The Palais and Jardins du Luxembourg were built by Marie de Medicis, Henri IV's widow, to remind her of the Palazzo Pitti and Giardino di Boboli of her native Florence. The palace is now the seat of the french Senat. Opposite the gates, scarcely noticeable on the end wall of the colonnade of no. 36, rue de Vaugirard, is a metre rule, set up during the revolution to guide the people in the introduction of the new metric system.
The Luxembourg gardens are the chief lung and recreation ground of the left bank, with tennis courts, pony rides, a children's playground, boules pitch, yachts to rent on the pond and, in the wilder southeast corner, a miniature orchid of elaborately espaliered pear trees. It has a distinctly mediterranean air on summer days. Strollers and sunbathers vie for their own metal chair or space on a bench, while the most contested spot for lovers is the shady, seventeenth-century Fontaine de Medicis, in the northeast corner. There are many other sculptural works in the park, including an 1890 monument to the painter Delacroix by Jules Dalou.