Place Vendome in Paris
The Place Vendome in Paris is probably most well known as the square that is home to the fabulous Ritz hotel, but is also home to retail stores, famous jewellers and well known dress designers in couture, and in the middle of the square is one of the old monuments in Paris.
This is where many famous people have resided in the past, which includes the composer Frederic Chopin who died in his home at Place Vendome, and the designer Coco Chanel who resided at the Hotel Ritz and can still find some buildings that are still being used as residences today.
But there are also businesses who have established themselves in Place Vendome including Charvet, which is a shirt maker that has been here since the 1800s, the JP Morgan investment bank and the Ministry of Justice, which is called the Chancellerie, plus many others.
However, the history of the Place Vendome and also the Colonne Vendome column is just as fascinating, especially for those of you that are interested in the history of Paris, so lets start by taking a look at the history of the Place Vendome.
History of the Place Vendome
Originally there was a home and gardens by the square that we now know as Place Vendome, that belonged to the Duke of Mercoeur. This then passed to the son of King Henry IV and Gabrielle d’Estrees Cesar de Vendome who was the daughter of the Duke and this home became known as the Hotel Vendome.
The area was then purchased by Jules Hardouin Mansart, who was the favourite architect of King Louis XIV that designed the Trianon, Hall of Mirrors, the Orangerie and the stables at Chateau de Versailles, along with other monuments in Paris like the church Saint Louis and the Eglise du Dome at Les Invalides.
The idea of Jules Hardouin Mansart was to convert the area into building plots, which would make him a vast amount of money, however, his speculating did not materialise and then Francois Louvois, the minister to King Louis XIV, purchased this area with the same vision and to build a square, which would be modelled on the Place de Vosges.
The idea for the square was to be a grand place that would be in honour of King Louis XIV and his victories and he purchased other buildings in the area such as a convent, but Louvois envisioned much more than this. In fact, he wanted grand palaces to be constructed around the square and so, in an ironic twist of fate, he employed the expertise of Jules Hardouin Mansart to design this spectacular square and the buildings, which was called the Place des Conquetes.
In fact the original plans for the square showed that it was to be a rectangle, however it turned out to be an octagon shape that was only accessible by one street at that time. And the buildings themselves were constructed at the sides of the square and there are a total of twenty eight different residences that have beautiful architectural designs such as the linking of the windows from one floor to the next and Corinthian pilasters.
Unfortunately, Louvois never got to see the project completed as he died prior, and it was the king that took over the land and the project and the square became known as Place Louis de Grand, however the state finances were also running low as things were not going well for the kings armies.
However, there was a statue of King Louis erected in the centre of the square that remained in place until the French Revolution, when it was destroyed.
But getting back to the continuing history, this meant that the partially unfinished square and its properties were sold again. John Law was the very first person to live on the Place Vendome and he invested into the project himself, but yet again, finance was a key factor for the next period in the history of the Place Vendome.
John Law, had to sell his palace property and it was purchased by the Ministry of Justice in 1717, which actually makes it the oldest continuous occupant of any of the properties on the square.
But this also meant that other palace buildings became owned by artists, aristocrats and businessmen and the square actually gets its name from the very first property at No 1 that was owned by the Vendome family.
After the French revelation in the year 1800, it was decided that a column was going to be erected where the original statue had stood that would commemorate French military victories, but nothing ever came of this idea initially.
About Place Vendome Today
However, today, there is a column in the centre of the square called the Colonne Vendome that you can still see in all its glory, and the original one was the inspiration of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805.
Yet he also opened up the square by making sure there was another road opened up, which is called the Rue de la Paix, which is where the Palais Garnier Opera House opened up in the 1870s.
Now we mentioned earlier on about famous names that are located at the Place Vendome and it was in the year 1877 that the shirt maker Charvet acquired No 28. And then in 1898, Cesar Ritz purchased No 15 and No 17 and these palaces were turned into the Hotel Ritz, which still has the elegance and refinement, along with the long tradition of being one of the ultimate hotels in Paris.
Visiting Place Vendome Square in Paris
You will find the Place Vendome located in the 1st Arrondissement close to numerous tourist attractions including the Tuileries Gardens, so this makes it very easy to get to via public transport in Paris.
Now, the nearest Metro stations are the Pyramides stop serving lines 7 and 14, the Opera stop serving lines 3, 7 and 8, the Tuileries stop serving line 1 or the Concorde stop serving lines 1, 8 and 12. Yet the nearest RER station called the Musee d’Orsay stop serves line C, but is actually across the River Seine and a fair walk away.