The Splendour of the Second EmpireThe Napoleon III Apartments

Napoleon III Apartments: the Grand Salon Room 544, Richelieu Wing, Left 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.

Napoleon III Apartments: the salon-theatre, view of the portrait of Empress Eugénie Room 545, Richelieu wing, Level 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!

Napoleon III Apartments: the musicians' platform Room 544, Richelieu wing, Level 1

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Curious armchairs

Three-seater armchair Room 545, Richelieu wing, Level 1

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