Senate's Chamber
Paris

Palais du Luxembourg – how to access French Senat headquarter

Do you know the beautiful building you see while walking around in the Luxembourg Garden? It is the Luxembourg Palace, a headquarters of French Senat.

Palais du Luxembourg
Palais du Luxembourg

It has very limited access to the public but I managed to enter inside during Le Jour du Patrimoine which takes place on the 3rd weekend of September. That day you can visit all museums for free as well as many places which are normally not open to the public. For example, it is the only day of the year when you can visit Palais de l’Élysée, the official residence of the French president. However, not only you will want to do it, so be ready for long queues. I heard that the waiting time to see the president’s residency is around 5 hours!

Jardin du Luxembourg - The Luxembourg palace
The Luxembourg Palace from outside

I waited a bit over one hour to enter the Luxembourg Palace in September last year. Luckily, the weather was great and the surrounding is green and beautiful so the time passed fast.

Jardin du Luxembourg, waiting to enter the Senat headquarter
Waiting to enter the Senat headquarter – Luxembourg Palace

Le Palais du Luxembourg was built in 1645 on the request of Marie de’ Medici (like the name of the fountain in the Luxembourg Garden), mother of Louis XIII, as a royal residence.  She decided to construct new residence adjacent to an old hotel owned by François de Luxembourg, Duc de Piney. This hotel is called the Petit Luxembourg and it is now the residence of the president of the French Senate. This information should resolve for you the mystery of the source of the name of the garden and the palace – Luxembourg.

Luxembourg Palace inside
Luxembourg Palace inside

The Luxembourg Palace was designed by the architect Salomon de Bross, modeled after Palazzo Pitti in Florence but it got more French than Italian style in the end. 

Ceiling in Luxembourg Palace
Ceiling in Luxembourg Palace

“From 1799 to 1805, the architect Jean Chalgrin transformed the palace into a legislative building. He demolished the grand central staircase (escalier d’honneur), replacing it with a senate chamber on the first floor, which incorporated and destroyed Marie de Médicis’ chapel on the garden side.”

Palais du Luxembourg inside
Palais du Luxembourg inside

The tour in the palace took me over 2 hours. I started from visiting the rooms inside, including the office of the vice-president of the Senat.

Bureau d'un vice-president du senat en Palais du Luxembourg
Office of the vice-president of the Senate in Luxembourg Palace

Later I went to a splendid library which made a great impression on me. Not often I feel gooseflesh while entering into someplace but the library in the palace is not only huge and long but also has a beautiful ceiling.

library of the Senat in Luxembourg Palace
The library of the Senat in Luxembourg Palace

 

Ceiling in library of the Senat in Luxembourg Palace
The ceiling in the library of the Senat in Luxembourg Palace

I also went to a splendid conference room full of magnificent paintings and sculptures.

Salle des Conférences
Salle des Conférences (Conference Room)

It was a great experience to see a Senate’s Chamber where all senators gather in order to decide about new laws.

Me in the Senate's Chamber in Luxembourg Palace
Me in the Senate’s Chamber in Luxembourg Palace

In this room, there are The Seven Statues facing the Senate Chamber’s Semicircle (from left to right): Turgot • d’Aguesseau •l’Hôpital • Colbert • Molé • Malesherbes • Portalis.

The Seven Statues facing the Senate Chamber's Semicircle
The Seven Statues facing the Senate Chamber’s Semicircle

We have also visited the Petit Luxembourg, the current office of the president of the Senate that has amazing stairs and great, big office.

The office of the president of the Senate, Petit Luxembourg
The office of the president of the Senate, Petit Luxembourg

 

The stairs in the Petit Luxembourg
The stairs in the Petit Luxembourg

This is pretty much the end of the tour in the Luxembourg Palace. I heard there is also a possibility of booking a group trip on Mondays and Fridays but the waiting list is over 3 months and the priority have the local groups. You can also get an invitation from one of the senators after writing him a request. I totally recommend you to find time in the third weekend of September to come and visit it. Good luck!

The good news is that the entrance is free.

Address: 15 Rue de Vaugirard, 75291 Paris

Check out the official website of the Senate and have a virtual tour.

#palaceduluxembourg #luxembourgpalace #placestovisitinparis #senateschambre #frenchsenae

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