The Élysée Palace has been the official residence of the President of Francesince 1848. Dating to the early 18th century, it contains the office of the President and the meeting place of the Council of Ministers. It is located near the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, the name Élysée deriving from Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology.
Important foreign visitors are hosted at the nearby Hôtel de Marigny, a palatial residence.
The architect Armand-Claude Molet 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 Louis Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne, Count of Évreux (families: Dukes and Princes of Bouillon and Sedan: La Marck | von der Marck), with the agreement that Mollet would construct an hôtel particulier for the count, fronted by an entrance courtand 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”. 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”.
The palace and gardens were purchased from Beaujon by Bathilde d’Orléans, Duchess of Bourbon in 1787 for 1,300,000 livres. It was the Duchess who named it the Élysée. She also built a group of cottages in the gardens which she named the Hameau de Chantilly, after the Hameau at her father-in-law’s Château de Chantilly. With the French Revolution, the Duchess fled the country and the Élysée was confiscated. It was leased out. The gardens were used for eating, drinking, and dancing, under the name Hameau de Chantilly; and the rooms became gambling houses.
In 1803, the Élysée was sold to Joachim Murat, and in 1808, to the Emperor, and it became known as the Élysée-Napoléon. After the Battle of Waterloo, Napoléon returned to the Élysée, signed his abdication there on 22 June 1815, and left the Élysée on the 25th.
Russian Cossacks camped at the Élysée when they occupied Paris in 1814. The property was then returned to its previous owner, the Duchesse de Bourbon, who then sold it to her royal cousin, Louis XVIII, in 1816.
Under the provisional government of the Second Republic, it took the name of the Élysée Nationaland 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.)
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. 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 1899, Félix Faure became the only French President to die in the palace.