Hotel Matignon - the Official French Prime Ministers Residence in Paris
The Hotel Matignon was first constructed in the 1700s and after changing hands several times, it eventually became the official residence for the Prime Minster of France and is classified as having the largest private garden in Paris.
A bit of history
The Hotel Matignon was originally constructed between the years 1722 and 1725 by Jean Courtonne and Jean Mazin as a sumptuous mansion house that could very easily be classified as a palace.
The Hotel Matignon was a place for sumptuous receptions and high society gatherings for many decades, yet it also changed hands many times and at the start of the 1800s it was owned by Monsieur de Talleyrand, Prince of Benevent, but he was forced to sell the mansion, which was then purchased by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Although it was meant to be a residence for important political figures, many like Napoleon III preferred the Elysees Palace, and the Hotel Matignon was sold again, but this time to Rafael de Ferrari and Marie Brignole-Sale, Duchesse de Galliera, who were reported to be one of the wealthiest couples in France.
One of the most sumptuous receptions of the century was held at the Hotel Matignon in 1886, which included over 3000 guests, yet the French council and in particular the president, Charles de Freycinet, were alarmed at the amount of people and Monarchists who attended, and brought in a new law, which the Duchesse de Galliera did not agree with.
So she bequeathed the mansion house to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, and bequeathed her impressive collection of art and furniture to Italy, even though the Palais Galliera that was originally designed for the collection, was automatically to become property of the city of Paris to become a museum.
Yet the Hotel Matignon was declared an enemy property in World War I and became state property once again, with talks that it would also be made into a museum, however, it became the residence of the President of the Council, which today is known as a Prime Minister.
About the Hotel Matignon Today
The Hotel Matignon is still known as the official residence in Paris of the Prime Minister, where receptions and official meetings are still held to this day, and it also has the largest private park in the city, yet the sumptuous mansion house has also been classified as one of the historical monuments in Paris.
Until recently, the beautiful private garden in Paris belonging to the Hotel Matignon palace was only open on National Heritage Days, which are known in French as Journees du Patrimoine, however, as of 2013, the garden is now open to the public once a month.
You will find that one of the traditions has been that every time the palace sees a new Prime Minister, a tree is planted by them, and this tradition was started by Raymond Barre, which has continued to this day, with the exception of Jacques Chirac who did not take part.
In this now official event, the Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, chose a Clack Pepin Apple Tree in 2018, whereas Jean-Marc Ayrault chose a Magnolia Grandiflora in 2012, Edith Cresson chose a Ginkgo Biloba in 1992 and Laurent Fabius chose an Austrian Oak in 1984, just to give a few examples.
But there are numerous other features to discover within the Matignon Garden that was originally designed by the nephew of Andre Le Notre, and redesigned by the landscape architect Achille Duchene in 1902 and one of the surprises are two tombstones that are covered in ivy and mark the place where a dog and cat are buried when the mansion house was home to the Austro-Hungarian Embassy.
There are numerous different historical trees including a Purple Beech that is over 150 years old with a circumfrance of over 3.5 metres and a height exceeding 21 metres, plus there is the Ally of Linden trees that provides a perspective towards a statue of Pomona.
However, as a final curiosity on a tour of the garden you can discover the Glaciere, which is actually an ice storage cave hidden beneath a mound of earth where layers of ice and straw are stored during the winter months to be utilised in summer.
Access to the Hotel Matignon
Even though the mansion is the official residence of the Prime Minister and not accessible to the public, the garden itself can now be visited by the public on the first Saturday of each month.
You will find this beautiful landscaped garden with its immaculate lawns and a wide variety of different and impressive trees open from 1pm through to approximately 5.30pm on this first Saturday of each month, but at all other times the Matignon Garden is closed to the public.
The garden of the Hotel Matignon is now recognised as one of the great historical tourist attractions in Paris and is located in the 7th Arrondissement close to other attractions in the city like the Musee Maillol and the Musee Rodin museum.
Due to the Vigipirate implementations to avoid terrorist attacks, no luggage can be taken into the garden, which is accessed via a discreet blue door on the Rue de Babylone, and in high security situations searches are implemented, or only pre-organised tours are permitted.
So do bear these points in mind, yet if you are lucky enough to be able to visit the garden of the Hotel Matignon, you will find that the nearest Metro stations are the Sevres - Babylone stop serving lines 10 and 12, the Rue du Bac stop via line 12, the St Francois Xavier stop via line 13 or the Vaneau stop that serves line 10.
Alternatively, the Bus lines 39, 68, 70, 82, 83, 87, 92 and 94 will also all get you within easy walking distance of the historical mansion and its impressive garden that is a mix between the traditional French style and an English style, not forgetting the numerous other tourist attractions around this area of Paris like the Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Medialle Miraculeuse.