The president of France lives at the Élysée Palace, which was constructed in 1722. Initially, the palace was built for Henri Louis who was a French nobleman. Louis had no children and therefore had no descendants. In 1848, the building was used as the president’s office for the first time. Currently, the palace serves as the residence, office, and a place to hold official meetings. The palace is located in Paris near the Champs-Élysées in the 8th Arrondissement. The name of the palace is derived from the Elysian Fields which according to Greek mythology is the place of the blessed dead. Foreign dignitaries are hosted in a nearby palatial residence known as Hôtel de Marigny.
The palace was officially named the president's residence during the second republic. Other than the Élysée Palace, the president also has other official residences which include Fort de Brégançon found near Marseille, and Château de Rambouillet, which is located some 28 miles southwest of Paris. In 1853, Napoleon II took the leadership of France after a coup that ended the second republic and ordered Joseph Eugene Lacroix, who was an architect to renovate the palace. The renovation was accomplished in 1867 and the appearance of the palace has remained relatively unchanged since that time.
History of Élysée Palace
In 1940, the palace was closed down and it remained unused during the Second World War. Vincent Auriol, who was the president of the provisional government, occupied the palace in 1946. Auriol was the French president of the 4th republic between 1947 and 1954. From 1959 to 1969, Charles de Gaulle was the occupant of the palace as the first president of the Fifth Republic. It is said that de Gaulle was not impressed with the lack of privacy in the palace and purchased the luxurious Hôtel de Marigny, where he could meet foreign dignitaries visiting France. President Georges Pompidou in the 1970s ordered the change of some rooms in the palace into the modern style, and they were designed by Pierre Paulin. Francois Mitterrand, who was the French president between 1981 and 1995, seldom used the palace and preferred using his own home instead. Jacques Chirac, who succeeded Mitterrand for two terms between 1995 and 2007, lived with his family in the palace for the two terms.
Interesting Facts About the Palace
Currently, the palace is comprised of 365 offices, rooms, and salons all occupying an area of 120,331 square feet. The most decorated rooms are the Hall of Honor also known in French as Vestibule d’Honneur, the Silver Room which is known in French as Salon d’Argent, and the Hall of Festivities which is known in French as Salle des Fêtes. The Golden Room is the president’s study room, and it is known as Salon Doré in French. Other items found in the palace include 6,500 pieces of tableware and over 2,000 bottles of grand-crus wines. There are also 2,000 precious pieces of furniture, which include 200 tapestries and 90 tablecloths used for prestigious guests. There are 800 members of the palace including 350 soldiers.