Since 1873, Élysée Palace has been the official residence of the President of the French Republic. It is also where the Council of Ministers meets. The majestic, classical building was erected in the 18th century by architect Armand-Claude Mollet for Louis Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne, Count of Évreux.
Following Évreux’s death in 1753, the palace was bought by King Louis XV as a residence for the Marquise de Pompadour, his mistress. It was renamed Élysée Palace by Bathilde d’Orléans, Duchess of Bourbon, who bought it in 1787, only to lose it temporarily in the turmoil of the revolution. After it was returned to her, she sold it to Louis XVIII. Under the provisional government of the Second Republic, it took the name of the Élysée National and was designated the official residence of the President of the Republic.
In 1917, an orangutan escaped from a nearby menagerie, entered the palace and was said to have tried to haul the wife of President Raymond Poincaré into a tree only to be foiled by Élysée guards. President Paul Deschanel, who resigned in 1920 because of mental illness, was said to have been so impressed by the orangutan’s feat that, to the alarm of his guests, he took to jumping into trees during state receptions.