In the very last site visit of our program, we went to the French Senate located in Luxembourg Place where we learned more about the French government and the history of the building. The visit was bittersweet because we got to see the grandeur of the palace and amazing sights such as Napoleon’s throne and Victor Hugo’s senate seat, it also meant that our time together was coming to an end as shortly after, people started heading to the airport.
While we waited on the tour to begin, we were given a brief civics lesson on how the senate in France works; it is interesting to see how similar yet how different this Senate is to the one at home. The Senate is the upper house of the Parliament; they review bills and monitor the government. Unlike the National Assembly, they can not be dissolved and act as a guarantee of institutional stability. Senators are elected for 6-year terms through indirect elections carried out by population-proportionate districts.
After this, we got to walk through the palace, starting in the west wing, which is the original building built by Queen Marie de’ Medici. Here we learned about the many historical aspects of the building.
We started our visit in the famous Salle du Livre d’Or which is the only part that remains the same from Queen Marie de’ Medici original palace.
After the French Revolution, the Palace was converted into a legislature and was briefly the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte since he was the first consul of the Republic. From this comes some of the palaces most interesting artifacts. The Salle des Conférences was commissioned during the second Empire and thus holds mainly that stye but it also includes Napoleon’s Throne which was used both by Napoleon and Napoleon III.
After we walked through here we went into the main Senate chamber where we learned about the Senate’s procedures, and we got the rare honor of being able to sit in their seats; we are able to literally see everything from their positions. We saw the seats of previous notable senators such as Victor Hugo.
Then we made our way to the Library where we were able to look in, the Senate holds many copies very old and rare books including some that in Napoleon’s collections. After that we walked out through the grand main entrance into the Luxembourg Gardens, It truly was a memorable end to an amazing summer.