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French Senate If you’ve been to Paris, you’ve almost certainly seen the Palais du Luxembourg, that elegant building which takes pride of place in the Jardin of the same name. But unless you’re a French senator, you’ll find it almost impossible to take a peek inside. Originally built by Marie de Medici in the 17th century, the palace was a prison and court of justice during the French Revolution. It became a military hospital in the Prussian invasion of Paris and a home for the commander of the Luftwaffe in World War II. And finally the permanent seat of the Senate of the Fifth Republic from 1958. It was here that Victor Hugo defended freedom and the Republic… For an impressive overview, begin your virtual tour with the exhibit titled ‘Palais du Luxembourg, 400 years of history’, which will take you to every corner of this magnificent building. The gilded walls dating back to the Renaissance are juxtaposed against the modern conference rooms with their tv screens and comfy chairs. Watch for the sweeping view of the library with its cupola painting by Eugène Delacroix and its shelves filled with ancient leather worn texts. The Salle des Conférences is the most opulent room in the palace. At 57 metres long, it was originally the Throne Gallery built for Napoleon III in 1852. Take the tour ‘Palais du Luxembourg, siège du Sénat’ and lose yourself in this golden gallery. Can you spot Napoleon’s throne? Seat yourself comfortably in the dark red velvet chairs and look up, where a veritable treasure trove of murals await. It’s a feeling not unlike being in the Sistine Chapel. The separate Petit Luxembourg is the residence of the President of the Senate. peep inside the working office and wander along the marble terrace.
I didn’t think that a museum about money would be terribly interesting (unless they were giving some away), but I was wrong! The Luxembourg gardens are as beautiful as the Palace, and you can take a leisurely stroll past the circular basin or sit and watch the sailboats. The French Senate is only open to the public on the third weekend in September for European Heritage Days or by a guided tour with the permission of a Senator, so take the opportunity to walk through its doors now. Visit the French Senate, Palais Luxembourg Monnaie de Paris Show me the money! Or, we can head on over to where it’s made, the Monnaie de Paris, or Paris Mint. With one of the longest facades along the Seine river, this elegant neo-classical edifice houses the world’s oldest money producing institution. For over 1,150 years, the Monnaie de Paris has been making coins. First on Île de la Cité, then various sites in Paris including the Louvre Palace for a century or so, before moving to the Quai de Conti in 1775. Start your guided tour on top of the museum building, which gives you a not so common view of the Seine: the tip of the Île de la Cité. Looking much like a pointed nose, this peaceful green space is a haven in which to sit and idly watch the boats pass by. Across the river, on the right bank, the Louvre rises majestically. And in the distance are the two tallest points in Paris - the Eiffel Tower and Tour Montparnasse. The Monnaie de Paris building, referred to as 11 Conti, is today made up of a museum of the money-making process, and the original factory which mints medals and coins of precious metals. Production of legal currency was moved to Pessac in the southwest of France in the 1970s, The ‘12 centuries of excellence’ exhibition is a comprehensive overview of the minting of money in France, and ‘The roaming of Monnaie de Paris’ tells you how they came to stop roaming and made their home on the left bank of the Seine.
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