Located iat the heart of Paris, Place Vendôme is a square best known for its luxurious and elegant townhouses and fashion boutiques.
The infamous square was laid out in 1702 as a monument to the glory of the armies of Louis XIV. It was initially called Place des Conquêtes, later renamed to Place Louis le Grand. An over life-size equestrian statue of the king was set up in its centre - it's supposed to have been the first large modern equestrian statue to be cast in a single piece. Sadly, it was destroyed in the French Revolution.
The column which stands at present in the middle of the square was commissioned by Napoleon and was completed in 1810. It was modelled after Trajan's Column, to celebrate the victory of Austerlitz. Its veneer of 425 spiralling bas-relief bronze plates was made out of cannon taken from the combined armies of Europe. A statue of Napoleon, bare-headed, crowned with laurels and holding a sword in his right hand and a globe surmounted with a statue of Victory in his left hand, was placed atop the column.
Little known fact: The unification of measurements (length, area, weight…) is one aspect of life shaken up by the French Revolution. Before 1790, each region had its own measure, which could also have a different value according to its geographical area. To facilitate trade, and avoid confusion, traders of the main cities asked uniformity of weights and measures. The National Convention adopted a decree imposing a metric system in France enacted in April 1795. The mètre étalon represented a small shelf of marble, 16 of which were installed in Paris' busiest places. The only original slab surviving at its initial place can be found beneath the arcade at 36, rue Vaugirard, right across from the Senate at the Palais du Luxembourg. The only other to survive, although moved from its original location, is at 13, de la Place Vendôme.
Sip a cocktail favourite of Chanel, Hemingway and Fitzgerald
Apart from its rich historical value, the Place Vendôme is renowned for its luxury boutiques and deluxe hotels such as the Ritz. Speaking of the latter - the Ritz' bar, known as The Hemingway Bar is arguably a must-go-to sight. As the name suggests, Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor, as was F. Scott Fitzgerald, among other celebrities of the day. Although quite pricey, the bar's spectacular interior offers a one-of-a-kind Parisian experience.
As for the hotel itself - legendary designer Coco Chanel in fact resided at the Hotel Ritz, located at number 15, despite owning an entire floor at 31 rue Cambon dedicated to entertaining her many friends and guests. The suite that Chanel once called home still stands fully decorated with her own furniture and art. For anyone wishing to take in its breathtaking view and spectacular interior, The Coco Chanel suite is available at the price of $11,000 per night.
Speaking of Chanel and back to 31 rue Cambon... The narrow street is located to the west right next to Place Vendôme. In the 1920s, Chanel purchased the entire building at 31 rue Cambon. She used the ground floor to open her first fashion boutique. It furthermore houses her couture studio which is used to this day. You'll find her apartment on the second and final floor. Tours of her apartment are available by special appointment only and offered to a handful of visitors.
Fancy some jewellery shopping?
Retracing our steps to the square - whose octagonal shape inspired the silhouette of Chanel N°5 perfume bottle. Today, Place Vendôme houses multiple luxury jewellery stores of brands such as Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpels, Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Choppard, etc. Famous fashion designers have had their salons in the square. The only two original ones remaining are the shirtmaker Charvet, at number 28, whose store has been at the Place since 1877, and the couturier Chéruit, at number 21. Since 1718, the Ministry of Justice has been located at the Hotel de Bourvallais located at numbers 11 and 13. Right on the other side of the Place, number 14 houses the Paris office of investment bank JP Morgan.