The Palace of the Kings

Monogram of Louis XIV

In 1528, François Ier had the "grosse tour" destroyed, and decided in 1546 to transform the former fortress into a luxury residence. The work, which was supervised by Pierre Lescot, continued under Henri II and Charles IX, involved two new wings which occupy two sides of the former fortress. Jean Goujon decorated the façade and the great hall of this Renaissance wing.

In the west, in a place known as the Tuileries, Catherine de Médicis had a huge palace built, which she left incomplete. As soon as he arrived in Paris in 1594, Henri IV decided to join the Louvre with the Tuileries to form a gigantic palace. This was the "Grand Dessein" or Grand Design, of which he had the first stage completed, the Grande Galerie.

Under Louis XIII and Louis XIV, the architects Le Mercier and subsequently Le Vau built the "Cour Carrée", four times the size of the former Renaissance courtyard. To the East, facing the city, a committee of architects, led by Perrault, planned the "colonnade". Poussin, Romanelli and Le Brun decorated the apartments and the "galeries". But this golden age enjoyed by the Louvre came to an abrupt end in 1678, when Louis XIV chose Versailles as his centre of power. The double palace remained incomplete for a long time. During the entire XVIIIth century, new projects contributed to the "Grand Dessein" of the Bourbons, which architects Gabriel and Soufflot are attempting to bring to perfection.

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