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The Place Vendôme

If you love French history, architecture, and luxury, you cannot miss this promenade that starts at the hotel, goes up the rue Saint-Honoré to reach Place Vendôme then the Rue de la Paix, joining the Tuileries Garden (read our article). This visit can be a good preview before touring the Palace of Versailles.

Place Vendôme was built under Louis XIV. It is made up of 28 hôtels particuliers, most classified as historical monuments. This masterpiece, which is characterized by perfect symmetry, is a good example of classical French architecture. Considered the most luxurious place in the world, Place Vendôme is the place of French and international fine jewelry.


An architectural wonder 1300 feet from the Relais Saint-Honoré

 

 
There are two places similar in their rigor and nobility of their architecture that exist in Paris. Place Vendôme and Place des Vosges are Royal places, the first being that of the Sun King, the second, that of Henry IV. Both are symmetrical in zoning regulations and in architectural design. Place Vendôme may at first appears less charming without a garden in its center, but it is like the Palace of Versailles, the expression of the radiation of the Kingdom of France of the 16th century.

It was in 1865 that the architect Mansart drew the plans for the octagonal square. Mansart was the first architect of Louis XIV. He designed many parts of the Palace of Versailles, including the Hall of Mirrors, Notre-Dame of Versailles, the Chapels of Versailles, the Grand Trianon ; the Versailles Orangerie…

Mansart designed or transformed many buildings that are today classified, such as the Château d’Ecouen (a nice visit 45 minutes from Paris) or the Château de Meudon. He is also the inventor of the "Mansarde".
 
The architecture of Château de Meudon recaptures the same principles as those of the buildings in Place Vendôme

It is home to illustrious hotels like the hôtel de Ourvillais, headquarters of the Ministry of Justice, the hôtel de Gramont, which hosts part of the Ritz, or the hôtel Baudard de Saint-James, where Frederic Chopin stayed between 1849 and 1853.


French and international fine jewelery


No less than 28 prestigious jewelers are established around the square.
British Graff Diamonds, installed in 2016

Boucheron is the first jeweler to have settled on Place Vendôme in 1893. Cartier followed in 1898, Chaumet in 1902, Van Cleef & Arpels in 1906...

Quite late, in 1997, Chanel opened a shop dedicated to watchmaking and jewelry. A legitimate location as Gabrielle Chanel stayed in Place Vendôme for many years.  Legend says that the square's shape inspired him to for the shape of the famous Numéro 5 bottle.

Don't hesitate to visit the different shops, you will be very well received.

 

The octagonal shape of the "Numéro 5" bottle from 1921-1986

Many anecdotes contribute to the myth of Place Vendôme, among which we can mention that of the Maharadjah of Patiala. The Maharadjah went to Boucheron in 1923 with twelve guards carrying six trunks of diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. A treasure representing two billion francs, or about 1.5 billion euros. It is the most important convoy that jewelers had ever seen in Paris. The Maharajah placed to this day the largest order in the history of the Place Vendome.

During this stay, the Cartier house received the maharajah and created a spectacular diamond necklace.(Photo Archives Cartier © Cartier)


The Vendôme Column

 
Place Vendôme, once known as Place Louis le Grand, with the statue of Louis XIV
 
The square originally had the statue of Louis XIV in its center, though the statue was destroyed during the 1789 revolution. A column topped with a statue of Napoleon I with Caeser's crown was built in 1810 to commemorate the victory of Austerlitz. The statue was replaced in 1830 by that of the same emperor dressed as "corporal" and again replaced by a copy of the 1st statue of Napoleon. The column was destroyed in 1871 by the Communards, then rebuilt in 1873.
 

Destruction of the columnVendôme under the « Commune » events

The painter Gustave Courbet,who was deemed responsible for the column's destruction, was ordered to pay the sum of 323,091 francs needed for its reconstruction. Captured and bankrupt, he fled to Switzerland and died before paying the first installment.


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