Beginning in 1653, the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais church employed and sheltered the Couperin family, one of the most famous dynasties of French musicians, for more than two centuries. On one side of the church, the home of the famous harpsichordists, organists, and composers still stands, with a plaque commemorating the Couperins' tenure in this place. The organ used by Louis and François Couperin still exists today inside the church. Built by the most famous organ builders of the time — François-Henri Clicquot, Louis-Alexandre Clicquot, and Robert Clicquot — it is a fine example of the French baroque style.
This church site is one of the oldest in Paris. Its existence at this place is mentioned as early as the fourth century. Dedicated to Gervasius and Protasius, the church was formerly the seat of the powerful brotherhood of wine merchants. It assumed its present appearance in the 16th century. Its façade was completed much later, however, about 1620.
The present church was begun in the Gothic style in 1494, the chapels of the apse were finished in 1530 and the transept in 1578. The doorway of the church was built in 1616–1620 by Claude Monnard in the classical style. Between 1600 and 1628, a second row of chapels was built on the north side including the golden chapel ornamented with painted woodwork.
The church was refurbished to coincide with Pope John Paul II's second visit to Paris with the continued installation of a number of new stained glass windows (Claude Courageux, earlier work by Sylvie Gaudin.
One side of the church is skirted by the Rue François Miron, where two of the oldest medieval houses of Paris survive, at numbers 11 and 13. They date, most likely, from the 14th century. One can see the exposed wood of the half-timbered structures.
On 29 March 1918, a German shell, fired by the long-range 'Paris Gun', fell on the church, killing 88 people and wounding 68 others; the explosion collapsed the roof when a Good Friday service was in progress. This was the worst single incident involving a loss of civilian lives during the German bombardment of Paris in 1918. Among those killed was Rose-Marie Ormond Andre-Michel, the niece and a favorite model of John Singer Sargent.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.