Visiting Napoleon III Apartments at the Louvre

There’s nothing better than stepping into a time capsule to try and take a peek at the past. For those visiting the Louvre, one of the highlights of the building is the apartments of Napoleon III and his wife Eugênia de Montijo, which are so well preserved, giving us an idea of what the French Emperor’s accommodation must have been like.

Napoleon III called himself Napoleon’s nephew (THAT Napoleon) but apparently, they were not actually related. When Napoleon (the uncle) was overthrown from power, the monarchy was restored, with Louis XVIII, Louis XVI’s brother, killed during the French Revolution. In 1848, the monarchy fell again and new elections were held, where Napoleon III won as the first president elected by direct vote in France in the so-called Second Republic.

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But in 1851, Napoleon III followed in his uncle’s footsteps, staged a coup d’état, and proclaimed himself Emperor of France, remaining in power until 1870.

During the period he ruled the country, he lived here with Empress Eugénia, where he received heads of state from all over the world who were amazed by the rooms of the royal apartments, and no wonder. Today the rooms impress us just as much!

His wife, in turn, was very influential in Art, patron of artists such as Franz Xaver Winterhalter, who even painted some of his best-known portraits, including the one we see here in the apartments of Napoleon III. She was also very influential in fashion at the time, creating trends and supporting artisans, she was greatly admired for her delicate beauty at the time, including by Queen Victoria of England and her husband. Several records from the British monarch’s diary highlight the beauty of Impetraiz Eugénia.

Entrance to Napoleon III’s apartments

Napoleon III’s apartments are richly decorated, still boasting the original furniture and some works of art, which gives us a good idea of the life that the Emperor and Empress of France had at the time. Its walls and ceilings are mostly painted with engravings of different themes, some with gold relief. Lots of red velvet in the parades, upholstery, and curtains, and large crystal chandeliers help to add charm and luxury to the spaces.

The rooms open to the public are the royal apartments, some halls, a dining room, and an anteroom. All are very well decorated, always following the same luxurious standard.

As soon as you enter the living room, it’s hard to hold back the “wow”, there are so many details, and the lighting in the room, despite being dark, helps to give it charm and an air of mystery about the Emperor’s life. The golden painting on the wall, with the lighting from the chandeliers and the engravings on the ceiling of the room, make you lose yourself in the details. In the center of the room, is a portrait of Eugenie, the last Empress of France.

On the other side of the room, directly in front of Eugénia’s portrait, is the portrait of her husband: Napoleon III. I don’t know what they were like in life, but nowadays I can say that the wife receives much more attention than the husband, at least in the Louvre.

portrait of Empress Eugenie, the last Empress of France

The so-called Drawing Room, a formal space for receiving visitors and holding meetings, could also be converted into a theater, accommodating up to 250 guests! Many of the performances include music so there is a special platform for musicians to perform. The curtains are also very thick and heavy-looking, helping with the acoustics of the room.

Details of the curtains and high relief on the walls of the Drawing Room

The dining room has a long table, for up to 40 people, and the decorated ceiling, with the same crystal chandeliers hanging down, really impressed me.

It’s a quick visit, but it’s worth it, I was impressed by the luxury of the place and the state of preservation of the items there. We truly step where great people in history have already stepped, and just thinking about it during the visit gives us the feeling that we are truly returning to the past.

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