As many rooms as days in the year
This mansion was built from 1718 by the Count of Evreux, Henri-Louis de la Tour d'Auvergne. Subsequently, he notably housed the Marquise de Pompadour, the young Alfred de Vigny (future leader of romantic writers), Marshal Murat, Napoleon I, the ex-Empress Josephine and Tsar Alexander I. In 1797, the ground floor was even converted into a dance and games establishment! Located a stone's throw from the Champs-Elysées, the former Hôtel d'Evreux has hosted the President of the Republic since 1848. But Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte neglected this home in favor of the Tuileries Palace after being proclaimed emperor under the name of Napoleon III, in 1852. The Elysée palace really became the permanent residence of the President from Patrice de Mac-Mahon in 1874. The palace has as many rooms as there are days in the year. In fact, far from being reserved for the Head of State alone, its 365 rooms accommodate a multitude of collaborators and employees.
The east wing, the private residence
It is the most secret building in the palace. It cannot be visited, even during Heritage Days! The first floor of the eastern wing constitutes the private apartments of the President and his family. Each guest can arrange the eight rooms by choosing, if they wish, from the 80,000 pieces of furniture, rugs and tapestries restored and preserved by the Mobilier national. But Georges Pompidou and François Mitterrand preferred to appeal to contemporary creators Pierre Paulin and Philippe Starck. The ground floor is reserved for so-called "semi-official" apartments (private receptions, first lady's office, in the Blue Lounge, up to Valérie Trierweiler …)
The Golden Salon, the president's office
Charles de Gaulle, founder and first president of the Fifth Republic, set up his office in the living room on the first floor. The room, covered with gilding since the Second Empire, offers a privileged view of the garden. His successors respected his choice, with the exception of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing who did not want to commit the sacrilege of moving in the place of the general. Sitting in an Empire armchair, the Head of State works on a Louis XV desk in violet wood, lit by a Napoleon III chandelier with 56 crystals. We understand why we sometimes give him the nickname "republican monarch"!
The English park, a small forest
Originally, the French-style flowerbeds of the Count of Evreux were deployed behind the castle. But in 1773, the financier Nicolas Beaujon, new owner, redeveloped the park in the English style then fashionable. Despite the changes that have taken place over the past two centuries, the scattered groves still cover most of the area. Next to a hundred-year-old chestnut tree, the plane tree planted in 1780 is like a dean. Since the 1990s, plants, flower beds and a pool with water jets complete this arrangement. The July 14 reception is held on the long lawn overlooking the palace.
The Murat room, the Council of Ministers
Every Wednesday morning, since the start of Georges Pompidou's mandate in 1969, the same ritual has taken place in this long room on the ground floor. The Head of State chairs the Council of Ministers in the presence of the Head of Government. Brother-in-law of Napoleon I, Marshal Murat decorated this living room in 1805 in the Empire style, multiplying the Corinthian columns leaning against the wall and the pilasters, false rectangular pillars… During the Council, a yellow copper pendulum occupies the center of the table, between the president and the Prime Minister, seated face to face. The two dials allow everyone to read the time!
West wing, official receptions
The western part of the palace hosts the main official receptions. A strange annex extends the room. In 1881, President Jules Grévy backed a greenhouse with exotic plants. This winter garden was completely rebuilt in the 1970s and 80s. Today, only the glass dome recalls its origin. But traditions die hard at the Elysee: orange trees at the Palace of Versailles decorate the old glass gallery. The village hall, inaugurated in 1889 by Sadi Carnot, has ten French windows pierced at the request of François Mitterrand who wanted to find more natural light.
Article published in the issue Femme Actuelle Jeux Voyages n ° 23 April-May 2017
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