This imposing brick castle Château de Morlanne, forming a polygonal enceinte, is a powerful 14th century structure with gateways, a courtyard, moats and a high keep. Inside is a manor house dating from the end of the 16th century.
The castle, standing on a motte at the southern end of the village, was built about 1370 by the architect Sicard de Lordat for Arnaud-Guilhem, the brother of Gaston Fébus (Gaston III of Foix-Béarn), in order to supervise English Gascony. There had been an earlier building on the same site of which there is no description. In the second half of the 15th century, Odet d' Aydie (1425–1498), right-hand man of Charles VII and later of Louis XI, become lord of Morlanne and transformed the austere castle with more chimneys and windows. Further alterations between the 16th century and the 19th century transformed the building over time into pleasurable residence.
In 1866, the castle became the property of Albert de Domec, a member of one of the oldest families in Morlanne which had owned the lay abbey for centuries. Various families owned the castle until World War II, when the castle became uninhabited and succumbed to ruin.
In 1969, the historian Raymond Ritter (1894–1974) acquired the castle and decided to restore the building as a medieval fortress. Works included restoring the defences of the surrounding wall towards the west starting from the keep, filling in windows added in the 18th and 19th centuries in the part of the enclosing wall next to the keep, rebuilding of the upper half of the keep and some of the buildings that had disappeared from the south-west of the courtyard.
In 1975, M. and Mme. Ritter left the castle as well as its collection of works of art and furniture to the département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
The most harmonious furniture collections are on the first floor. A bedroom from the time of the Consulate and Empire has two mahogany beds. The Louis XVI room is hung with silks decorated with gold buttons. The library evokes the period of the Constitutional Monarchy (1791). On the second floor are the Louis XVI bedroom and a gallery of modern paintings.
Among the paintings on display is a view of Venice by Canaletto, a painting of the face of an old man by Fragonard, The Reader by Colson, The Happy Family by Lépicié and Visit to the Wet Nurse by Boilly. Other artists represented include Pannini, Snyders and Roslin. An entire room is devoted to the works of the expressionist René Morère (1907–1942), a friend of the Ritters.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.