The Galliffet hotel : a mansion to visit (Heritage Days)

Checkered floor tiles, ten-meter high ionic columns, neoclassical architecture…Welcome to a 18th-century mansion in the heart of Faubourg Saint-Germain (Paris 7th).

This rich-in-mansions district is the residence of ambassies and ministries. It is actually the district where the Matignon mansion is located, house of the Prime Minister. The Galliffet mansion, situated between rue de Grenelle, rue de Varenne and rue du Bac, welcomes the Instituto Italiano di Cultura of Paris since 1962. It will be opened for free guided visits at the occasion of Heritage Days, September the 16th 2012 (10.30 am-18 pm).

Culture and cooking

In order to promote relations between Italy and France, the institute organises exhibitions and projections in that matter. It welcomes among other a language school and the most documented Italian library in Paris. To get there, you go down in the old kitchens, built in 1833. While going out, you can enjoy the private garden, very calm for a parisian garden.

On the novelty side, it comes up with the creation of Italian cooking classes with chiefs from different regional traditions for the end of the year 2012.

A familial heritage

The Galliffet come from a very ancient noble family, native from Dauphiné. Marquis Louis François de Galliffet discharges the building of Denis Talon, an important former parliamentarian, in 1766.

Between 1784 and 1790, begins the construction of the current Galliffet hotel by the architect Etienne-François Le Grand and sculptor Jean-Baptiste Boiston. Marquis Simon-Alexandre de Galliffet, King advisor, made in 1783 a passable triumphal-arched shaped passage, located rue du Bac, and that became the main entrance.

In 1821, the heirs succeed in regaining possession of the hotel seized as an emigrant good in 1792. It is then divided in apartments and partly rented, among other to infante of Spain and to the nuncio of the pope. Finally, until 1938, the Galliffet hotel is the headquarter of the Italian embassy.

The hotel was the residency of state man and French diplomat Talleyrand for 10 years. At the end of 1797, it is in the living room of the hotel that he meets for the first time Bonaparte. Back then, the Galliffet hotel becomes a thoroughfare for the European gotha.

The garden of the mansion is actually the scene of gorgeous parties. For instance, one owes to Talleyrand the miniature reconstruction of Piazza del Palazzo Vecchio of Firenze, in the honnor of the Great dukes of Toscane.

A monumental facade

The majesty of the hotel Galliffet expresses itself thank to its eight ionic ten-meter high columns and its two doric columns. The windows surmounting them are decorated with triangular pediments. Wreaths of oak and laurel, symbols of strengh and glory, decorate the main and frames the figure of the Marquis de Galliffet.

The big reception hall is composed with two rooms decorated with mirors, one with ionic ordianance, the other one with corinthian. The columns are decorated trompe l’oeil style. The dining room evokes the atrium of a Roman mansion. The mirrors abrogates walls and doors ; the sky is painted on the ceiling.

The living-room is logically dedicated to Roman mythology. Above the courtyard side doors, one can see Diane embracing the sheperd Endymion. Garden sides, it is this time Appollon who rides his tank and appears on the bath with a lyre in his hands. All around, trompe l’oeil style arcades are art allegories: painting and engraving, poetry and writing, architecture and geometry, sculture and drawing.

Nathalia Bienvenu-Kapferer and Julia Champagnac, August 2012
Translation : Gautier Delavaud
Photos credit : Florence Jacq and Instituto Italiano di Cultura
Instituto Italiano di Cultura : 73, rue de Grenelle, Paris 7th district (

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The Galliffet hotel : a mansion to visit (Heritage Days) The Galliffet hotel : a mansion to visit (Heritage Days) The Galliffet hotel : a mansion to visit (Heritage Days) The Galliffet hotel : a mansion to visit (Heritage Days) The Galliffet hotel : a mansion to visit (Heritage Days) The Galliffet hotel : a mansion to visit (Heritage Days)