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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
I also went to a splendid conference room full of magnificent paintings and sculptures.
It was a great experience to see a Senate’s Chamber where all senators gather in order to decide about new laws.
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.
We have also visited the Petit Luxembourg, the current office of the president of the Senate that has amazing stairs and great, big office.
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
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