Place Vendome is one of the most famous squares in Paris, the location of the legendary Hôtel Ritz Paris, and the place where you’ll find the Colonne Vendôme column, with Napoleon statue on top.
Vendôme square was built from 1702-1720 according to the plans by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, inspired by Place des Vosges, to commemorate “Sun King” Louis XIV’s military victories…
…which is why the first name for the square was “Place des Conquêtes”, or “Square of Conquests”.
The name of the square was later changed into “Place Louis le Grand”, as the conquered areas turned out to be French possessions only temporarily.
However, with the name change, an equestrian statue for Louis XIV was added to it.
PHOTO: A view to the Vendôme square from next to the Seine river. Highlight of the square is its 44.3 meter (145 feet) tall column, with a statue of Emperor Napoleon I on top. Much of the inspiration for the design came from the column of Trajan in Rome.
PHOTO: On top of the column, there is a statue by Auguste Dumont, ofNapoleon Bonaparte (as Emperor Napoleon I), portrayed as “Caesar imperator” (dressed in a short cloak, and carrying a sword, statue of Nike of Samothrake, and an imperial crown of laurels). The statue was added to the square during Second French Empire (1852-1870), replacing an earlier Napoleon statue from 1833, which is located nowadays at the Hôtel les Invalides’ cour d’honneur.
PHOTO: View up to the bronze Colonne Vendôme, which was made, according to Napoleon, from the 1,200 cannons acquired from Russian and Austrian troops at the Battle of Austerlitz (1805). The column is decorated with ancient style 280 meter (306 yard) long bas-relief artwork, portraying main events at that battle.
PHOTO: Closeup of the column base, where there is a door leading to a staircase, which leads spiraling up (through the 3.6 m / 11.8 ft) wide column to the monument’s observation platform. Memorial writing on the base reads: “NEAPOLIO IMP AVG MONVMENTVM BELLI GERMANICI ANNO MDCCCV TRIMESTRI SPATIO DVCTV SVO PROFLIGATI EX AERE CAPTO GLORIAE EXERCITVS MAXIMI DICAVIT”…or, “Napoleon Emperor Augustus, under his leardership, dedicated to the glory of the grand army, a monument, which has been made out of bronze acquired from enemy during the 1805 war in Germany, completed in three months”.
PHOTO: Adjacent to the square, there is the pictured Ministère de la Justice, the French Ministry of Justice. Left (out) of the picture, you’ll find the luxury hotel Hôtel Ritz Paris (www.ritzparis.com), founded in 1898, where, for example, fictive leading character in “Da Vinci Code”, Robert Langdon, stayed, during the novel’s events in Paris.
Current name for the 213 meter (234 yard) long and 124 meter (136 yard) wide square, Place Vendome, comes from the fact that there used to be a palace called “Hôtel de Vendôme” at the location.
That palace was owned by César de Bourbon, son of King Henry IV.
Highlight of the Place Vendome is its central column, inspired by column of Trajan in Rome, with a statue of Napoleon I on top.
Napoleon had the column added to the square to replace a equestrian statue for Louis XIV in 1810, to celebrate Napoleon’s greatest military victory, at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.
Inspiration for the statue on top, meanwhile, came from “Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker”.
First version of the column statue was destroyed during the Bourbon Restoration, 1814-1830, and it was replaced in 1833 by a statue with Napoleon portrayed in a more modern dress.
That statue was, however, moved during the late 19th century to the Les Invalides, with the current version of the statue at Vendome square being an exact copy of the destroyed original that had stood at the top.
Bas relief artworks on the column are designs by Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret.
In addition to the magnificent column, the square is also internationally known for its luxury hotels, especially for the Hôtel Ritz Paris.
Another famous historical hotel at the square was Hôtel Le Bristol Paris (currently Hôtel de Vendôme, www.hoteldevendome.com), where, for example, King Edward VII stayed during his visits to Paris.
During its history, Place Vendome has been the home for many fashion designer & jeweler workshops, starting from Frederic Boucheron in 1893.
To learn more about the square’s history and the buildings here, one of the best resources is the official website, at www.comite-vendome.com/place-vendome/.