In the heart of the 1st arrondissement of Paris, where the Rue de Castiglione meets the Rue de la Paix, this pure jewel of French classicism is the setting for the Vendôme column at its centre.
Place Vendôme has made the neighbouring district a prestigious place, synonymous with quality jewellery, fashion and luxury hotels, such as the Hotel Brighton. Luxury is the key word in the Vendôme district, which is also the preferred location for financial institutions, banks and law firms.
One of the most beautiful squares in Paris
The Place Vendôme takes its name from the Hôtel de Vendôme which was located there. The square has changed its name several times over the course of its history. It was originally called Place Louis Le Grand, in reference to the Sun King. He was behind the initiative to create a square here, which he wanted to be grandiose, as a façade for the institutions of the monarchy.
This costly project was soon given up, but later taken over in a new form for the city of Paris by the architect Jules Hardouin Mansart. In the centre stood an impressive statue of Louis XIV, requested by the King himself and made by Girardon, at the top of a column that was destroyed during the French Revolution. During the Revolution, the square was named "Place des Piques" ("Pikes Square").
Today, it is home to several famous establishments. One of the first belonged to the banker John Law, who moved there in 1718, followed by the big names in jewellery: Cartier, Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels, Rolex, Chanel Joaillerie, as well as the luxury hotel the Ritz. The Ministry of Justice is also located here.
The Vendôme column near the Hôtel Brighton
This famous column was erected by Napoleon to commemorate the victory at Austerlitz and pay homage to the Grande Armée. It was nearly 45 metres in height, and was inspired by the Trajan column in Rome. The bas reliefs made from bronze of the defeated armies retrace the military achievements of the army. The statue of Napoleon as Cesar was placed at the summit of the column in 1810.
On the death of Napoleon, the statue on the Place Vendôme was destroyed. During the Second Empire, a copy of the statue was made and placed at the top of the column.
During the insurrection of the Paris Commune, the imperial column on the Place Vendôme was destroyed. At the end of this bloody period, the government in Versailles made the painter Gustave Courbet responsible for the demolition of the column. He was forced to pay the expenses for its reconstruction.