Last Saturday was the first day of the Journée du Patrimoine 2011 (National Heritage Days) and my first stop was the Sénat (Senate).
The French Senate is housed in the 16th century Palais du Luxembourg, named after the original owner, François of Piney, Duke of Luxembourg. He sold it to Marie de Medicis, the mother of King Louis XIII, who also built a bigger palace next to it. It changed from one Royal owner to another and at one time, it was also occupied by Napoleon Bonaparte and his beloved Josephine. It was only in 1958 under the 5th Republic that it finally became the seat of the French Senate.
Note: These photos are taken with my point-and-shoot and did not use flash, hence, the grainy effect.
Salon des Tapisseries (Carpet Hall)
Portrait of Napoleon in sacred robe (left) and a marble reproduction of his letter to the Senate announcing that he is sending the 40 flags of nations he has defeated in Austerlitz.
Chandelier dated end of 18th century
Chapel of the Queen
This mid-19th century chapel was re-created on the same spot where the original convent for the Filles du Calvaire ordered built by Marie de Medicis in 1617 was destroyed in 1844.
Office of the Senate President
Escalier d’Honneur (Staircase of Honour) 1800-1803
The ceiling of Marie de Medicis’ bedroom
19th century marble sculpture of Achilles (the child) and Deidamie (the mother) by Pollet
Allégorie, painted on the ceiling of the Salon des Messagers d’Etat (State Messengers’ Hall) by Henri Decaisne
The 18th century statue of Harpocrate by Mouchy
A finger over his lips, Harpocrate is the Greek god of Silence and Secrecy.
Cabinet de Départ (Office of Leave), so-named because this is where the Session President prepares to leave to join the Session Hall.
Bureau de Questeur (Office of the Magistrate)
The contract dated 15 May 1694 where Elizabeth of Orleans, the owner of the Palais du Luxembourg, donated the building to King Louis XIV. Shown is the signature of the King.
A gazette dated 1631
Les Limbes (the concept of Limbo, a region on the edge of hell) described in Dante’s Inferno, painted by Delacroix (1841-1846).
In the epic, Dante met the great souls in the edge of Hell. They did not sin but are not saved because they did not receive the grace of baptism. Among these souls are Homer, Horace, Ovid, Lucan, Socrates, etc.
The famous cabinet made specially by Charles Morel to house the “Description of Egypt”. These are engraved drawings and notes compiled by the wise men whom Napoleon brought with him to Egypt as part of the French expedition.
Salle des séances (Session Hall)
The Session Hall has 343 seats which corresponds to the actual number of Senators. There are 3 sizes of seats: Large, medium and small, depending on the size of the senator.
The Library annex
The ceiling consists of 12 paintings representing the twelve signs of the Zodiac, by Jacob Jordaens (1593 – 1678). Here shown the Virgin.
Voila….the Palais du Luxembourg!