone.

(Left) Statues in Luxembourg park depict French queens | (Right) Author Stefan Zweig

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There are new initiatives to help players and fans alike find chess destinations wherever they are. The European Chess Union has launched, which is focused on Europe but has aspirations to expand.

At the moment, the chess tables at Jardin du Luxembourg are not on the ChessWhere map, but you can find them on the recently re-branded Chess Map app (formerly Le Chess Connection) for iOS.

A growing catalogue of chess tourist destinations, courtesy Chess Map

Google Map to Jardin du Luxembourg
Chess Map App (iOS only)