Paris - Luxembourg Quarter: Jardin du Luxembourg - Palais du Luxembourg
The Palais du Luxembourg, now home to the French Senate, was built for Marie de de Médicis, widow of Henri IV mother of king Louis XIII of France, to remind her of her native Florence.
In 1612, she bought and old hôtel particulier owned by François, duc de Luxembourg and the surrounding property and commissioned architect Salomon de Brosse to built, in the style of the Pitti Palace in Florence, what she called Palais Médicis. She installed her household in 1625, while work on interiors continued. Construction was finished in 1631, but the Queen Mother was forced from court the same year, following the Day of the Dupes. In 1624, she bequeathed the palace to her second son, Gaston d'Orléans, the king's younger brother, who passed it to his widow and daughter, Anne, Duchess of Montpensier, who made it her residence. Her daughter, the duchesse de Guise, inherited it in 1660 and gave it to Louis XIV in 1694. The palace was not used again until it was owned by Louis XVI, who gave it in 1778 to his brother, the Comte de Provence. During the French Revolution, it was briefly a prison, then the center of the French Directory and later the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of France. It has continued its senatorial role, with brief interruptions, ever since.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940-1944), Hermann Göring took over the Palais as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe 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, also took an apartment and spent most of the war enjoying the luxurious surroundings. The Palais was a designated "strong point" for German forces defending the city in August 1944, but thanks to the decision of commanding Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz to surrender the city rather than fight, it was only minimally damaged and later used for the peace conference of 1946.
The Palace sits within the Jardin du Luxembourg, referred to by locals as Luco, a 224,500 m² public park--the largest in the city--designed in the French style in 1612. The Jardin features two noteworthy fountains--the Fontaine de Medicis, a baroque fountain designed in 1624; and at the southern end, in an extension known as Jardins de l'Observatoire, Davioud, Carpaux and Frémiet's Fontaine de l'Observatoire, erected in 1873.