By kjfitz @ 2006-05-14 22:07:25
The Palais du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Palace) in the VIe arrondissement of Paris, north of the Luxembourg Garden, is where the French Senate meets.
The palace was originally built for Marie de' Medici, mother of king Louis XIII of France on the site of an old townhouse owned by the Duc de Piney-Luxembourg. Her architect was Salomon de Brosse. Louis commissioned the artists Nicolas Poussin and Philippe de Champaigne to decorate the Palace. However, by the time the palace had been finished, Marie De' Medici had been banished.
It was inherited by Marie's granddaughter, Anne, Duchess of Montpensier. The palace was not used until it was owned by Louis XVI's brother, the Comte de Provence. During the French Revolution, it was the center of the French Directory and later the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte when he was First Consul of France
In the 19th century the palace was extensively remodeled, with a new garden façade by Alphonse de Gisors (1836–41), and a cycle of paintings (1845–47) by Eugène Delacroix that was added to the library. The building was used for the peace conference of 1946.
The formal Jardin du Luxembourg presents a 25-hectare green parterre 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 marionettes (puppet theater).
During the German occupation of Paris (1940-44), Hermann Goering took over the Palais as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms for 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 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 after a visit to Sperrle in Paris.
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, the Palais was only minimally damaged.
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