Palais du Luxembourg

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Palais du Luxembourg
© Jean-Christophe Godet
The palace itself was built in the 1620s for Marie de Médicis, widow of Henri IV, by Salomon de Brosse on the site of the former mansion of the Duke of Luxembourg. Its Italianate style was intended to remind her of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. The palace now houses the French parliament's upper house, the Sénat (open only by guided visits).

The mansion next door (Le Petit Luxembourg) is the residence of the Sénat's president. The gardens, though, are the real draw: part formal (terraces and gravel paths), part 'English garden' (lawns and mature trees), they are the quintessential Paris park. The garden is crowded with sculptures: a looming Cyclops (on the 1624 Fontaine de Médicis), queens of France, a miniature Statue of Liberty, wild animals, busts of Flaubert and Baudelaire, and a monument to Delacroix. There are orchards and an apiary.

After closing for more than a year, the Musée National du Luxembourg (19 rue de Vaugirard, 01.40.13.62.00, www.museeduluxembourg.fr) is due to reopen in February 2011. Most interesting, though, are the people: a mixture of flâneurs and dragueurs, chess players and martial-arts practitioners, as well as children on ponies, in sandpits, on roundabouts and playing with the sailing boats on the pond.

Posted:

Venue name: Palais du Luxembourg
Address: 19 rue de Vaugirard
6e
Paris

Opening hours: Jardin summer 7.30am-dusk daily; winter 8am-dusk daily
Price: free
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