Poised overlooking the Seine, the Palais Bourbon dates to 1722. Originally built for the Duchesse de Bourbon (a daughter of King Louis XIV), the Palais Bourbon has been used to house legislative bodies, including the French National Assembly—the lower house of the French Parliament—since the end of the 18th century.
Designed by a series of celebrated architects (including Giardini, Aubert, and Gabriel) and inspired by Versailles’ Grand Trianon, the Palais Bourbon was initially created as an opulent royal residence. Seized during the French Revolution and declared a “palace of the people” in 1781, it has hosted French legislative bodies, from the Council of 500 to the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale), for centuries. In 1806, the building’s recognizable, classical colonnade was added under Napoleon’s orders, while celebrated painter Eugène Delacroix contributed murals to several rooms.
Today, the French National Assembly features on historical Paris tours and can also be viewed from the water’s edge during Seine river cruises.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The French National Assembly is host to various contemporary art installations, including the Sphere of Human Rights by sculptor Walter de Maria.
- While its colonnade is the Palais Bourbon’s most recognizable feature, its elegant Court of Honor (Cour d’Honneur) is its main entrance and features numerous sculptures.
- In addition to its main government rooms, the French National Assembly boasts a number of highly decorative salons, as well as an ornate library.
How to Get There
Located as it is in central Paris, the French National Assembly can be reached via multiple forms of transit. Take Metro line 12 to Assemblée Nationale station, take the RER C to Invalides, or use bus line 24, 63, 73, 83, 84, 93, or 94. The landmark can also be reached on foot, by car, or by Vélib’ bike.
When to Get There
The Palais Bourbon is open Monday–Saturday. It is, however, currently closed to individual visitors. Groups wishing to visit must be invited by a National Assembly delegate. Given its proximity to other major landmarks, including Invalides, the Place de la Concorde, and the Tuileries Garden, it is still worth stopping by to admire its opulent exterior.
The Hôtel de Lassay
Though it is less well known than the neighboring Palais Bourbon, the Hôtel de Lassay—part of the same palace complex and designed contemporaneously—is another landmark worth discovering. Home to the President of the National Assembly, the building was initially built for the Marquis de Lassay: the Duchesse de Bourbon’s lover.