17.1.13

Luxembourg Palace (1)


Together with some fellow ”greeters”, voluntarily accompanying visitors to Paris (read more about it here or click on the sidebar “Parisien d’un Jour”), I had the pleasure to visit the interior of the Palais de Luxembourg, the site of the French Senate. I already posted about the Luxembourg Gardens, e.g. here and here, but not until now about the Palace itself.



A lot is to be said and showed about this Palace, so I will split in two posts and of course (you know me) start by trying to give some historic information.

The Palace was originally built for Marie de Medici, wife, widow of Henri IV, mother of Louis XIII and grandmother of Louis XIV. As from 1610 and the death of Henri IV, until 1617, she acted as regent for the young Louis XIII. Without going into any details, there was a lot of fighting and intriguing between her, her son, her second son, the Cardinal Richelieu and others as well during her regency as later.

Marie was not happy living in the austere Louvre Palace and desired to make a building and garden similar to what she had known from her birthplace, Florence.  In 1612 she bought land and the already existing smaller castle, still there and now referred to as the “Petit Luxembourg”, having belonged to a Duke of Piney-Luxembourg.

Thirteen years later, in 1625, she could move in, but the Palace was really completed only in 1631, when she had just been forced to leave the Royal court, first exiled to Compiègne.  She then escaped to Brussels, Amsterdam, London … conspiring against Louis XIII and Richelieu… and died in Cologne in 1642. She then still owned the Palace and bequeathed it to her favourite son, Gaston d’Orléans, always in fight with the elder brother, Louis XIII.



With only some short interruptions (as museum), the Palace was then occupied by the Orléans family and later by the brother of Louis XVI, the future Louis XVIII … until the Revolution when it became a prison, the home of the Senate (“Sénat Conservateur”) and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul.

1799-1805 the Palace was transformed into a legislative building, the grand central staircase was demolished and replaced by a senate chamber (blue circle). Beginning 1835 additional surface (in light blue) was constructed, keeping the original façade alike and a new senate chamber (the still existing one) was created as well as a library.


We can here compare what the Palace and its gardens looked like during the 18th century and today.

Marie de Medici had her apartments in the west wing. Almost all the original interior decoration is gone, but a few elements have been saved and assembled in a room on the ground floor (“Salle du Livre d’Or”)…




… together with some decorations of the sleeping quarters of Louis XIII’s wife, Anne d’Autriche, from the Louvre.


Marie de Medici had ordered 24 canvases from Peter Paul Rubens – to her glory. They were exposed in the “Rubens gallery” (see plan above). When the Palace was rebuilt during the 19th century, a new central staircase was built here. The Rubens paintings can now be seen at the Louvre.

Again referring to history, a very special event took place in this antechamber, referred to as “la Journée des Dupes” (the Day of the Dupes), when Marie de Medici, Louis XIII and Richelieu met in November 1630 and when Marie thought that she had got rid of Richelieu, but a day later Richelieu was the winner and soon Marie had to leave. Richelieu then lived in the neighbour “Petit Luxembourg”, now the residence of the President of the Senate.


Here are some pictures of the “Petit Luxembourg” and its still private garden.


… and here some from the central court of the real Palace.


In a next post, I will illustrate the magnificent rooms which were added, redecorated during the 19th century.                  

20 comments:

Jeanie said...

I always love it when you take me inside places I've never been. Several years ago I enjoyed a lovely time in the gardens but this past spring we didn't get back and certainly not inside. It is simply magnificent -- what a collection and what a special opportunity to see it with your fellow guides. Thanks, Peter! Thinking of you this cold winter!

Cheryl said...

Beautiful! But I can see why Marie de Medici wanted some place that felt cozier.

Pierre BOYER said...

Une balade historique...
Bonne journée,

Pierre

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite places in Paris...
I think the rue de Vaugirard is near by.
Love this!
Maria

Vagabonde said...

That is really interesting Peter. I have some old postcards of some of the rooms, but they are in black and white. When I went there last time I was told I could assist at a séance of the Sénat by showing my French passport, but I did not think I would be able to follow it well because living in the US I rarely hear much about French politics. La Salle du Livre d’Or must be something to see – do they let you take photographs?

Thérèse said...

C'est beaucoup plus grand que je ne pensais en y reflechissant.
Les boiseries sont superbes et quelle lecon d'histoire.
Si les intrigues actuelles pouvaient nous fournir des oeuvres de telle qualite on les supporterait mieux (les intrigues!)

Olivier said...

je ne l'ai jamais visite, et il est vraiment magnifique. A faire quand je serais remis

M said...

Fascinating and beautiful! May I please volunteer for you to volunteer to accompany me there? :)

Cezar and Léia said...

C'est magnifique! :)
Léia

Synne said...

Wow, this looks marvellous! I love all the little details already, and there's more to come? Delicious!

JoeinVegas said...

I love the history of the old buildings and families, thank you for sharing those. Here in Las Vegas our 'old' buildings were build two decades ago, already marked to be blown up and replaced by new.

Starman said...

Fascinating! I love the way the royals were always fighting each other for power. It's amazing anything ever got built or accomplished during their time.

Nathalie Beaumes said...

Bonne année cher Peter. J'ai l'impression que d'être "greeter" avec Parisien d'Un Jour te donne l'occasion de voir de belles choses. Comme quoi le bénévolat est récompensé et ce n'est que justice !

ALAIN said...

Les plus farouches républicains sont les premiers à vouloir s'installer dans les palais des princes.
Le président du sénat est le deuxième personnage de France, mais certainement le mieux logé.

claude said...

Il est déjà beau vu de dehors, mais alors dedans, il est magnifique.
Tu es un privilégié, Peter.

Catherine said...

glad some of that interior decor survived - it is stunning...

shooting star said...

stunning decor!!!

http://www.myunfinishedlife.com/

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Thank you for being such an excellent guide. My wife and I will be in Paris later this year, so your posts are especially appreciated.

Studio at the Farm said...

Hi Peter. Both the interior and the gardens remind me very much of the Medici palace in Florence. Beautiful, thank you for the great post!

Kittie Howard said...

Oh, it's good I backtracked as I wasn't thinking about the same building. Having said that, we're going to Paris this summer and -- voila!--your post had motivated me to visit these gardens.