How about a government building in Versailles !

This is unusual but as said government building can be nice and full of history as to its previous occupants This is the case of the préfecture or local government building in my dear Versailles, capital of the Yvelines dept 78 in the Île de France region.  The city as often I mentioned is a lot more than a castle/palance/museum! There is so much history here, lots of things to see. Today will tell you for the first time about an interesting building.

Let me tell you a bit on the Préfecture des Yvelines in Versailles. This is the regional government building and it has many functions one of them is issuing the initial carte de séjour resident card to my parents on the adminstrative side. I will tell you about the historical part that is only open on heritage days or journées du patrimoine. Next will be September 16-17, 2023 !

versailles-prefecture-ave-de-l-europe-dec16

A bit of history I like: From 1800, the first Prefect of Seine-et-Oise (now Yvelines dept 78) occupied in Versailles the old building of the furniture repository of the Crown, built between 1780 and 1796, and located at 11 rue des reservoirs (nearer the palace/museum). During the summer of 1859, the general council of Seine-et-Oise adopted the principle that a new prefecture would be built, the buildings having become too small for the administrative needs of the time. The general council of Seine-et-Oise buys, on March 26, 1861, the old Chenil du Roi,(the Royal hunting dogs kennel)  built in 1685 behind the Grandes écuries (big stables) , The proposal was selected, among 38 other candidates, and in September 1863, the work began. The installation will take place at the end of 1866, and the inauguration on June 19, 1867 at the current site today by the Avenue de Paris, and ave de l’Europe.  During the Franco-Prussian conflict, from September 20, 1870, the Prince Royal of Prussia, Frédéric-Guillaume, then from October 5, the King of Prussia, Guillaume Ier, occupied the Prefecture until March 6, 1871. The offices on the ground floor of the Prefecture were chosen to serve as a post for the battalion guarding the Prince. Thus, at the top of the Prefecture, the Prussian flag flew in place of the tricolor flag. During this period, the Potager du roi supplied the King of Prussia with fruit and vegetables.  Adolphe Thiers, (third Republic) Head of the executive power, also had his choice of residence on this building. He settled on March 18, 1871 and occupied the entire left wing of the building with his wife and sister-in-law Félicie Dosne. His successors, Marshal Patrice de Mac-Mahon( Count of Mac Mahon and Duke of Magenta), then Jules Grévy,(both Third Republic) did the same. In this way, the current Préfecture of Yvelines was the seat of the French Government for eight years (from March 18, 1871 to January 30, 1879). In 1880, the building again became Préfecture of Yvelines dept 78.

A bit of description on the construction : After the main gate visible from the avenue de Paris, and at the end of the main courtyard, you reach the main body of the préfecture. Two wings in reverse square which determine the main courtyard. Beyond the main building, we can see the design of an English garden. The building also fits into the grand French style breathed since the early 1850s by architects of public administration, like the National Library and the Sorbonne. As for, paintings, furniture. art bronzers suppliers of furniture for the Crown, ministries and the Seine prefecture. The latter will equip almost all reception rooms with chandeliers, most of which are still in place. The main body of the Préfecture des Yvelines, both on the ground floor and upstairs, is reserved for representation functions. The facade is designed accordingly, with a balcony carried by consoles and adorned with neo-18C ironwork, two busts of Ceres and Mercury, allegories of agriculture and commerce and a sculpted tympanum representing, on both sides of an escutcheon carrying the imperial “N”,(for Napoléon Ier) the figures of the Seine and the Oise joining their waters cross the hall, then the waiting room, one can discover the facade on the garden side . The sculpted iconography of the central body adapts to the landscaped environment of this facade with the busts of Vertumne and Pomone and the representation in the triangular eardrum of the triumph of Flora and Céres.

The inside description only seen in heritage days or journées du patrimoine, and no photos allowed. The Prefect’s hearing office. A recent painting, dated 1991, represents the basin of Neptune in the park of the Palace of Versailles, while the four allegories of Arts, Sciences, Commerce and Agriculture decorate the tops of the door. The beautiful double-sided desk, Louis XV period, was used by Mac-Mahon, during his stay in Versailles. On the mantelpiece, the pendulum symbolizing “Study and Philosophy”, from the Louis XVI period. Waiting room or Erignac room. Located in the center of the building, its decor illustrates two of the decorative art trends of the time, neo-classicism and a return to the past. The ceiling, divided into three panels decorated with stylized plant ornaments and acanthus scrolls, interprets the arts of Louis XIV’s past. Since 1998, this salon has been renamed “Salon Erignac” in tribute to the Prefect Claude Erignac, assassinated in the exercise of his functions, on February 6, 1998. The Small lounge, currently secretarial room. This room served as a billiard room as evidenced by the chandelier with two suspensions. On the ceiling, in a sky framed by a stone balustrade, four loves support garlands which meet at the ring of the chandelier. The over-doors represent the four seasons on canvas. Salon Thiers, currently meeting room. This living room retains its original decor: background with leafy sky, cornices painted with still lifes. The first two show flowers, game and fruit in veneer associated with fabrics. Ribaillier-Mazaroz furniture was designed for this room. The two-part glazed sideboard with sculpted still lifes at the bottom, with motifs of fruit and game, mixes Renaissance and Louis XIII styles. The Escalier d’Honneur or staircase of honor. The upper floor is accessible by a large staircase made up of a first central straight flight and a second double flight. Its walls are clad in colored stucco-marble. Upstairs, there is a decoration with iconic pilasters and two imposing canvases, “La Seine à Suresnes” (1867), by Émile Lambinet,(see post on musée Lambinet de Versailles); and a “Vue de Capri” by Félix Lanoüe. The wrought iron railing is inspired by the Louis XIV style. Note the figure of the old Seine-et-Oise formed by two intertwined Ss and an O. The General Council room, currently deliberation room of the departmental council. The general council room has a ceiling in the sky surrounded by a flowery balustrade, a cornice enlivened by musical loves, fire pots and birds, in relief. The monumental fireplace was originally decorated with a bust of Napoleon I replaced by a bust of Marianne and a pendulum of Chaumont-Marquis, still in place. Opposite, a painting by Guillaume Dubufe , “Allegory of the Seine and the Oise”, replaces the portrait of Napoleon III. The Grand salon called Salon des Aigles (Eagles’ room). The Salon des Aigles occupies the entire first floor of the front part of the central pavilion and is opened by six windows. Pilasters and columns with Corinthian capitals, in stucco-marble whose original color is no longer visible, enliven the whole. A chimney in purple breach evokes the living room of Hercules of the Palace of Versailles. On the ceiling, the Four Hours of the Day by Ernest Augustin Gendron are symbolized by four young life-size women flying in the sky. The Morning pours the contents of an urn, the South spreads flowers, the Evening holds an hourglass, the Night is stretched out on a cloud.  The highly decorated cornice is highlighted at the angles of four golden eagles with outstretched wings posed on a geometric decoration. In the center of the arches, the four Seasons are represented. They are personified by life-size women seated and wearing their attributes, from right to left: Winter, with green drapery, Spring, with pink drapery, Summer, with blue drapery and Autumn, with the red drapery. The Louis XV style furniture is due to Ribaillier-Mazaroz. As for the large cartel pendulum with two female heads and the gilt chased bronze cartridge dial, it was delivered in 1867 by the Maison Chaumont-Marquis. The Empress Salon. It takes its name from the portrait of Empress Eugénie,(wife of Napoleon III), which was there. On the ceiling is painted a sky framed by a balustrade, on which are sitting eight loves playing with birds. The cornice is marked on the corners with the crowned imperial emblem “N”. Two allegories, “Poetry and Music”, are represented in the overcoats. The fireplace trim a large white marble scroll pendulum console with chiselled gold ornaments and two white marble egg vases with bouquets of lilies with ten candles. On the ground, the “Le Jour” carpet comes from the national furniture collection and was produced by the Manufacture national de la Savonnerie in 2001. The Large dining room. It is covered with stucco-marble paneling imitating certain decorations of the Palace of Versailles. The cornice, adorned with three cardboard-stone friezes, highlights the ceiling painted by Dominique-Henri Guifard (1838-1913), representing a sky background framed by a gallery with balusters, in the middle of which branches of foliage and flowers run. On the fireplace, a pendulum from the First Empire period on its base Orpheus in Hell: recognizable by his lyre, he arrives in front of Hades seated on a throne, at the back, stands veiled Eurydice led by a little love who wears a quiver.

The Yvelines dept 78 on the building : https://www.yvelines.fr/publication/brochure-hotel-du-departement-de-la-prefecture/

The Préfecture des Yvelines government building on the foreign services/immigrants : https://www.yvelines.gouv.fr/Demarches-administratives/Accueil-a-la-Prefecture-des-Yvelines

For info as I have a picture but hope none need to come here is the Tribunal Judiciaire de Versailles (palais de justice building) at 5, place André-Mignot. This is the judicial courthouse!  A bit of history I like; from the outset, it was occupied by the former stables of the Queen. These were first those of King Louis XIV who acquired the land in 1672. He had built a body of buildings intended to accommodate the squires. , pages, saddle horses and carriages. But, from 1682, Louis XIV had other stables built opposite the château, which were larger and more comfortable. He then donated his old stables to his wife Marie-Thérèse of Austria. The stables accommodated the crews of Queen Marie Leszczynska, then those of the Dauphine of France, Marie-Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria . During the French revolution, the premises were transformed into a remand center. At the Restoration, the royal guard settled there. Then various regiments took up residence there. The army did not separate from the building until 1968 for the benefit of the Ministry of Justice, which installed certain departments of the High Court and the Regional Computer Production Center there. The Court of Appeal will gradually take their place.versailles-palais-de-la-prefecture-back-rue-jean-a-houdon-jul06
There you go folks another dandy historical , architecturally stunning monument in my dear Versailles. Hope you enjoy this post on the off the beaten path government buildings of Yvelines, and a very popular Versailles.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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