It’s become a synonym for Parisian luxury, and it is located between the Tuileries Gardens and the Opéra Garnier. From its birth it has had an air of grandeur. It is a can’t-miss stop for all tourists, here we will share four things you should know about the Place Vendôme in Paris.
1.It had a tumultuous past
This mythical and harmonious square was commissioned by Louis XIV and gets its name from the landowner at the time, César de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, a natural son of Henry IV. Initially it was a rectangular plaza, with a statue of the monarch on a horse in its center. The square became what it is today as different buildings were erected around; high-end buildings where rich noblemen lived.
During the Revolution, the statue of Louis XIV was torn down. 20 years later Napoleon had a column built of 44 meters (144 feet), made with the molten lead from the canyons taken at enemy lines at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1871, during the Paris Commune, the column was torn down by the initiative of the painter Gustave Coubert (who decided to exile himself to avoid repaying for the column). Today we can see a replica of the last version of the column.
2.It carries an iconic bejeweled history
This square has a strong tradition of jewelry making dating back to 1700. Back then Chaumet was already settled here and creating jewels for the courts of Europe (he was the official jeweler for Empress Joséphine.) Later came Boucheron in 1858 and after that Van Cleef & Arples, Mauboussin, Mikimoto with its pearls, and the Italian Bulgari. Jewelry stores can also be found along the iconic Rue de la Paix, where you can find the famous Cartier Boutique, and across the plaza, on Rue Saint-Honoré, where you can also find Buccellati
3.It houses a deluxe hotel, which further recognized it as a Luxury location
It is considered one of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in the world, the Hotel Ritz was created by the Swiss hotelier César Ritz, who wanted to create a hotel with all the magnificence fit for a Prince (quite the ambition!) This building cemented the vocation of this iconic plaza.
It opened its doors in 1898, and it quickly became a hotel for famous writers, politicians, artists, intellectuals, designers, tycoons, and different personalities.
Marcel Proust observed Parisian society from this hotel and wrote most of his work from there. Coco Chanel lived there until her death. Ernest Hemingway made it his general headquarters during his stays in Paris; one of the bars was even named after him.
The Ritz was one of the last stops of Lady Di and her boyfriend Dodi-Al Fayed (whose father owned the hotel) before dying in Pont de l’Alma, on August 30th 1997.
4.It hides some interesting facts
- Frédéric Chopin lived and died in this plaza, where you can currently find Chaument (number 12 in the plaza). Sometimes, a few privileged clients of the jeweler get the pleasure of being invited to a private concert at Master Chopin´s old house.
- It is said that Coco Chanel was inspired by the shape of this plaza to design her famous Première watch. if you don´t know it yet, here it is.
- This square is also famous for its sober but very photogenic Chirstmas lights.
- Some of the storefronts of these famous jewelry houses are used in publicity and advertising, in elaborate set ups, such as the giant sun that adorned the Louis Vuitton Boutique almost two years ago, which was a reference to the Sun King (le Roi Soleil). An impeccable work by L’Atelier Anthem.
- The square has 158 arches, and in each one of them there is a distinctly different mask. they were all made by the same sculptor (the details really make a difference.)
- The Place Vendôme has appeared in countless fashion catalogues. it often serves as a background for fashion photo shoots. It has appeared in movies, music videos and thousands of pictures with celebrity sightings.
This square is one of our favorite places, it is an open space, harmonious and with luxury items all around. Make sure to walk around the storefronts and arches, remember, window shopping is free.