Within these ancient walls, our history was written: from Madame de Pompadour to Napoleon I, from Victor Hugo to General de Gaulle, a thousand renowned figures and unknown faces contributed to make them what they are today, over the course of the events, small and large, that shape a nation.

01 The history of Hôtel d'Évreux

1718 - 1773 Hôtel d'Évreux

In the early 18th century, Paris was mid-boom, and a number of private mansions were built in the faubourgs. On the advice of the Regent, Louis-Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne, Count of Evreux, acquired marsh land in 1718 on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which at the time was a simple road lined with cottages in the middle of the woods, to build himself a mansion worthy of his status. 

Portrait d'Henri-Louis de La Tour d’Auvergne, comte d’Evreux par Hyacinthe Rigaud
Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659 - 1743), Henri-Louis de La Tour d’Auvergne (1679 - 1753), Count of Evreux, Maréchal de France, United States, New York (NY), The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/image of the MMA

The architect Armand-Claude Mollet was tasked with the main building, to be built of cut stone, on two levels, with a mansard roof, with a boundary to the north marked by a cobbled courtyard surrounded by utilitarian buildings, which were to be communal (stables, kitchens, laundry), and to the south marked by a French garden. The Encyclopédie named it “the most beautiful mansion in the Paris area”. Of course, the Count of Evreux financed the construction of his mansion thanks to the considerable dowry of his wife Marie-Anne, daughter of Antoine Crozat, an extremely wealthy businessman who made his fortune in the slave trade.

The Count lived there until his death in 1753. The mansion was then sold by auction and acquired by the favourite of Louis XV, the Marquise de Pompadour. She completed the decorating and changed the layout of the garden by expanding it on the Champs-Élysées side, but only resided there for a short time, preferring Versailles. 

46e Vue d’Optique représentant le Jardin et l’Hôtel d’Évreux appartenant à Madame la Marquise de Pompadour
Anonymous, 46th perspective view showing the Garden and Hôtel d’Evreux belonging to the Marquise de Pompadour, published by Jean-François Daumont around 1754. Coloured etching. © Paris, Musée Carnavalet/Roger-Viollet

The origins of the Élysée

1773 - 1786 Hôtel Beaujon

In 1773, the wealthy Bordeaux banker, Nicolas Beaujon, purchased the mansion, which he renovated with the help of architect Étienne-Louis Boullée.

His spectacular collection of paintings was regularly opened up to curious Parisians, who could admire La Bohémienne by Frans Hals, and Les Ambassadeurs by Hans Holbein.

Peinture de Jean-Frédéric Schall, Quand l'hymen dort, l'amour veille, vers 1780.
Jean-Frédéric Schall, Quand l'hymen dort, l'amour veille, vers 1780. This painting is said to have been inspired by the banker Nicolas Beaujon. Hydropicus, moving with difficulty, liked to be surrounded by young, pretty nurses, with whom he demanded exclusive platonic love which, if we are to believe the painting, was not always respected. We can see the banker, with his cane, and in the background the Fontaine aux Lions, to which Paris had not yet added the decorative rock.

1786 - 1799 The Élysée Bourbon

Upon the arrival of the Duchess of Bourbon, a cousin of King Louis XVI, the mansion was extended and embellished to host fabulous receptions.

Amid the turmoil of the Revolution, the mansion was confiscated, and served a number of purposes, from the seat of the Law Commission and the Law Bulletin Printing Works, to the National Repository for Furniture seized from emigrants or convicted prisoners.

In 1797, it was returned to the Duchess of Bourbon who, lacking resources, decided to turn the garden into a public park, featuring grottos, waterfalls, fountains and mazes.

1804 - 1815 From the Élysée-Murat to the Élysée-Napoleon

At the turn of the 19th century, the Palace came under the ownership of Prince Joachim Murat and his wife Caroline, sister of Napoleon I, who began princely renovations.

Caroline commissioned decorative elements from the greatest artists of the time, while Joachim mandated architects Barthélémy Vignon and Jean-Thomas Thibault with the design of the grand staircase in the hall. 

When they became King and Queen of Naples in 1808, Joachim and Caroline Murat left all their French possessions to the Emperor, who resided there periodically. “It is my sanatorium”, he liked to say. But the good care he took of his health and his empire were not enough to prevent his downfall: on 15 June 1815, he signed his abdication on the little desk in the silver room. 

Portrait d’Achille Murat par François Gérard, 1808
François Gérard, Portrait of Achille Murat, 1808, Oil on wood, Inventory no.: CR 0064, City of Geneva, Musées d'art et d'histoire. Legs Gustave Revilliod, Geneva, 1890 © Musée d'art et d'histoire, City of Geneva, photographer: Bettina Jacot-Descombes

1815 - 1870 From one emperor to another

The palace changed hands several times after the abdication of the Emperor, serving briefly as a residence for the Duke and Duchess of Berry, before becoming an annex to the Tuileries palace, used to host foreign princes and aristocrats visiting Paris. 

In 1848, the Élysée became the residence by decree of the first President of the French Republic, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. He lived there with his family until the 1852 coup d’état elevated his rank to emperor, prompting him to move from the Hôtel d'Évreux to the Tuileries Palace, which was much larger and more central.

Estampe représentant le quartier de l’Élysée
Anonymous, The Élysée district, print, Paris, Musée Carnavalet, History of Paris

Nonetheless, the Élysée continued to play host to the luxurious receptions of the Second Empire, enlarged with new service buildings and a ballroom, which today still bears the name Napoleon III Room.

Since 1870 The Palace of the Presidents of the Republic

After the Franco-Prussian war, during the Third Republic the Élysée Palace became the official residence of the Head of State, a status that led to major renovations. A huge ceremonial room was inaugurated at the 1889 World Expo.

The cloakrooms were installed in a huge glass corridor that ran along the courtyard façade, nicknamed “the monkey cage” by the press at the time.

Electricity was installed at the turn of the century, followed by hot water, central heating and modern kitchens in the basement, which made it possible to hold banquets with more than 250 guests. 

General de Gaulle’s accession to the presidency in 1958 placed the presidential institution at the heart of French political life, and gave the palace a central role. Not all presidents adopted it as their personal residence, but each made changes to the building, whether it was pieces of furniture designed by Paulin at the request of Georges Pompidou, the underground nuclear command post installed by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, or French windows which bathed the ballroom in natural light, added under François Mitterrand.

The Élysée Palace today

Rooted in its past with its course set on the future, the Élysée takes care of its heritage through regular restoration work, while remaining open to contemporary creation, with a routine rotation of art displayed that showcases young artists.

The ground floor is accessible to persons with reduced mobility, and an entry ramp was installed to the left of the front steps. 

Much more than a palace, and far from being a museum, the Élysée is a living house, kept alive by the many hands that work there and the visitors that come through it. Its purpose is to represent the French people to the world, to be the showcase of expertise of those who built, decorated and renovated it, and of our art of hospitality, our gastronomy and our contemporary creative works.

Découvrez le Palais de l’Elysée. Une exploration interactive, ludique et à 360° de ce lieu historique.

02 The faces of the palace

03 The palace in figures


m2 including 300 m2 of private apartments




hectares of parkland


species of trees


flowers planted each year




Mobilier National pieces of furniture


works of art

04 History through blueprints

05 History of the gardens

06 The archives

Credits and acknowledgements

Design: Ability
Integration and development: Sensiolabs & CGI
Direction and drafting of exhibition texts: Communication Directorate
Documentary and iconographic research: Archives and Remembrance Department and Heritage Department
Audio recording: Event production department

The copyrights are specified after each reproduction of a work. 

The Presidency of the French Republic expresses its warmest thanks to the Orchestra of the Republican Guard, directed by Colonel François Boulanger, for the recording of three pieces:

  • Wolfgang-Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg Symphony No.1 K136
  • Camille Saint-Saens, Valse Mignonne, Op.104, played by Jean-Christian Le Coz
  • Jean-Baptiste Lully, March for the Turkish Ceremony

We also thank Jean-François Delhay, Architecte des Bâtiments de France, Michel Goutal, Architecte en Chef des Monuments Historiques, and Sylvain Moisy, head of the Gardens Department.

Selective bibliography

  • Jean Coural, Le Palais de l'Élysée. Histoire et décor, Paris, Délégation à l'action artistique de la Ville de Paris, 1994
  • François d’Orcival, Histoires de l'Élysée, Paris, Tempus, 2017
  • Patrice Duhamel, Jacques Santamaria, L’Elysée. Histoires, secrets, mystères, nouvelle édition augmentée, Paris, Plon, 2017
  • Georges Poisson, L'Histoire de l'Élysée, éditions Librairie académique, Perrin.
  • Adrien Goetz, Antoine Tézenas, Résidences présidentielles, Paris, Flammarion, 2021

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