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Élysée Palace
Palais de l'Élysée (French)

The entrance to the Élysée Palace
Building
Location Paris, France
Address 55 rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris, France
Client Henri-Louis de la Tour d'Auvergne
Current tenants President of France since 1874
Construction
Started 1718
Completed 1722

The Élysée Palace (French: Palais de l'Élysée, IPA: [palɛ də.l‿elize]) is the official residence of the President of the French Republic, containing his office, and is where the Council of Ministers meets. It is located near the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Important foreign visitors are hosted at the nearby Hôtel de Marigny, a palatial residence. The Élysée has gardens, in which the president hosts a party on the afternoon of Bastille Day. The resident and president has been Nicolas Sarkozy since 2007.

Contents

History

The architect Armand-Claude Mollet[1] possessed a property fronting on the road to the village of Roule, west of Paris (now the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré), and backing onto royal property, the Grand Cours through the Champs-Élysées. He sold this in 1718 to Henri Louis de La Tour d'Auvergne, comte d'Évreux (families: ducs and princes de Bouillon et Sedan: de la Marck | von der Marck), with the agreement that Mollet would construct an hôtel particulier for the count, fronted by an entrance court and backed by a garden. The Hôtel d'Évreux was finished and decorated by 1722, and though it has undergone many modifications since, it remains a fine example of the French classical style. At the time of his death in 1753, Évreux was the owner of one of the most widely admired houses in Paris, and it was bought by King Louis XV as a residence for the Marquise de Pompadour, his mistress. Opponents showed their distaste for the regime by hanging signs on the gates that read: "Home of the King's whore"[citation needed]. After her death, it reverted to the crown.

In 1773, it was purchased by Nicolas Beaujon, banker to the Court and one of the richest men in France, who needed a suitably sumptuous "country house" (for the city of Paris did not yet extend this far) to house his fabulous collection of great masters paintings. To this end, he hired the architect Étienne-Louis Boullée to make substantial alterations to the buildings (as well as design an English-style garden). Soon on display there were such well-known masterpieces as Holbein's The Ambassadors (now in the National Gallery in London), and Frans Hals' Bohemian (now at the Louvre). His architectural alterations and art galleries gave this residence international renown as "one of the premier houses of Paris". Beaujon owned it until the year of his death, when he transferred the property to King Louis XVI.

During the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the building receded in importance, becoming a furniture warehouse, then a print factory, then a dance hall.

Russian Cossacks camped at the Élysée when they occupied Paris in 1814.

Though it was first officially used by the government of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Hôtel d'Évreux was formally purchased for Louis XVIII in 1816. Under the provisional government of the Second Republic, it took the name of the Élysée National and was designated the official residence of the President of the Republic. (The President also has the use of several other official residences, including the Château de Rambouillet, forty five kilometres southwest of Paris, and the Fort de Brégançon near Marseille.)

The palace seen from the gardens

In 1853, following his coup d'état that ended the Second Republic, Napoléon III charged the architect Joseph-Eugène Lacroix with renovations; meanwhile he moved to the nearby Tuileries Palace, but kept the Élysée as a discreet place to meet his mistresses, moving between the two palaces through a secret underground passage that has since been demolished.[citation needed] Since Lacroix completed his work in 1867, the essential look of the Palais de l'Élysée has remained the same.

In 1873, during the Third Republic, The Élysée became the official presidential residence.

In 1917, an orangutan escaped from a nearby ménagerie, entered the palace and was said to have tried to haul the wife of President Raymond Poincaré into a tree only to be foiled by Élysée guards. President Paul Deschanel, who resigned in 1920 because of mental illness, was said to have been so impressed by the orangutan's feat that, to the alarm of his guests, he took to jumping into trees during state receptions.

The hall of festivities during the 1990 CSCE conference

The Élysée Palace was closed in June 1940, and remained empty during World War II. It was reoccupied only in 1946 by Vincent Auriol, President of the Provisional Government, then first President of the Fourth Republic from 1947 to 1954.

Between 1959 and 1969, the Élysée was occupied by Charles de Gaulle, the first President of the Fifth Republic. De Gaulle did not like its lack of privacy, and oversaw the purchase of the luxurious Hôtel de Marigny to lodge foreign State officials in visit to France, saying, "I do not like the idea of meeting kings walking around my corridors in their pyjamas."

Socialist President François Mitterrand, who governed from 1981 to 1995, is said to have seldom used its private apartments, preferring the privacy of his own home on the more bohemian Left Bank: a discreet flat in the Élyséee was occupied by the mother of his natural daughter Mazarine Pingeot.

By contrast, his successor Jacques Chirac lived throughout his two terms in office (1995-2007) in the Élysée apartments with his wife Bernadette.

Chirac increased the Palace's budget by 105% to 90 million euros per year, according to the book L'argent caché de l'Élysée. One million euros per year is spent on drinks alone for the guests invited to the Élysée Palace, 6.9 million euros per year on bonuses for presidential staff, 6.1 million euros per year on the 145 extra employees Chirac hired after he was elected in 1995, and 81,012 euros per year as a salary for the President.

Chirac's successor Nicolas Sarkozy also lives in the Élysée, along with his third wife, Carla Bruni Sarkozy.

References

  1. ^ Armand Claude Mollet (1660-1742), from the Mollet dynasty of royal gardeners, was the house architect for Henri-Louis, comte de Dreux. Sharing responsibilities for the Tuileries Garden with André Le Nôtre's nephew Jean Le Nôtre, he was accepted into the Académie royale d'architecture in 1699.

Bibliography

  • René Dosière, L'argent caché de l'Élysée, Seuil, 2007

External links

Coordinates: 48°52′13″N 2°18′59″E / 48.87028°N 2.31639°E / 48.87028; 2.31639

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