The Château de Maintenon is best known as being the private residence of the second spouse of Louis XIV, Madame de Maintenon. The construction of the castle began in the 12th and ended roughly in the 18th century. In the early 16th century it was purchased by Louis XII's treasurer Jean Cottereau, who transformed the castle into a country house. In the 17th century it was rebuilt for Madame de Maintenon, who purchased the estate in 1675.
The château's main features are the keep, constructed in the 13th century, and the principal corps de logis, flanked by two round towers. The east and west wings frame a cour d'honneur, beyond which is the moat filled by the waters of the Eure, and, beyond, the parterre and park. The picturesque massing of the varied towers and roofs pleased François-René de Chateaubriand who found its special character was like that of an abbey or an old town, "with its spires and steeples, grouped at hap-hazard".
At the far end of the gardens is the aqueduct known as the canal de Louis XIV, ordered by Louis XIV. Its colossal scale impressed Chateaubriand, who said that it was "a work worthy of the Caesars". It was constructed by the Marquis de Vauban between 1685 and 1690 in order to transport water from the Eure River to the gardens and fountains at the Château de Versailles. In the 18th century there was an orangerie constructed as well as stables.
The interior has been restored and furniture and decoration can be seen in several salons, a library and a billiard room. There is also a portrait gallery showing painting of the House of Noailles, who inherited the property at the death of Madame de Maintenon in 1718.
The main garden was designed by the famous André Le Nôtre who also worked at Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Marly. The parterre has two interlacing "L"'s, in honour of Louis XIV. Two allées, given modern names in honour of Le Nôtre and Racine, border the Eure river.
At the far end, cutting through the gardens, is the aqueduct built from 1685 to supply the fountains of the park of the Palace of Versailles. The project meant that water was diverted from the Eure river some 80 km away. The arches of the structure reach a height of 60 feet. Vauban was in charge of the works.
The aqueduct had to have 47 arcades to the first row, 195 arcades to the second and 390 to the third one. The wars of Louis XIV prevented the work's completion.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.