Hôtel d’Evreux

The Palais Elysee is located in the aristocratic Faubourg Saint-Honoré, a stone’s throw from the Louvre Palace.

Palais Elysee - Palace and central lawn seen from Grille du Coq
Palace and central lawn seen from Grille du Coq

It has been the official residence of President of the French Republic since 1871.

The Count of Evreux commissioned the architect Mollet with its construction in 1718. The area was then deserted and mostly wooded!

The lavish mansion changed hands many times in the following decades.

Madame de Pompadour, the favourite of Louis XV, bought the Hôtel d’Evreux and surrounding land in 1754. 

She commissioned Lassurance, Boucher and Van Loo with its enlargement and decoration.

The financier Nicolas Beaujon acquired it in 1773 and commissioned the architect Etienne-Louis Boullée with its re-decoration.

Louis XV eventually inherited the property in 1786 and converted it to accommodate visitors of state.

Elysee-Bourbon

The Duchess of Bourbon-Condé bought the Hôtel d’Evreux in 1787 and renamed it Elysée-Bourbon.

Palais Elysee - Formal gardens
Formal gardens

However, the French Revolution broke out two years later and the palace became national property.

A speculator purchased it and converted it into an entertainment hall.

Restaurants, games rooms, ballrooms and cafes therefore opened in the stately mansion, but amazingly saved it from destruction. 

These eventually closed and left place to a series of apartments.

Elysee-Napoleon

Fortunately, Joachim Murat, one of Napoleon‘s brothers-in-law, saved the building from further degradation. 

He indeed acquired it in 1805 and bequeathed it to the emperor, who ‘simply’ renamed it Elysée-Napoléon.

The emperor lived there until the Austrian campaign. He also signed his second abdication on June 22, 1815 in the Salon d’Argent.

Palais Elysee

Palais Elysee - Relaxing in the formal gardens
Relaxing in the formal gardens

The palace became part of the Crown estates in 1816 and Louis XVIII bequeathed the Palais Elysee to his nephew the Duke of Berry.

A few years later, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte prepared his coup of December 2, 1851 in the mansion. 

Once emperor, he took residence in the palace and commissioned Joseph-Eugène Lacroix with the enlargement and interior renovation.

Napoleon III commissioned the opening the Avenue Marigny and of a private access, the current Rue de l’Elysée, as well as the construction of the chapel and new facades that overlook it.

Grille du Coq

The gardens of the Palais Elysee are at the rear of the palace, on the Champs-Elysées side.

In 1900, President Emile Loubet commissioned Adrien Chancel with the creation of a cast iron gate to link the gardens to the Avenue Gabriel.

Chancel produced the stunning Belle Epoque Grille du Coq which is topped with a rooster, hence its name.

Palais Elysee gardens

A twisty path, Le Serpentin, skirts a central lawn and links the gate to palace.

Palais Elysee - Grille du Coq
Grille du Coq

The gardens spread over two hectares and boast over 100 different species of trees, shrubs and plants.

The flowerbeds include various species of roses, rhododendrons and bulbs. 

These provide continuous bloom from Spring to Autumn.

Nicolas Beaujon re-landscaped Madame de Pompadour’s formal gardens into an English style garden in 1773.

The Duchess of Bourbon added an artificial waterfall, mill, dairy and countless bridges and statues in the 1780s. 

These were removed during the Bourbon Restoration.

N.B. The gardens of the Palais Elysee are among the most elegant private gardens of Paris.

However, you  can visit them – and the palace – once a year, on Heritage Days.

Directions: 8th district – No.55 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré
Metro: Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau
Coordinates: Lat 48.870416 – Long 2.316754

Photo via Wikimedia Commons: Hôtel d’Evreux Public Domain

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