During the European Heritage Days, in September, you can explore the Élysée Palace, stronghold of the French president and one of the Heritage Days’ five most-visited sites.
In the early 18C, Paris was expanding rapidly and aristocrats were building mansions in the outlying quarters, or faubourgs, of the capital. The Palais de l’Élysée was erected for the Comte d’Évreux in 1718 in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, not far from the Champs-Élysées, so named in reference to the Elysian Fields where the heroes of Greek mythology went to enjoy themselves in the afterlife. After the count’s death, the Marquise de Pompadour took possession of the premises.
At the end of the century, the palace became a public entertainment hall and, as such, it was still miraculously intact at the end of the revolution. The State Residence under Napoleon Bonaparte, it was first inhabited by Murat, who was Napoleon’s sister Caroline’s husband. The Murats entirely refurbished the Élysée and Napoleon settled there in 1808 and stayed until he left for the Austria campaign. After losing Waterloo, he signed his abdication in the Élysée’s Silver Room on 22 June 1815.
Following the revolution of 1848, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, the future Napoleon III, resided in the Élysée until the coup d’état of 1851. Afterwards, with Empress Eugénie, he completely renovated the palace; much of the current layout dates from that era.
The Palace became the official residence of French heads of state under the Third Republic, after Maréchal de Mac Mahon, who was elected in 1873, moved in.
Unoccupied between 13 June 1940 and 1946, the Élysée became the presidential palace once again under Vincent Auriol.
Palais de l'Elysée
55, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré