Assemblée Nationale – Palais Bourbon

Assemblée Nationale – © David H. Enzel, 2023
Assemblée Nationale – © David H. Enzel, 2023
Assemblée Nationale – © David H. Enzel, 2023

The National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale) is the lower house of the bicameral French Parliament under the Fifth Republic, the upper house being the Senate (Sénat). The National Assembly’s legislators are known as députés.

There are 577 députés, each elected by a single-member constituency (at least one per department) through a two-round system; thus, 289 seats are required for a majority. The president of the National Assembly presides over the body. The officeholder is usually a member of the largest party represented, assisted by vice presidents from across the represented political spectrum. The National Assembly’s term is five years; however, the President of France may dissolve the Assembly, thereby calling for new elections, unless it has been dissolved in the preceding twelve months. Following a tradition started by the first National Assembly during the French Revolution, the left-wing parties sit to the left as seen from the president’s seat and the right-wing parties to the right; the seating arrangement thus directly indicates the left–right political spectrum as represented in the Assembly.

The Palais Bourbon (shown here) is the official seat of the Assemblée Nationale. It is prominently located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, on the Rive Gauche of the Seine, across from the Place de la Concorde. Since 1799, the Palais Bourbon has served as the home of all the lower houses of the French parliament. The Assembly also uses other neighboring buildings, including the Immeuble Chaban-Delmas on the Rue de l’Université, Paris. Like most institutions of importance in Paris, it is guarded by Republican Guards.

The original palace was built beginning in 1722 for Louise Françoise de Bourbon, Duchess of Bourbon, the legitimized daughter of Louis XIV and the Marquise de Montespan. Four successive architects – Lorenzo Giardini, Pierre Cailleteau, Jean Aubert and Jacques Gabriel – completed the palace in 1728. It was then nationalized during the French Revolution. From 1795 to 1799, during the period known as the Directory, it was the meeting place of the Council of Five Hundred, which served as the lower house of the legislature of France and chose the five Directors, who jointly held executive power. 

Beginning in 1806, during Napoleon’s French Empire, Bernard Poyet’s Neoclassical facade was added to mirror that of the Church of the Madeleine, facing it across the Seine beyond the Place de la Concorde.

The palace complex today has a floor area of 124,000 m2 (1,330,000 sq ft), with over 9,500 rooms, in which 3,000 people work. The complex includes the Hôtel de Lassay, on the west side of the Palais Bourbon; it is the official residence of the President of the National Assembly.


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