Since 1959, the Hôtel de Matignon has been the official workplace and residence of the French Prime Ministers. What does this private mansion, the French government’s top place, look like? Discover a glimpse of this so secret place!
The history of the Hôtel de Matignon
The private mansion of the princes and princesses of Monaco
In 1722, the Marshal of France, Christian-Louis de Montmorency-Luxembourg, asked the architect Jean Courtonne to build a mansion on his land in the Faubourg de Saint-Germain. The work proved to be very costly: the marshy grounds had to be drained and filled in, so the mansion was sold before its completion to Jacques III de Matignon in 1723.
His son, Jacques IV de Matignon, husband of Princess Grimaldi of Monaco, was the first occupant. Through inheritance, the hotel was the Parisian residence of the princes and princesses of Monaco until the French Revolution.
After the Revolution, the Hôtel de Matignon passed from hand to hand. It was bought by Talleyrand, who sold it to Napoleon in 1811. During the Restoration, Louis XVIII exchanged it for the Palais de l’Élysée with Adélaïde l’Orléans.
In 1852, the Duke and Duchess of Galliera bought the hotel and had it restored. In 1886, the Duchess of Galliera donated it to the Emperor of Austria-Hungary to make it his embassy.
After the First World War, the hotel was placed under sequestration, considered as enemy property. It was finally bought by France in 1922 and classified as a Historic Monument in 1923.
Matignon: the residence of the Prime Minister
In 1935, the Hôtel de Matignon was assigned to the head of the French government, first to the Presidents of the Council, then to the Prime Ministers from the Fifth Republic, in 1959.
Visit the Hôtel de Matignon
The vestibule serves as a transitional space between the courtyard of honor and the first floor salons, and gives access to the dining room.
The staircase dates from the middle of the 19th century. Contrary to appearances, the walls are not covered with marble but with trompe l’oeil paint! This staircase serves the office of the Prime Minister and his closest collaborators.
The Prime Minister’s office, called the “white room”, is the central room of the floor. The desk is the one on which Léon Blum signed the Matignon Agreements (agreements that introduced, among other things, staff delegates and trade union freedoms).
The council room is located where the private apartments of the Princess of Monaco were. The Duke and Duchess of Galliera had set up a large ceremonial dining room there. For almost a hundred years, this room has been a witness to French political life, hosting some 350 meetings each year!
This is the blue room. Its role is mainly ceremonial, it is used as a place for meetings with foreign delegations during official visits.
The red room was the throne room at the time of the princes of Monaco. The medallions, in marquetry of hard stones, were added in the 19th century by the Duke of Galliera.
The garden, with an area of 2 hectares, is the largest private garden in Paris. A double avenue of lime trees creates a perspective of 100 meters. Since 1978, it has been a tradition for each Prime Minister to plant a tree. An unusual fact: at the bottom of the garden are two dog graves, dating from the time when Matignon was the Austrian-Hungarian embassy.
How to visit the Hôtel de Matignon?
The Hôtel de Matignon only opens its doors to the public once a year, on the occasion of the Heritage Days. It was during this event that I was able to enter and take these photographs.
Usually, the registrations open in the middle of August, on the website https://www.gouvernement.fr/
In the meantime, you can visit Matignon virtually at this address: https://www.gouvernement.fr/matignon-visite-virtuelle/