“Lieux et expressions du pouvoir” Coll. No 1 - “Le Versailles des présidents”

Le Versailles des présidents : 150 ans de vie républicaine chez le Roi-Soleil by Fabien Oppermann, joint publication Centre de recherche du château de Versailles / Éditions Fayard (“Lieux et expressions du pouvoir” Collection), March 2015, 308 p., 15 illustrations, 13.5 x 21.5 cm, €19 (ISBN: 9782213681269).


The Palace of Versailles, the symbol of the grandeur of the French monarchy, has, for the last one hundred and fifty years, played a central role in representing the French Republic. From Adolphe Thiers, forced by the Paris Commune to relocate to this royal town, to François Hollande, who retains Versailles’ Pavillon de la Lanterne for presidential use, the most influential figures of life in the French Republic – presidents, ministers, members of parliament and visiting heads of state, have all contributed to the contemporary history of the palace and its domain.

Until 1953, the former royal residence hosted presidential elections in the large Congress Room, and since 1958, the French parliament has met there to revise the Constitution. The most illustrious crowned heads and foreign heads of state are invited to attend concerts at the Royal Opera, to dine in the Hall of Mirrors, and to stay in the sumptuous apartments of the Grand Trianon. De Gaulle received the Kennedys here in 1961, and Mitterrand chose the Palace for the G7 summit in 1982. But Versailles is also a privileged retreat for politicians: Giscard d’Estaing celebrating his fiftieth birthday there with his family, and Nicolas Sarkozy enjoying the comforts of La Lanterne spring to mind.

Two centuries after the fall of the monarchy, the Palace of Versailles is still the theatre of power, of the Republic and all its secrets.

Fabien Oppermann, the archivist-paleographer, a graduate of the École Pratique des Hautes Études and of the Institut National du Patrimoine, is Chief Curator at the French Ministry of Education. In 2004, he defended his thesis, Images and Customs of the Palace of Versailles in the 20th Century (“Images et usages du château de Versailles au XXe siècle”) at the École Nationale des Chartes (Paris).

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