Charles Lemaresquier, Head Architect of National Palaces and member of the Institute of Advanced Studies in National Defense is the creator of this fine establishment of the place Saint-Augustin. The sculptures atop the building’s columns are the works of sculptors who are also members of the Institute :
Jean-Antoine Injalbert’s “Turco”, François-Léon Sicard’s “Poilu”, Jean Boucher’s “Marin” and Paul Landowsky”s “Cuirassier”. This beautiful building counts an 84-room hotel, restaurants, an air-conditioned bar, a prestigious bistrot, a fitness room, a library, reception rooms which can accommodate up to 1,000 persons for cocktail parties and seat 500 persons for dinners, a conference room seating 250 and a renowned fencing room. Ideally situated in the heart of Paris, the Cercle National des Armées receives serving, retired or reserve officers, category “A” civil servants or equivalent of the Ministry of Defense, as well as holders of the French Legion of Honor, auditors and former auditors of the Institute of Advanced Studies in National Defense (I.H.E.D.N.) or of the Centre des Hautes Etudes de l’Armement (C.H.E.Ar) including their families and guests.
The Cercle National des Armées was founded by presidential decree on February 5, 1887 and by the law of April 16, 1924 authorizing its construction on the former grounds of the Pépinière barracks.
Construction works took place from 1925 to 1927 on grounds made available thanks to the destruction of part of the Pépinière barracks, notably its façade. It was inaugurated in 1928 by the President of the French Republic at the time Gaston Doumergue.
The Cercle National des Armées de Terre et de Mer was thus relocated from avenue de l’Opéra to place Saint-Augustin.
The building of neo-classic inspiration is the work of Charles Henri-Camille Lemaresquier. The Head Architect of National Palaces was born on October 16, 1870 in Sète (southern France), and died on January 6, 1972 in Paris (he is buried at the Marines’ cemetery in his home town).
He was the son of Louis Lemaresquier, famous poster designer of the 19th century and father of Noël Lemaresquier. The latter, also an architect, became his father’s assistant before succeeding him at the head of the workshop of the Paris Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts. He then joined Charles at the Académie des Beaux-arts of the Institut de France. Charles Lemaresquier was also Michel Debré’s father-in-law and maternal grandfather of Jean-Louis and Bernard Debré.
Charles was first a student, then friend and finally successor of Victor Laloux, first Grand prix de Rome winner, at the Paris Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts. His works remain rare:
– Félix Potin central headquarters(1910), 51 rue Réaumur, Paris;
– The Hotel and the printing house the Journaux officiels, rue Saint-Saëns, Paris;
– Palais Berlitz, Paris, office building built on a quadrilateral formed by the boulevard des Capucines, the rue Louis le Grand, the rue de la Michodière and the rue de Hanovre;
– Havas Agency building, Paris;
– Toulouse Veterinary School;
– Saint Anne’s hospital, Paris
– Navy Mechanics School, Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer (southeastern France);
– Maritime gendarmerie, Toulon (southern France).
Military symbols can be found in the carved ornaments. Remarkable statues atop the façade’s columns are the works of the institute’s sculptors: Jean-Antoine Injalbert’s “Turco”, François-Léon Sicard’s “Poilu”, Jean Boucher’s “Marin” and Paul Landowsky”s “Cuirassier”. War symbols (helmets, picks, flags) can be admired on either side of the 2nd floor window, on the side of the 35 rue Laborde façade. A horse-pulled cart can be seen above the 3rd floor window.