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In line with measures taken by the French government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Musée du Louvre and Musée National Eugène Delacroix will remain closed up until and including May 18.

The Splendour of the Second EmpireThe Napoleon III Apartments

Appartements Napoléon-III : le grand salon Salle 544, Aile Richelieu, Niveau 1

The Louvre was a palace before it became a museum. Kings, emperors, ministers and courtiers wandered its maze of hallways long before the first museum visitors arrived. And the palace’s dazzling past is best reflected in the Napoleon III Apartments.

An almost intact historical setting

To walk through the Napoleon III Apartments is to travel back in time! Imagine the impression these apartments must have made in 1861, when Napoleon III’s Minister of State discovered the new residence reserved for him on the first floor of the brand new Richelieu wing, overlooking the Cour Napoléon.

Appartements Napoléon-III : le salon théâtre, vue du portrait de l'impératrice Eugénie Salle 545, Aile Richelieu, Niveau 1

The minister’s apartment

The Minister of State and his family occupied modestly-sized private rooms resembling those of a wealthy bourgeois home, furnished without extravagance. These first rooms lead into the large state apartments, where the atmosphere changes completely! The drawing and dining rooms are a riot of gold, velvet, paintings and stucco decorations – a sumptuous setting for all kinds of receptions. From prestigious dinners to masked balls, the high society of the Second Empire cultivated the art of conviviality, and the imperial couple could often be spotted among the minister’s guests.

From palace to museum

Today’s visitors can still enjoy the splendour of this setting that has survived almost intact for nearly 150 years. After housing the Minister of State during the Second Empire (1852–1870), the apartments became home to the Ministry of Finance, which occupied them until 1989 when the whole Louvre palace finally became a museum. The apartments have been open to the public since 1993.

The Napoleon III Apartments

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Surprise, surprise!

Appartements Napoléon-III : loge des musiciens Salle 544, Aile Richelieu, Niveau 1

Did you know?

Curious armchairs

Confident à trois places Salle 545, Aile Richelieu, Niveau 1

More to explore

The Art of Living at the French Court

Furniture and art objects from the 18th century

Sun, Gold and Diamonds

The Galerie d’Apollon