Palais de l'Elysée

Palais de l'Elysée (28)

The Elysees Palace is the current residence of the President of France, whose rooms are situated on the second floor. It has been the official residence of the presidents of the republic since 1873.

The history of this house, however, dates back to the early 18th century, when this area was a flat piece of land for grazing and orchards and the occasional hovel. In 1718 the Count of Evreux bought some land to build a mansion. The architect Armand-Claude Mollet began the construction of the mansion between a parade ground and a French-style garden. It had a central body of three floors and two wings of one floor only. As the years went by and with its respective new owners, the mansion was subjected to transformations and several remodellings.

Despite the decoration in many of rooms having suffered some modifications, they still conserve a large part of their original appearance. 

After the death of the Count of Evreux the mansion was bought by the Marchioness of Pompadour, who had the garden reorganised, adding porticoes, arbours, waterfalls, a gilded grotto and a maze.

The marchioness left her house to Louis XV who used it to accommodate the extraordinary ambassadors who lived in Paris. Later he used it to present the paintings of Joseph Vernet to the public.

From being the most beautiful mansion in Paris, in 1768 it became the Furniture Warehouse of the Crown. Some years later it was bought by a banker, Nicolás Beaujon, who returned it to the royal family in 1786. From then on it received the biggest reforms since its construction. The garden was transformed into an English-style garden.

The mansion was once again used to accommodate ambassadors until Louis XVI sold it to his cousin, The Duchess of Bourbon, who gave it the name of Hôtel de Borbon. During the revolution the duchess was arrested and the mansion was the first headquarters of the Commission for Issuing Laws and Printers and later the national deposit of furniture confiscated from the condemned. After the duchess had been released, she returned to her home. But to pay her expenses she had to rent out the first floor and authorise her tenant to be able to organise popular dances in it.

In this period the mansion took on its definitive name of the Elysee Palace, in reference to the avenue of the Champs Elysees which was very nearby.

The residence once again passed through several hands when the Duchess of Bourbon was exiled to Spain. First the Hovyn family and later Marshal Murat, who finally transferred all his possessions to the Emperor, including the Elysee.

Napoleon lived here from 1809 until he left on the Austrian campaign and left the house to Josephine when he divorced her. Napoleon would return to take over the Elysee in 1812, two hours before signing his abdication in the Silver Room.

Among the illustrious guests that occupied the mansion until it once again became Crown property were Tsar Alexander and the Duke of Wellington.

It was in 1848 when the National Assembly decreed that the Elysee would be the residence of the President of the Republic, but it was not until 1873 when the first president definitively lived here, Marshal MacMahon.

As you will appreciate, it cannot be visited.

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