Paris Travel Planner   Place Vendôme, Paris, France
This lovely square now hosts luxury jewelers and other shops, but it has a long history.




The Place Vendôme is located about midway between the Tuileries Gardens and the Opéra Garnier (map). One of the most elegant squares in Paris, it is home to the Ritz Hotel and many luxury shops. Some consider it the center of top quality jewelry in France.

The Place Vendôme was built under King Louis XIV as a symbol of power. Famous architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart designed the harmonious square, surrounded by elegant town houses with beautiful facades. These hôtels particuliers, or grand town houses, were often the city residences of nobles. Like the older Place des Vosges, the Place Vendôme has long been a prestige address.

In the center of the Place Vendôme was a large statue of Louis XIV on horseback. Originally called Place Louis Le Grand after the king, it was inaugurated in 1699.

As might be expected, Place Vendôme was a center of activity during the French Revolution. The statue of Louis XIV was knocked down and destroyed. In 1819, Napoléon ordered a new column built for the center of the square. This bronze column, which still stands in the Place Vendôme, was made from hundreds of enemy cannons from the Battle of Austerlitz (1805), considered one of Napoléon's greatest victories.

Bas-relief sculptures on bronze panels spiral up the entire length of the column (42 meters, or 138 feet). These recount the details of the Battle of Austerlitz and celebrate the great victory. Atop the column is a statue of Napoléon in Roman dress. Although the original statue was destroyed and others stood in its place, in 1863 a copy of the statue of Napoléon in Roman dress was made and restored to the column.

Place Vendôme is today a serene and beautiful spot, with its beautiful architecture and design. Surrounded by elegant shops, banks, and of course the Ritz Hotel, it is a lovely place to walk and admire the sparkling jewels in the shop windows.

Why is it called Place Vendôme? The Duke of Vendôme, César de Bourbon, was the illegitimate son of Henry IV and his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrées. He owned a townhouse in this location, which was acquired when the king wanted to create the square.

Vendôme is also the name of a small town in the Loire Valley. It is perhaps best known because of the children's song, "Orléans, Beaugency, Notre-Dame de Cléry, Vendôme, Vendôme." This song, which dates to 1420 and is one of the oldest French songs, describes the small area that was left to the Dauphin Charles, the future King Charles VII, after the Treaty of Troyes, which turned over most of France to the English King Henry V. More...

Whoever it's named for, it's a lovely square in the heart of the 1st arrondissement!

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  Place Vendôme, Paris

Above, The elegant Place Vendome, with Napoléon's Column at the center.




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