Banque de France

Not easy to get in here… the headquarters of the Banque de France (The Central Bank of France), another institution created by Napoleon - in 1800.

The basic task of the bank is to implement the monetary policy within the framework of the European Central Bank (ESCB), but it has of course also other roles like the issuance and maintenance of banknotes and coins… (Somewhere underground there may be a few thousand tons of gold.)

The central office occupies what 1635-40 was built as a town house (“hotel particulier”) for a French statesman, seigneur de la Vrillière. Later it was occupied by one of Louis XIV’s (illegitimate) sons, Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon and then by the latter’s son, the Duc de Penthièvre. It was confiscated during the revolutionary years and became for a while Imrimerie Nationale (National official printing works). It became the central office for Banque de France in 1808. Printing presses and storage space had of course led to a lot of destruction of the original buildings. Some of the rooms were restored during the 19th century.

Here we can see what it once looked like, where we find it…We can also see the portrait of the architect, François Mansart. 

Originally there was a large garden, not much remains as it has been replaced by new buildings.

Some views from the inner courts.

The original entrance and stairs have disappeared and have been replaced.

As said, only a few rooms have kept – or have got back - their original aspect.

Here are some pictures from an entrance hall and from the room where the Governor of the bank organizes his meetings, which used to be part of the private apartments.

The real treasure of the building is the “Galérie Dorée” (Golden Gallery), which looks more or less like when it stood ready in 1645. Especially the ceiling was restored during the 19th century.

It’s interesting to learn that “Galérie Dorée”, which was created by François Mansart in 1645, a few decades later, in 1678, served as model for the “Galérie des Glaces” (Hall of Mirrors) at Versailles , designed by François Mansart’s nephew, Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The basic idea was to take good care of the natural light by placing mirrors (actually mirror doors) in front of the windows.

There were obviously good reasons for Sofia Coppola to film some of the “Marie-Antoinette” scenes in the “Galérie Dorée”.


Karen said...

Magnifiqué! Beautiful and informative post, Peter. Thank you.

Jilly said...

How fascinating. And wow, that 'golden gallery' is incredible. how fabulous you got in to photograph it, Peter and what lovely photos.

claude said...

Purée, ils sont riches à la banque de France !
Super ton dernier post sur la Sicile.

Studio at the Farm said...

Wonderful photos, Peter! The Galerie Doree really does look so much like the Galerie des Glaces.
Thank you, Peter.

Thérèse said...

Preuve avec les Mansart/Hardouin-Mansart que les dons se tranmettent à travers les générations.
Demain tu nous présentes "la Souterraine?"

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, "WOW!!!!"

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

Glorious shots - thanks for sharing. Is there any way to view just some of those rooms?

PeterParis said...

> Anonymous:
There are some, few, authorised guides, but as I understand, the whole place will be closed for a year or two for complete renovation. This was somehow a last chance for a while. Sorry!

Starman said...


Cergie said...

Que serait la France sans Napoléon et Mansart. Et Paris sans les hôtels particuliers ?
A propos de films, c'est en ce moment hommage à Pasolini qui transforme et ce pour pas longtemps la station de métro "Rome" que tu connais (voir chez moi)

Alain said...

Et ils ne vous on pas montré le stock d'or, enfoui, dit-on, à trente mètres sous terre ?

Catherine said...

That is exceedingly grand!

JoeinVegas said...

That is an impressive hallway