Place Vendôme is located in the historic center of Paris, 3 km east of the legendary Eiffel Tower.Built at the request of King Louis XIV, it was originally called the Square of Conquest. The famous Vendôme Column rises in the center of the square.
History of education and the concept of the square
Place Vendôme is chic and beautiful. It is decorated with signs of boutiques of luxury brands and luxury hotels. Diamonds and sapphires, rubies and emeralds, pearls and gold, framed in platinum, dazzle the eyes in the shining windows of jewelry stores. The square is surrounded by luxurious buildings built in the classicism style .
“The state is me!”
Long ago, horse-drawn carriages roamed here, His Majesty the Sun King and the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, the graceful Coco Chanel and the passionate Marquise de Pompadour.
The court architect of Louis XIV, Jules Hardouin Mansart, received a task from the king: to build a delightful, unique and majestic square – such as himself, the Sun King , living under the motto: “The state is me!”
According to the plan of the monarch, the square should contain luxurious mansions, a mint, an Academy and a library. The Sun King planned to immortalize his glory with a majestic statue in which he sits on a horse. The square should become an addition to the monument, worthy and graceful frame.
Creating a square
On the site of the future square was the estate of the rich and influential Duke Cesar de Vendome, therefore it was named Vendome. In 1680, the French king bought the duke’s palace, and in 1699 a spacious square appeared on the site of the palace, in the center of which there was an equestrian sculpture of the king with a huge wig on his head, which stood here for 100 years.
The monarch did not have money for the construction of the square: the royal treasury was exhausted by the exorbitant restructuring of Paris, which the Sun King started, glorifying himself. Constant wars between France and European countries completely devastated the treasury, and for a long time the statue of the king stood alone on the spacious square.
Houses were built here only in 1720. A huge rectangular square (213 * 124 m) with rounded corners was surrounded by buildings of the same type in the classicism style. The facades, created in three parts, are decorated with arches on the ground floor and Corinthian columns spanning the 2nd and 3rd floors. The palaces located at the corners of the square were decorated with triangular pediments – the completion of the building’s facade, bounded by two roof slopes.
On the floors under the roofs, the architect arranged additional housing with a slanting ceiling. He decorated the windows of the attics with graceful stucco moldings, highlighting them against the background of strict facades. So Monsieur Mansart developed a new detail in architecture, named after the architect an attic.
The square, to which one street faced, was a quiet aristocratic area, where only once a year there was a rumble of people when the fair was held. Celebrities have settled in the constructed buildings, and each of the similar houses has an interesting history associated with the noble owners of the buildings.
Mansions Place Vendome
An octagonal square surrounded by a uniform elegant
buildings, looks monumental. Against the backdrop of the facades of the palaces, tourists take pictures and make purchases in luxurious clothing houses and jewelry stores.
House number 11
The mansion belonged to the richest resident of the Place Vendome, the stockbroker Poisson, who ended up in the Bastille for dishonest deals. The fraudster got his freedom by donating his mansion to the authorities. Here to this day – the Ministry of Justice and the French Chancellery.
House number 12
The owner of the house, Baron Baudard de Saint-James, Treasurer of the French Navy, presented Queen Marie Antoinette with a necklace worth 800,000 francs. In 1838-1848, this house housed the Russian embassy.
In 1948, the Polish composer, virtuoso pianist Fryderyk Chopin, beloved Georges Sand, lived here. For 100 years, the house belonged to the jewelers Chome, one of the representatives of the dynasty built a crown for Napoleon.
House number 13
A marble meter was placed on the house on display – so the townspeople were accustomed to a new measure of length for them. The palace belonged to the grandfather of the writer Georges Sand.
House number 14 and 15
After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, house number 14 housed the embassy of the Russian Empire.
House number 15 on the Place Vendome is located in the chic Parisian hotel Ritz , named after the founder of Cesar Ritz. In an elite hotel, everything is thought out to the smallest detail, from a bath in each room to magnificent interiors and the highest level of service. The sophistication and elegance of the Ritz hotel competes with the palaces of kings and princes.
Here, even the lighting is arranged so that a fresh blush always plays on the faces of the ladies. The host’s concern for the guests, expressed by the principle “the client is always right,” was appreciated by many. Ernest Hemingway loved to spend time here, Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo, Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel, who lived in a hotel apartment for 30 years, stayed here.
Scott Fitzgerald and Princess Diana have stayed here. The Mercedes drove out of this hotel with Princess Diana on the tragic night of the accident in front of the Alma Bridge.
Guests drive up to the hotel imperceptibly through the underground parking. Each room has a mini-bar, terrace or balcony, modern communication facilities. The cost of living in a room is from 18,000 euros per night. Assessing the hotel, Hemingway said: “Having arrived in Paris, there is no reason not to live in Ritz, if, of course, you can afford it!”
House number 16
The house number 16 was inhabited by the Austrian doctor Franz-Anton Mesmer , who believed that the planets cured people. The healer created the doctrine of “animal magnetism”, or mesmerism, and treated the Parisian aristocrats from nervous diseases.
Rich quickly, Mesmer demanded a castle for himself, but pride turned against the doctor. The government commission recognized mesmerism as a fraud and intended to repress the insolent healer. Warned in time by his admirers, Mesmer fled to England, where he continued his lucrative business.
House number 17 and 19
Houses No. 17 and 19 were owned by the richest people in France – the bankers Crozat. Under Louis XIV, Pierre Crozat collected a collection of 400 paintings, 19 thousand drawings and 1.5 thousand precious stones.
For a meager price, Crozat’s son sold the richest collection to the Russian Empress Catherine II through the mediation of the French philosopher and art critic Denis Diderot. Today canvases by Raphael, Giorgione and Rubens, Titian and Veronese, Tintoretto and Van Dyck adorn the collection of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
House number 23
The house number 23 was home to the Scotsman Dason Lowe – the inventor of the world’s first financial pyramid. In 1725, he arranged a trade in the shares of the “Indian Company”, which supposedly mastered the American possessions of France. People invested their savings in shares issued in insane quantities, with which Lowe successfully escaped.
The majestic Column of Vendôme rises in the middle of the square. The 44-meter monument, erected on a marble pedestal, raised a 6-meter statue of the victorious monarch. During the French Revolution, the Sun King statue was mercilessly dealt with, leaving an empty pedestal.
In 1806, Napoleon wanted to see a monument in the center of the French capital in honor of the triumphal victories of his army. Place for the “Column of Victories”, cast from bronze 1250 captured cannons, chose the Place Vendôme.
On an empty pedestal, a column was erected in honor of the brilliant victory of the French army at Austerlitz, which at birth was named Austerlitz .
In a spiral structure from the base to the top – bronze bas-reliefs, made according to the sketches of the artist Jean-Baptiste Leper. 76 bas-reliefs on the trunk of the column depict scenes of military campaigns of Napoleon’s army in the victorious campaign of 1805.
Time of defeat
A column with a statue of Napoleon in a Roman toga was built in August 1810. In 1814, the Allies who defeated the French army removed the monument and melted it down, erecting a monument to Henry IV, which was installed on the New Bridge. A white flag was hoisted on the monumental column.
Twenty years later, in 1833, King Louis-Philippe ordered a statue of Napoleon to be installed at the top of the column in the form of the “little corporal.”
Communards and Napoleon’s Column
In 1871, during the French Revolution, the Communards came to power for a short time (72 days). The revolutionary government created a commission on arts affairs, whose chairman – Gustave Curbet – insisted on the destruction of the column, declaring it “a symbol of false glory.”
To the hooting of the crowd, the column was dumped into the manure and drowned in the Seine. After the fall of the Commune, the nephew of the emperor who came to power ordered the return of the monument to its place at the expense of Courbet’s personal funds.
The artist went bankrupt, reimbursing the costs of restoring the statue for the rest of his life, and died in poverty and oblivion. The column stands in its original place, to the delight of the inhabitants and guests of Paris. A monument to the “little corporal” was erected at the House of Invalids.
Today the column on the Place Vendome is crowned with a statue of Napoleon by the French sculptor Auguste Dumont. The emperor is depicted in a short Roman cloak, a laurel wreath flaunts on his head, and in his hands – a sword and a globe with the winged goddess of Victory. Under the expressive statue there is a rectangular platform with a railing.
World name of Place Vendome
Now the name of Place Vendome is associated with jewelry houses of the world: Chaumet, Boucheron and Moboussin, Van Cleef and Arpels. You will not see price tags in any of the elite shops located near the square.
Tourists from all over the world, visiting the square, freeze in admiration of the famous Vendome Column.