Place Vendome, Paris - The Traveller


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Friday, April 1, 2016

Place Vendome, Paris


Place Vendome – First Arrondissement among Beautiful Squares of France

Place Vendome in Paris was laid in 1702 and is the first arrondissement among the most beautiful squares of France. Situated towards the north of the Tuileries Garden, it is an amazing example of neoclassical architecture in France akin to the squares of Place de la Concorde – Paris, Place de la Bourse – Bordeaux and Place Stanislas – Nancy.

Being a centre for money and luxury, Place Vendome offers a base for famous and high-status establishments namely the Ritz hotel, Chanel jewellery, Cartier, Rolex and the Ministry of Justice. In its centre the celebrated Column of Vendome tends to sit enthroned. Architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart who had built most of the Versailles Place had initially bought the land where it sits with a hope of making some revenue in real estate.

However, when the project seemed to be unsuccessful, the land was handed over to the King’s minister of finance who proposed the public square. It shape being octagonal, the square was intended to be built near the site which was formerly occupied by the palace of the First Duke of Vendome.

All Building Identical on Square

Later on when the land was passed from the minister to King Louis XIV, Mansart had re-entered the scene and was recruited to create the design for the square that was destined to oppose the Place des Vosges which had a statue in the centre of the predecessor of King Louis XIII. Alike the Place des Vosges, Mansard had made all the buildings identical on the square with arched ground floors together with tall windowed second floors.

Ornamental and pilasters pillars had been placed between each set of windows. Initially, Place Vendome was known as Place des Conquetes – Conquests Square, though was later on renamed to Place Louis de Grand – Louis the Great Square, when things were not going well for the armies of Louis. Nevertheless, a statue of the king had been erected in the square and remained there for a hundred years till it had been pulled down during the French Revolution in 1792.

Column Erected by Napoleon

Currently the column in the centre of the square had been erected by Napoleon as the Colonne D’Austerlitz and the 44 meter tall column has been modelled after Trajan Column of Rome which was built to honour the victory at Austerlitz in 1805, one of Napoleon’s greatest. It is said that the continuous ribbon of bas-relief bronze plates of the column, by the sculptor Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret had been made from 1200 cannon that were taken from both the armies of Russia and Austria at the time of the battle.

The column earlier known as the Colonne d’Austerlitz was later given the names of Colonne de la Victoire and Colonne de la Grande Armee. Presently it is known as the Colonne Vendome. The buildings on Place Vendome presently serve as residences and retail stores comprising of those belong to two famous jewellers as well as various well-known dress designers.

Several famous people have also lived along Place Vendome like composer Frederic Chopin, author George Sand and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, who had stayed at the Ritz for some time. It is said that Ernest Hemingway had helped to liberate the Ritz in 1944.

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