The Château de Brissac is a noble mansion originally built as a castle by the Counts of Anjou in the 11th century. After the victory over the English by Philip II of France, he gave the property to Guillaume des Roches. In the 15th century, the structure was rebuilt by Pierre de Brézé, a wealthy chief minister to King Charles VII. During the reign (1515–47) of Francis I, the property was acquired by René de Cossé, who the king named as governor of Anjou and Maine.
During the French Wars of Religion, Château Brissac was made a possession in 1589 by the Protestant, Henry of Navarre. Severely damaged, the fortress was scheduled to be demolished. However, Charles II de Cossé sided with Henri of Navarre who soon was crowned King of France. In gratitude, King Henry gave him the property, the title Duc de Brissac and the money to rebuild the chateau in 1611. Its construction made it the highest château in France, its façade reflecting the influences of that century’s Baroque architecture. Through marriage, the Cossé-Brissac family also acquired the Château Montreuil-Bellay but later sold it.
In August 1620, Louis XIII and his mother, Marie de Medici, met to discuss their differences in the "neutral" territory of Château Brissac. A temporary truce between the two was reached but it did not last long and the Queen Mother was eventually banished.
The descendants of the Duc de Brissac maintained the château until 1792 when the property was ransacked during the Revolution. It lay in waste until a restoration program began in 1844 that was carried on during the 19th century by the Duke's descendants.
Today, the Château Brissac is still owned by a de Cossé family member. It has seven storeys altogether, making it the tallest chateau in the Loire Valley. The chateau is open to tours and its luxurious gilded theater hosts the annual Val de Loire festival. It was also used as a location for Brazilian celebrity magazine "Caras" until recently.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.