Château de Beaumesnil was designed and built by John Gallard during the reign of Louis XIII between 1633 and 1640. It is constructed of stone and brick walls with a slate roof on the ruins of the motte-and-bailey castle that had stood on the site since medieval times. The east and west facades are richly decorated with carvings. The north and south pavilions were added to the building during the 18th cenbury. The donjon (keep) that was built on a mound to the south of the site was converted into an icehouse. The mound is now covered with a boxwood maze. The château and forecourt were built on the bailey with the forecourt. A footbrige provides access to the château from the east and a vehicular bridge provides access to the forecourt and château from the west. Another footbridge connects the forecourt with the motte.
The eastern side of the château overlooks a parterre laid to lawn with woodland on either side. In the 18th century, wings were added to both the northern and southern ends of the château. The 'state' rooms - the library, the drawing room, the dining room, the mistress' apartment are on the first floor and are accessed using the grand staircase.
The château, which is nicknamed 'Norman Versailles', is located in a 60 heactare estate landscaped by La Quintinie, a student of André Le Nôtre, though little is left of la Quintinie's original gardens. Much of the estate to the east of the château is wooded with a parterre laid to lawn, almost a kilometre in length, providing an impressive perpectives from the château's state rooms. The parterre is broken by a large pond, approximately one hectare in area, that has many features of a formal pond such as regular edging with specific geometric shapes.
Two formal flower beds were laid out in the 18th century to the east of the château, the smaller Jardin des quatre saisons (Four Seasons garden) on the northern side of the forecourt and the larger semi-circular Jardins demi-lune (Halfmoon garden) on the northern bank of the moat. As part of a conservation plan, a kitchen garden with over 500 varieties of ancient vegetables, including unusual varieties like devil's ear lettuce and rainbow corn has been cultivated.
The château's library and 16th century bookbinding museum were built up by the German-Jewish financier Hans Fürstenberg (1890 - 1982) who had fled Nazi Germany in 1937. He bought the château in 1938 and moved is collection of 16,000 books there, many of which dated from the 17th or 18th century. As the invasion of France drew near, valuable archives of the Bibliothèque nationale, the private archives of the King of the Belgians, the archives of Rouen and the Archives de France were moved to the château's library for safekeeping. Part of the collection was sent to Vichy France for safekeeping and the rest confiscated by the Nazi invaders. Fürstenberg's own collection ended up at the Schloss Tanzenberg in Kärnten, Austria. During the war, part of Fürstenberg's collection was lost, but the rest was returned to the château. After the war Fürstenberg rebuilt his collection, but in his later years sold parts of it to various institutes. Shortly after Fürstenberg's death, the library was further depleted when a number of items were sold to fund the Fondation Fürstenberg-Beaumesnil.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.