Palais-Bourbon. Assemblée-Nationale

Palais-Bourbon. Assemblée-Nationale (30)

France is intimately connected to the royal house of Bourbon. And its capital was not going to be less connected, offering the visitor several examples of its influence over Gallic lands. The palace follows the same style as that of the Grand Trianon of Versailles.

The most direct way of reaching the Bourbon Palace is by crossing the Concorde bridge from the square of the same name. We can then walk straight to the palace gates, which today is the entrance to the National Assembly of France.

To whom do we owe the existence of this architectural jewel? The answer is the Duchess Louise of Bourbon, daughter of Louis XIV, who ordered a palace to be built for her. As in all the other grand works, several architects were involved in the project. The first ones to be responsible for the work, Giardini and Cailleteau passed away and Aubert and Gabriel continued. It was the latter who completed it. This was not, however, the end of the works. In 1764 the Prince of Condé, who had some free time on his hands, wanted to enlarge the palace. The works continued until the time of the revolution. That was when the revolutionaries decided that they liked the palace and requisitioned it to declare it a “national asset”.

Disconnected from royalty, the palace initially housed the Polytechnic School before being designated the headquarters of the Council of Five-hundred in 1795. And of course, once again the workers were called upon to make reforms. The architect Fontaine was in charge of undertaking the works.

It seems that nobody liked this palace because once again, Napoleon I decided to intervene in the works to rebuild the north façade. From this period date the twelve Greek-style columns, very similar to those of the church of the Madeleine. Even though there was no photography then, Napoleon had himself immortalised in relief work on this façade. Here he could be seen on horseback with the flags taken during the Battle of Austerlitz.

Nobody could have imagined that the Bourbons would one day return to the throne. And that they would not like the reforms made to the palace. The first thing they did on returning to their residence was replace Napoleon’s pediment. They replaced Napoleon for Louis XVIII and the flags for the constitutional charter that the king issued to the French. The Monarchy of July also replaced this second pediment on which today can be read: France stands before his throne, accompanied by Strength and Justice, calling on the elite to create laws… The signature on the pediment is that of Jean Pierre Cortot.

The inside was also modified and during the times of the Restoration and the Second Empire it was the headquarters of the different Chambers of Deputies. Since 1879 it has been the National Assembly of the French Republic. The National Assembly is one of the two parts of the French parliament. The other is the Senate. 

Inside the Bourbon Palace we can also come across the Museum of the National Assembly, which contains a valuable library. Its archives are made up of assets confiscated from the aristocracy. Among them feature manuscripts by Rousseau and the Codex Borbonicus, a valuable Aztec document of a religious nature.              

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