Paris - Ile De France
Luxembourg Palace - Seat of French Senate
Marie de Medici's Luxembourg Palace
The Luxembourg Palace is located on the Rive Gauche, a stone's throw from the Pantheon.
The area was rural until the 17th century, with the exception of the Enclos des Chartreux, a monastery founded in 1257 by King Louis IX.
In 1610 Marie de Medicis bought the extensive gardens that stretched on the northern side of the monastery.
She also acquired the nearby Palace of the Duke of Luxembourg.
The painter Rubens decorated the interior with a series of 24 paintings illustrating the queen's life.
These are now exhibited in the Galerie Medicis in the Louvre Museum.
Luxembourg Palace after the Revolution
The Luxembourg Palace remained the property of the French Crown until the French Revolution.
The Enclos des Chartreux became national property.
The church, cloisters and various monastic buildings were demolished in order to extend the gardens of the Luxembourg.
The Luxembourg Palace escaped demolition as it was converted in a prison in 1793.
It then became the seat of the Parliamentary Assembly.
This revolutionary government ruled France from 1795 to 1797 (Directory).
Napoleon I moved the Senate in the Luxembourg Palace in 1801.
The palace then became the seat of the House of Peers in 1815.
In 1852 Napoleon III re-transferred the Senate into the Luxembourg Palace!
Significant work of restoration and transformation were undertaken throughout the 19th century.
Chalgrin indeed restored the interior in 1804.
From 1836 to 1841, the architect Gisors built a new facade, the two pavilions that flank the courtyard and the cupola above the main entrance
Delacroix painted the superb murals in the library.
The palace was entirely refurnished in Louis-Philippe style.
The Orangerie was built during that time.
In 1634 Marie de Medici commissioned Salomon de Brosse with the construction of the Fontaine Medicis.
The water brought by the Arcueil Aqueduct initially fed the fountain.
Sadly, by the mid-1750s the Medici Fountain had fallen into disrepair; it had also lost most of its sculptures and decorations.
Napoleon I commissioned its restoration in 1811.
However, the major transformations occurred under the Second Empire.
The architect Gisors transferred the fountain to its current location, on the eastern side of the Luxembourg Palace.
He also placed it against the Fontaine de Leda in order to stabilize it.
The two fountains are therefore back to back.
The Medici Fountain's facade is monumental; it indeed boasts four columns that delineate three alcoves.
Gisors restored the Medici's coat of arms that tops it as it had been damaged during the French Revolution.
Two allegoric statues representing the rivers Seine and Rhone pouring water sits on each side of the coat-of-arms.
The lateral niches are topped with two masks representing Tragedy and Comedy.
They also contain the statues of a faun and a female hunter.
The centerpiece is a superb statue of Polyphemus surprising Acis and Galatea by the sculptor Auguste Ottin.
The fountain faces an elongated pond.
The Luxembourg Palace is renown for its 24 hectares of gardens that stretch south of the palace.
The formal gardens - Jardins à la Française and lawns frame the palace.
The theme and colours of the flowerbeds vary each year!
The romantic English style gardens spread on the western side.
An experimental orchard was also planted in the southwest corner.
Finally, a network of sandy paths crisscross the gardens.
Some run along the flowerbeds, the others under the trees, but all are bordered with a multitude of statues.
The gardens of the Luxembourg Palace are very popular with the Parisians.
Metal chairs, placed around basins and flower beds, are free for all to use.
The Luxembourg gardens provide a beautiful oasis of greenery in the middle of Paris; it is a perfect destination for a lazy sunny afternoon!
Luxembourg Palace, the seat of the Senate
The Luxembourg Palace is still the seat of the French Senate.
The 319 senators are elected by a college of MP's and regional and municipal Councilors.
The President of the Senate becomes Head of the interim government in case of force majeure.
This happened in the past after the resignation or the sudden death of the President of the Republic.
It occasionally happens also when there is a delay in obtaining the presidential election results.
The President of the Senate remains Head of the interim government until a new president is elected and officially takes office.
The Petit Luxembourg, at no.17 Rue de Vaugirard, is the original Luxembourg Palace.
It has been the official residence of the President of the Senate since 1825.
N.B. The Senate - Luxembourg Palace is open to the public only once a year, on Heritage Weekend in September.
Directions: 6th District
RER B: Luxembourg
Coordinates: Lat 48.847856 - Long 2.337298