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Chess Meccas: Paris

Given it's love for the arts and penchant for romance, it is no surprise that the first historical record of a chess game in Paris, France is an 11th century poem, and its love affair with the game has only grown since then. Paris would go on to host one of the earliest recorded chess events in Europe - a tournament held by King Henry III in 1575, and won by the inimitable Ruy Lòpez de Segura - and to this day is considered to be one of the world's premier destinations for chess enthusiasts. 

Paris has welcomed the famous chess players of the 18th and 19th centuries to its cafes, and continues to embrace players of all levels, holding tournaments at prestigious venues like the Palais des Sports and the Maison de la Chimie, and dedicating public space and resources to games throughout the city. Today we explore some of the key landmarks and institutions that have contributed to Paris' rich chess culture, including the picturesque gardens of Luxembourg, the legendary Cafe de la Régence, and the impact they've had on cementing Paris's status as a chess mecca.

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris 

The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, France is a well-known haven for chess players from all over the world. This beautiful garden was originally designed to represent the childhood Italian gardens of the widowed queen, Marie de Médicis, and today it serves as a hub for chess enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.

With its picturesque layout and peaceful surroundings, the Luxembourg Gardens offer the perfect setting for a game of chess. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, the garden's tranquil atmosphere will help you focus and play your best game, and there is always a master player willing to provide a challenge to an eager student.   

A modern chess game, Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
But it's not just the Luxembourg Gardens that draws chess players to Paris - it's also the Café de la Régence. This historic café has been a meeting place for chess players since the 18th century, and it's where the legendary Grandmaster Legall de Kermeur passed the torch to his protégé, Philidor, officially crowning Philidor the strongest player in the world.  

Today, the Café de la Régence remains a popular spot for chess players in Paris, France to gather and play. With its cozy atmosphere and rich history, it's no wonder why so many chess players consider it a mecca for the game. And with so many other players around, it's easy to find a match and make new friends.

A typical evening at classic Café de la Regence, Paris

What makes the Luxembourg Gardens and the Café de la Régence truly special is the sense of community they foster. Whether you're a local or a tourist, everyone is welcome to come and play a game of chess. It's this welcoming spirit that has made Paris, France such a beloved destination for chess players around the world.

In the end, the Luxembourg Gardens and the Café de la Régence are more than just places to play chess in Paris, France - they're a testament to the enduring power of this timeless game. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a global phenomenon, chess has brought people together for centuries. And in Paris, that tradition continues to thrive.