The Luxembourg Palace in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, north of the Luxembourg Garden , is the seat of the French Senate
The Senate is the upper house of the Parliament of France, presided over by a president.The Senate enjoys less prominence than the lower house, the directly elected National Assembly; debates in the Senate tend to be less tense and generally enjoy less media coverage.-History:France's first...
The formal Luxembourg Garden presents a 25-hectare green parterre
A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern. Parterres need not have any flowers at all...
of gravel and lawn populated with statues and provided with large basins of water where children sail model boats. In the southwest corner, there is an orchard of apple and pear trees and the théâtre des marionnettes (puppet theatre).
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...
was built for Marie de Médicis
Marie de' Medici
Marie de Médicis , Italian Maria de' Medici, was queen consort of France, as the second wife of King Henry IV of France, of the House of Bourbon. She herself was a member of the wealthy and powerful House of Medici...
, mother of king Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...
and of Gaston, duc d'Orléans
Gaston, Duke of Orléans
Gaston of France, , also known as Gaston d'Orléans, was the third son of King Henry IV of France and his wife Marie de Medici. As a son of the king, he was born a Fils de France. He later acquired the title Duke of Orléans, by which he was generally known during his adulthood...
, just near the site of an old hôtel particulier
In French contexts an hôtel particulier is an urban "private house" of a grand sort. Whereas an ordinary maison was built as part of a row, sharing party walls with the houses on either side and directly fronting on a street, an hôtel particulier was often free-standing, and by the 18th century it...
owned by François-Henri de Montmorency, duc de Piney-Luxembourg, hence its name (now called Petit Luxembourg, home of the president of French Senate). Marie de Médicis desired to make a building similar to her native Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....
's Palazzo Pitti
The Palazzo Pitti , in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio...
, and to this effect had the main architect Salomon de Brosse
Salomon de Brosse
Salomon de Brosse was the most influential early 17th-century French architect, a major influence on François Mansart. Salomon was from a prominent Huguenot family, the grandson through his mother of the designer Jacques I Androuet du Cerceau and the son of the architect Jean de Brosse...
send architect Clément Metézeau to Florence to obtain drawings. Marie de Médicis bought the structure and its fairly extensive domain in 1612 and commissioned the new building, which she referred to as her Palais Médicis, in 1615. Its construction and furnishing formed her major artistic project, though nothing remains today of the interiors as they were created for her, save some architectural fragments reassembled in the Salle du Livre d'Or. The suites of paintings she commissioned, in the subjects of which she expressed her requirements through her agents and advisors, are scattered among museums.
A series of twenty-four triumphant canvases
Marie de' Medici cycle
The Marie de' Medici Cycle is a series of twenty-four paintings by Peter Paul Rubens commissioned by Marie de' Medici, wife of Henry IV of France, for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. Rubens received the commission in the autumn of 1621...
were commissioned from Peter Paul Rubens. A series of paintings executed for her Cabinet doré ("gilded study") was identified by Anthony Blunt
Anthony Frederick Blunt , was a British art historian who was exposed as a Soviet spy late in his life.Blunt was Professor of the History of Art at the University of London, director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, Surveyor of the King's Pictures and London...
in 1967. To the right of the block of the Luxembourg, erected at the same time, was the mass of the Palais du Petit-Luxembourg (see below).
Marie de Médicis installed her household in 1625, while work on interiors continued. The apartments to one side were reserved for the Queen and the matching suite on the other for her son, Louis XIII (floor plan). Construction was finished in 1631; the Queen Mother was forced from court shortly after, following the "Day of the Dupes
Day of the Dupes
Day of the Dupes is the name given to the day in November of 1630 on which the enemies of Cardinal Richelieu mistakenly believed that they had succeeded in persuading Louis XIII, King of France, to dismiss Richelieu from power...
" in November 1631. Louis XIII commissioned further decorations for the Palace from Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin was a French painter in the classical style. His work predominantly features clarity, logic, and order, and favors line over color. His work serves as an alternative to the dominant Baroque style of the 17th century...
and Philippe de Champaigne
Philippe de Champaigne
Philippe de Champaigne was a Flemish-born French Baroque era painter, a major exponent of the French school.-Early life:Born in Brussels of a poor family, Champaigne was a pupil of the landscape painter Jacques Fouquières...
In 1642, Marie bequeathed the Luxembourg to her second and favourite son, Gaston d'Orléans. Upon Gaston's death, the palace passed to his widow, Marguerite de Lorraine
Marguerite of Lorraine
Marguerite of Lorraine was a duchess of Orléans and Alençon. She was born in Nancy, Lorraine to Francis II, Duke of Lorraine, and Countess Christina of Salm. On 31 January 1632, she married Gaston, Duke of Orléans, son of Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici...
, then to his elder daughter by his first marriage, Anne, duchesse de Montpensier, La Grande Mademoiselle
Anne, Duchess of Montpensier
Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier, known as La Grande Mademoiselle, was the eldest daughter of Gaston d'Orléans, and his first wife Marie de Bourbon. One of the greatest heiresses in history, she died unmarried and childless, leaving her vast fortune to her cousin, Philippe of...
. In 1660, Anne de Montpensier sold the Luxembourg to her younger half-sister, Élisabeth Marguerite d'Orléans
Élisabeth Marguerite of Orléans
Élisabeth Marguerite d'Orléans. , known as Isabelle d'Orléans, was the Duchess of Alençon and, during her husband's lifetime, Duchess of Angoulême. She was a daughter of Gaston d'Orléans and a first cousin of Louis XIV of France. She has no descendants today...
, duchesse de Guise who, in turn, gave it to her cousin, king Louis XIV, in 1694.
In 1750, the palace became a museum—the forerunner of the Louvre—, and was open two days a week until 1779. In 1778, the palace was given to the comte de Provence
Louis XVIII of France
Louis XVIII , known as "the Unavoidable", was King of France and of Navarre from 1814 to 1824, omitting the Hundred Days in 1815...
by his brother Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....
. During the French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...
, it was briefly a prison, then the seat of the French Directory
The Directory was a body of five Directors that held executive power in France following the Convention and preceding the Consulate...
and later the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. It has continued its senatorial role, with brief interruptions, ever since.
In the nineteenth century, the palace was extensively remodeled, with a new garden façade by Alphonse de Gisors
Alphonse de Gisors
Henri-Alphonse de Gisors was a 19th-century French architect. His major work is his extension of Salomon de Brosse and Jacques Lemercier's Palais du Luxembourg between 1836 and 1841 - in 1835 he added a new facade overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens, and in 1836 he extended the lateral façades...
(1836–1841), and a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...
that was added to the library.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...
took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....
in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital.
His subordinate, Luftwaffe Field Marshal Hugo Sperrle
Hugo Sperrle was a German field marshal of the Luftwaffe during World War II. His forces were deployed solely on the Western Front and the Mediterranean throughout the war...
, was also given an apartment in the Luxembourg palace, and spent most of the war enjoying the luxurious surroundings. "The Field Marshal's craving for luxury and public display ran a close second to that of his superior, Goering; he was also his match in corpulence", wrote armaments minister Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...
after a visit to Sperrle in Paris.
The palace was a designated "strong point" for German forces defending the city in August 1944, but thanks to the decision of Commanding General Dietrich von Choltitz
Dietrich von Choltitz
General der Infanterie Dietrich von Choltitz was the German military governor of Paris during the closing days of the German occupation of that city during World War II...
to surrender the city rather than fight, the palace was only minimally damaged.
From 29 July to 15 October 1946, the Luxembourg Palace was the site of the talks of Paris Peace Conference.
The Petit-LuxembourgTo the west of the Luxembourg, and communicating with it through interior courts, the sixteenth-century original hôtel of the duc de Piney-Luxembourg was rebuilt during the same years, the smaller palace now called the Petit-Luxembourg; it is composed of two main blocks, or corps de logis
Corps de logis
Corps de logis is the architectural term which refers to the principal block of a large, usually classical, mansion or palace. It contains the principal rooms, state apartments and an entry. The grandest and finest rooms are often on the first floor above the ground level: this floor is the...
separated by a courtyard that is entered through a grand convex portal flanked by Tuscan columns
Among canon of classical orders of classical architecture, the Tuscan order's place is due to the influence of the Italian Sebastiano Serlio, who meticulously described the five orders including a "Tuscan order", "the solidest and least ornate", in his fourth book of Regole generalii di...
. Since 1958, the Petit-Luxembourg has been the official residence of the President of the French Senate (président du Sénat) .
Marie de Médicis passed it to the Cardinal de Richelieu, who occupied it while his own grand palace, the Palais-Cardinal, (which became the Palais-Royal after Richelieu deeded it to the Crown), was constructed in the rue Saint-Honoré. Once there, he ceded the Petit-Luxembourg to his niece the duchesse d'Aiguillon. By inheritance it passed to Henry III Jules de Bourbon, prince de Condé
Henry III Jules de Bourbon, prince de Condé
Henri Jules de Bourbon, Prince of Condé was prince de Condé, from 1686 to his death. At the end of his life he suffered from clinical lycanthropy and was considered insane.-Biography:...
, whose widow Anne, princesse palatine de Bavière
Anne Henriette of Bavaria
Anne Henriette of Palatinate-Simmern, in France known as Anne Henriette of Bavaria was a Princess of Palatinate-Simmern by birth and by her marriage in 1663, the Duchess of Enghien and then the Princess of Condé...
, made it the habitual residence of her widowhood, making adjustments to suit her status that included the grand staircase and salon by Germain Boffrand
Germain Boffrand was one of the most gifted French architects of his generation. A pupil of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Germain Boffrand was one of the main creators of the precursor to Rococo called the style Régence, and in his interiors, of the Rococo itself...
(1709–1713) and adding another hôtel for her household, with her kitchens and stables, on the other side of rue de Vaugirard; an underground passage linked the two residences.
Under Napoleon, the Council of State was seated at the Petit-Luxembourg from 25 December 1799.