THIS WEEKEND the British Embassy in Paris is opening up the ambassador’s residence – a palatial 18th century townhouse which has been British-owned for 200 years next month.
Bought from Napoleon’s sister Pauline in 1814, the Residence was the first permanent British embassy in Paris, and was the whole of the embassy premises until 1957 when buildings next door were bought.
Now it is the home of the ambassador, Sir Peter Ricketts, and his wife Lady Suzanne and also welcomes a succession of high-profile guests and hosts events to promote friendship between the UK and France.
In fact, as we will be discussing in an interview with Sir Peter in October’s edition, the couple live in only a small part of the building, not in the most stately parts which are used for entertaining – much of which will be open to visit on Saturday, from 10.00 to 16.30 for the Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days).
The gardens and ground floor will be open, for a chance to see, for example, Pauline’s original canopied bed or the magnificent dining table which seats 58 for official dinners.
The Residence – officially called the Hôtel de Charost (from its original owner’s name) – is at 39 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré (Metro stations Concorde or Madeleine).
For more about the Journées du Patrimoine, and to find out what sites are open for visits in your area, see Journées du Patrimoine.
Scroll down on the homepage to put in your region and/or department and, if you want, narrow the choices down further by types of activity, whether the location is open “exceptionally” (ie. it is not usually possible to visit it) etc.