Normally the residence is off limits to the public however, once a year, for the Journee du Patrimoine when many of the buildings normally closed are open for people to visit, it is open to visit.
But some hints if you are going to visit it next year.
Firstly, assume that the only place you are going to visit on that day is the palace. It seems like everyone in Paris is in line to see the palace. You will have to wait a while to get in, and so it takes up a lot of the day, but is also quite exhausting time standing for such a long time. You might be able to fit in another place - but don't count on it.
Secondly, as alluded to above - be prepared to wait. We arrived at the time the palace opened to the public at 8am. The entrance to the palace is through the front garden on Avenue Gabriel. At 8am the queue was along Avenue Gabriel all the way to Place de la Concorde, along the side of Place de la Concorde and halfway back along the Avenue des Champs Elysee.
The time to get to the front of the queue was about 3 and a half hours. This was to get to the entrance of the l'eysee palace garden. At one point we thought we had a mirage of coffee and croissants. Someone was selling them along one point in the line (about 2.5 hours in). We were sure that they would run out just as we got to them, and each time we got close, they moved further down the line away from us. When we finally reached them and confirmed that they were not a mirage.
At the front of the queue at the entrance to the Elysee gardens we had to go through metal detectors and into the palace grounds. We overheard a policeman at about 9am or 9:30 saying that the queue was then about 5 hours to get to the front of the queue to get into the grounds.
Once you are through the metal detectors and into the gardens, there is another queue to get into the palace itself. It was another hour and a half to get to the front of the queue inside the grounds and into the palace. All up, 5 hours to get in, and that was arriving at 8am. The line was getting longer and longer as we waited. so arriving later would take longer than this. Ironically, if you arrive much earlier, you would need to wait for quite some time until the doors open at 8am. Apparently at 7:30 the line was already as far back as Place de la Concorde, so it is a trade off between how early you want to get up and where you want to wait. To be at the front of the queue (to minimise the time waiting after the doors open) you probably need to get there at sometime with a 6 at the beginning of it - but then you need to wait for 2 hours anyway.
The palace itself is amazing. There are some amazing rooms that you can visit. The highlights for me were the Silver Room, the ultra modern dining room from Francois Miterands' time in office, and the Presidents office. The tour is an amazing insight into an amazing building.
However, be aware, if you want to be able to see it, you need to put in the time to get there. It makes the queue at Versailles look positively minimal. And of course, you will need to wait a year.
|Looking through the fountain at the Concorde end of the gardens|
|The l'elysee palace with the queue in front (3 - 3.5 hours into the wait)|
Entrance is on the far right of the photo - Presidential office is second floor, middle
|Garden beside the palace|
|The Silver Room with its Republican Guard|
lots of white gold in the room
|A piece of art I really liked|
|The Eating Room built in 1972 by Georges Pompidou|
The most modern room in the palace
|The presidential library|
|The formal dining room|
|Close up of the place setting|
|The room where ambassadors to France are received|
|The tapestry in the Salon Pompadour|
|The Presidential desk|
|Another view of the Presidential desk|
|Looking over the Cour d'honneur|