Elysee Palace in Paris, designed by Armand-Claude Mollet and completed in 1722, is the official residence of the French president.
When the Armand-Claude Mollet (King Louis XV‘s court architect) designed Palais de l’Élysée was completed, it first acted as a townhouse of a nobleman…
…under the name Hôtel d’Évreux and ownership by Henri Louis de La Tour d’Auvergne.
The palace — one of the best examples of classical French architecture style and furnished in Régence (an early version of Rococo) — quickly became one of the most respected houses in Paris.
It was admired even by the French royalty, with Louis XV liking the building so much, that he bought it in 1753…to be used as a residence by his lover, Marquise de Pompadour.
PHOTO: A view to the Palais de l’Élysée main entrance, at Rue Saint-Honoré. On the other side of the palace, within a short walk, is the most famous street in Paris, Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
After the death of the king’s lover, Marquise de Pompadour, in 1773, the palace was acquired by the court’s banker, Nicolas Beaujon.
He used the building as an exhibition space for his personal art collection, which included several masterworks, such as…
- “The Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein the Younger, and
- “Bohemienne” by Frans Hals (which, today, is on display at the Louvre Paris France).
The court banker, Beaujon, had the building significantly reconstructed, under the guidance of architect Étienne-Louis Boullée, who also added English gardens to the palace.
With the refurbishments and the magnificent art collection inside, Hôtel d’Évreux gained an international reputation (towards the late 18th century) as one of the “must-see” houses in Paris.
The first time Hôtel d’Évreux was called “Élysée Palace” (inspired by the nearby Champs-Élysée avenue) was by Bathilde Marie Louise d’Orleans, the daughter of the Duke of Orléans, when she lived at the building, from 1787.
Just a few short years later, however, with the events of French Revolution (1789–1799), the palace’s significance diminished rapidly…and it first became a furniture storage, then a printing house, and later a dance hall.
It wasn’t until 1816 that the palace’s status was restored, when King Louis XVIII purchased it.
The building became “Élysée National” during the French Second Republic (1848-1852), when it was also made (for the first time) the official residence for the president of the French republic.
When the French Second Republic was dismantled through a coup d’etat in 1853, King Napoléon III gave orders to renovate the building, with architect Joseph-Eugène Lacroix commissioned to do the work.
These renovation efforts, which were completed in 1867, are responsible for the current Elysee Palace facade.
The building has been an official residence for the French president since the French Third Republic, from 1873, with only wars dictating changes to the arrangement.
When president Charles de Gaulle lived in the palace, 1959-1969, he arranged the purchase of the nearby Hôtel de Marigny (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hôtel_de_Marigny), to house notable foreign state dignitaries on their visits to France.
Today, the palace consists of…
- the main building, still called “Hôtel d’Évreux”, as well as of
- western and
- eastern wings.
In total, the palace complex has 11,179 m² of living space. 300 m² of the area has been reserved to be used as the president’s personal residence.
Elysee Palace has 365 rooms, 90 of which are on the basement level…
…and to make the palace functional for stately events, there is a staff of around 1,000 people.
The palace gardens, which contains around 40 different species of plants and flowers, covers an adjacent area of 1.5 hectares.
Due to the palace’s role as a residence for the French president, there are no public tours to the building.
In fact, the last time there was a “public visitation day” to the entire palace, was on 14th of July, 1977, during Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s presidency.
You can plan your European heritage days French itinerary from the event’s official website, at www.journeesdupatrimoine.culture.fr.