Elysee Palace, a lavish mansion
The Elysee Palace has been the official residence of the president of the French Republic since 1871.
Lavish decoration and unique furnishings turn it into the most prestigious palace of Paris.
Two wings frame the main building.
The main entrance, at no55 Rue du Faubourg-St-Honoré, opens onto the prestigious Cour d’Honneur.
The Grille du Coq links the gardens to the Avenue Gabriel which runs along the lower section of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
All the rooms overlook the gardens, except the Vestibule d’Honneur, which opens onto the Cour d’Honneur.
The Salon d’Argent is the official entrance to the private apartments located in the eastern wing.
It was decorated in Lilac and Silver, the colours of Caroline Murat, one of Napoleon‘s sisters.
The fabrics date from 1813, but have retained their soft and delicate shades.
They complement the white gold and silver of the panelling and furnishings and create a soothing atmosphere.
The cabinetmaker Jacob Desmalter produced the woodwork and furniture.
Napoleon signed his 2nd abdication in this room on June 22, 1815, after the defeat of Waterloo.
The act sits on the desk. He signed his 1st abdication in the Château de Fontainebleau.
Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (the future Napoleon III) fomented his coup in this room on December 2, 1851.
Salle à Manger Paulin
Paulin indeed lined the walls with moulded polyester and boxed the ceilings with anodised aluminium and decorated it with two round tables with tinted glass tops and cast aluminium central legs.
The dining room has always been subject to controversy, as it fails to blend with the mansion’s other rooms!
Bibliothèque – Library
This room was the bedroom of Duchess of Bourbon, Caroline Murat, Napoleon I, Duke of Berry and finally Napoleon III.
It has retained its curved wall and is the only original room left from Napoleon III’s private apartments.
The presidents of the Fourth Republic used it as a study but president Giscard d’Estaing converted it into a library.
Salle des Fêtes
The lavish Banqueting Hall is located in the western wing of the Elysee Palace.
It served for official ceremonies, important state dinners and receptions.
Guillaume Dubufe painted in 1896 the panels of the boxed-ceiling.
The Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins produced the (18th century) tapestries that adorn the walls.
President Carnot inaugurated it on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1889.
In 1984 President Mitterrand commissioned the opening of ten French windows on the south and east walls to bring more light into the hall.
The Salle des Fêtes opens onto the Winter Garden, the greenhouse built in 1881 to grow exotic plants.
The room was entirely refitted in 1976 and in 1984.
A huge tapestry depicting a scene from the Bible adorns the western wall.
The 19th century crystal chandeliers are identical to those of the Salle des Fêtes and Salon Napoleon III.
The Winter Garden today serves for official receptions and occasional working meetings.
The Salon Murat has hosted the Conseil des Ministres since the presidency of George Pompidou.
The meeting takes place every Wednesday morning around the large table that takes up the whole room.
The president sits in the centre and faces his Prime Minister.
This room was decorated for Joachim Murat, the brother-in-law of Napoleon I.
It contains two paintings of Murat by Horace Vernet, a painting of the Trajan Column in Rome and a console table with a porcelain decor produced in 1819 by the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres.
Salon Napoleon III
The architect Joseph-Eugène Lacroix built the lavish Salon Napoleon III in the 1870’s on the site of the Elysee Palace’s former orangery.
An imperial eagle and the monogram RF (République Française) surrounded by an olive branch adorn each ceiling corner!
The Salon Napoleon III today serves for press conferences.
Salon des Ambassadeurs
The Salon des Ambassadeurs, Murat’s ballroom, is now used by the president to meet foreign diplomats.
Once more we are in presence of exceptional furnishings. This room is one of the most prestigious in the Elysee Palace.
The clock sitting on the fireplace has a dial showing the month, moon phases and zodiac signs.
The salon is also adorned with a bronze statuette of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, a chandelier dating from the Bourbon Restoration and a carpet woven in 1990 in the workshops of the Manufacture Nationale de la Savonnerie.
The Salon Pompadour was the Marquise de Pompadour‘s state bedroom then Napoleon I’s bedchamber.
It contains a portrait of the Marquise, 17th century tapestries and Louis XV and Louis XVI furnishings.
The current president uses it to grant audience to his guests.
The Salon Cléopâtre, which was entirely renovated in 1992, was the Marquise’s dressing-room then Napoleon III’s study.
It takes its name from the Gobelins tapestry – Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra – that adorns it.
Salon des Portraits
The Salon des Portraits directly accesses the terrace.
It was named after the 8 portraits that adorn the upper walls:
Pope Pius IX, the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, King Victor Emmanuel of Italy, Star Nicolas I of Russia, Queen Victoria of England, King Frederick William of Prussia, Queen Isabella II of Spain and King William I of Wurttemberg.
It was President Sarkozy’s private study and boasts a contemporary desk created by the designers Chaix and Morel.
Salon des Aides de Camp
The Salon des Aides de Camp serves for the official lunches and dinners.
It boasts a carpet from the Château des Tuileries, and a replica of the fireplace in Louis XIV’s bedchamber at Versailles.
The Salon Doré (Golden Room), the president’s official study, fully deserves its name!
Nestled in the heart of the mansion, it has retained its decor created in 1861 by the painter Jean-Louis Gogon for Empress Eugénie.
It boats Gobelins tapestries, carpets from the Manufacture Nationale de la Savonnerie, a Napoleon III crystal chandelier and a chest of drawers by André Boulle.
The room’s masterpiece, though, is the Louis XV style desk the cabinetmaker Charles Cressent created in the 18th century!
The Salon Doré communicates with the Salon Vert and its large oval table.
The Green Room serves as a meeting room for the president and his close advisers.
Cour d’Honneur and Vestibule d’Honneur
Ministers, heads of state and official guests enter the Elysee palace via the Cour d’Honneur and are greeted by the president in the Vestibule D’Honneur.
Doric pilasters, white and red marble tiles and the impressive sculpture – Tribute to the French Revolution by Arman – adorn the vast and bright Hall of Honour.
Francois Mitterrand sponsored this artwork composed of two hundred white marble flags.
The Chagot Brothers designed the pair of crystal, gilt bronze and Italian marble candelabras that frame it.
These earned them a prize at the Exhibition of Products of the French Industry of 1819.
Salon des Tapisseries
The Salon des Tapisseries, next door, is decorated with luxurious tapestries and exhibits a copy of the French Constitution.
The Hôtel d’Evreux had no official staircase to link the Hall of Honour to the first floor.
The Escalier Murat, recognisable for its rails are adorned with gilded palm leaves, was therefore built in 1806.
It leads to a landing decorated with a bronze statue by Auguste Rodin, La Defense.
The statue stands in front of ‘Europe’, a canvas painted by Dubois in 1811.
The landing leads to two antechambers decorated with portraits of former presidents of the republic and furnished in elegant Empire style.
N.B. The Elysee palace is open to the public on Heritage Days. Queues are massive, arrive before 7am if you can and be prepare to wait for 3/4 hours.
Directions: 8th district -No.55 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré
Metro: Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau on Lines 1,13
Coordinates: Lat 48.870416 – Long 2.316754