Welcome to the kingdom of luxury and refinement à la française!
Classic architecture, prestigious brands and opulent hotels… Located in the heart of the 1st arrondissement, the Place Vendôme is one of the most chic and famous public squares in Paris!
Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of Paris? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Are you looking for a hotel in Paris? Feel free to have a look at the Captain’s recommendations: Where to sleep in Paris? Tips & recommendations
Brief history of the Place Vendôme
The origins of the Place Vendôme
Let’s go back in time to the end of the 17th century, shall we?
In the 1680s, the Marquis de Louvois, one of Louis XIV’s chief ministers, took up the idea of the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart (known for his work on the Château de Versailles) to create a vast rectangular square on the present site of the Place Vendôme. This square, named Place Louis Le Grand, was intended to house a series of public buildings: the royal library, the Hôtel de la Monnaie (Paris Mint), etc.
Jules Hardouin-Mansart built the facades – without constructing the back of the buildings! – and the sculptor François Girardon erected a bronze statue of Louis XIV in the heart of the square.
But the construction program was abandoned at the end of the 17th century and replaced by a new project, also headed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The square was no longer intended to house public buildings, but rather private mansions designed to accommodate the Parisian elite. The architect destroyed the facades which he had previously built and redesigned the square completely. The new square – which was to be slightly larger than the previous version – was to be built in the classical style.
Once again, Jules Hardouin-Mansart only built the facades of the future buildings (for the sake of harmony)… It was up to the buyers of the land to build the rest!
👑 The 5 royal squares of Paris 👑
The Place Vendôme is in the very select club of the 5 royal squares in Paris! In the center of each of these once stood a statue of the French sovereign. These squares were therefore intended to glorify the monarch. The royal squares also have the particularity of following a geometrical and orderly plan.
The 5 royal squares of Paris are: the Place des Vosges (a must-see in Paris), the Place de la Concorde, the Place des Victoires, the Place Dauphine… and of course the Place Vendôme!
The Place Vendôme under the Revolution
During the Revolution, the Place Louis Le Grand was renamed Place des Piques (in reference to the heads of royalists planted on pikes and exhibited by the revolutionaries) and the equestrian statue of Louis XIV was destroyed.
Napoleon, the Vendôme Column… and the Paris Commune
In 1810, Napoleon erected the huge Vendome Column in the center of the square to commemorate the battle of Austerlitz.
Made from the bronze of 1200 cannons seized from the enemy, the column is largely inspired by the Trajanic Column in Rome.
But the Vendome Column was not to everyone’s taste… In 1871, the Communards (members and supporters of the short-lived 1871 Paris Commune) – including the anarchist painter Gustave Courbet – tore down the column, considered a symbol of imperial despotism, and renamed the square “Place Internationale”. When the Paris Commune was routed by the government, the Vendome Column was rebuilt and Gustave Courbet was ordered to restore it at his own expense (for a total of 323,091.68 francs).
💡 What was the Paris Commune? 💡
The Paris Commune was a popular insurrection that swept through the French capital in 1871 and lasted 72 days. Crushed by the government in May 1871, the Paris Commune ended in bloodshed during a week of deadly confrontations known as “Bloody Week”.
Jewelers & prestigious brands
The Place Vendôme is heaven on earth for jewelers and prestigious brands!
From the early 19th century, the Place Vendôme and the adjacent streets (rue de la Paix, rue Saint-Honoré…) gradually became the epicenter of French luxury and refinement. Major jewelry and haute-couture brands have taken up residence in and around the former royal square: Boucheron, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc.
Visiting the Place Vendôme in Paris
A square nestled in the heart of the 1st arrondissement
To discover the famous Place Vendôme, head for the heart of the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The Place Vendôme is located a few steps from some of the most emblematic monuments of the French capital: the Tuileries Garden, the Opéra Garnier, La Madeleine, the Louvre Museum or the Musée de l’Orangerie.
Plenty to do in the neighborhood!
What to see & do on the Place Vendôme?
The Vendome Column
Nestled in the center of the square, the Vendôme Column is a reconstruction dating from 1875, the original column – erected in 1810 on the initiative of Napoleon I – having been destroyed in 1871 during the Paris Commune.
The bas-reliefs adorning the Vendôme column recall the Battle of Austerlitz, won in 1805 by Napoleon’s troops against the coalition formed by the United Kingdom, the Russian Empire, the Empire of Hungary and Sweden.
The column is entirely made of bronze and surmounted by a statue of Napoleon represented as Caesar.
The private mansions of the Place Vendôme
The Place Vendôme is surrounded by 28 private mansions, many of which are classified as historical monuments and are now occupied by luxury brands.
Do not miss the Ministry of Justice at number 13 of the square nor the famous Ritz at number 15. Founded in 1898 and completely renovated between 2012 and 2016, it ranks very high on the list of the most prestigious hotels in the French capital.
Among the famous jewelers located in the square, you’ll find Gucci, Chanel, Van Cleed & Arpels or Rolex.
Place Vendôme is not enough to satisfy your insatiable thirst for luxury and elegance? The mythical streets of the surroundings should do the trick: rue de la Paix, la rue Saint-Honoré, rue de Rivoli.
💳 Shop without breaking the bank! 💳
You have an irrepressible urge to shop, but your bank account won’t allow you to splurge in the posh stores around Place Vendôme? No worries! Head for the Rue de Rivoli. If the shops near the Place de la Concorde and the Palais Royal are very high end, you’ll find much more affordable stores if you continue towards Châtelet and Hôtel de Ville (Zara, Monki, Bershka, Oysho…).
The Place Vendôme is located halfway between the Opera Garnier, the Tuileries Garden and La Madeleine.
The nearest metro stations are Opéra (lines 3, 7 and 8) and Tuileries (line 1). The nearest city bus stops are: Pyramides – Saint-Honoré (line 68) and Pyramides (lines 21, 27, 68 and 95).
The hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tours also stop near the Place Vendôme.
👉 Skip the lines in Paris: book your tickets and tours in advance!
Looking for advice and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: Looking for an accommodation in Paris? Good news: there are plenty of options in the French capital. To book your hotel in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends the website Booking.com. From cheap hostels to luxury palaces, you’ll have plenty of options to chose from. As for the localisation, it depends both on your budget and on what you’re looking for. If you can’t afford staying in the most expensive areas of the capital, the Captain recommends that you look for a hotel in the 12th or 13th arrondissements: they’re not as central, but are very well connected to the centre of Paris. The Buttes au Cailles, which looks just like a small village, is one of the Captain’s favourite neighbourhoods in Paris. If you’d rather stay in a chic and sophisticated hotel, here are the best 3 options according to the Captain: the St. James , the Dokhan’s and the Metropolitan .
🎟️ Activities : in order to book skip-the-line tickets, tours and activities in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends GetYourGuide and Civitatis. Guided tours, entrance tickets, cruises, unusual activities: there’s plenty to chose from. If you want to avoid queuing to get into museums and monuments, the Captain suggests opting for skip-the-line tickets.
⛵ City cruises: Can you really visit Paris without going on a cruise on the Seine? The Captain loves sailing on the river and admiring the emblematic monuments of the French capital, especially at nightfall. You will find a large selection of cruises in Paris here.
🎫 City cards : If you’re planning on staying in Paris for a few days, you should definitely consider investing in a city card giving access to the capital’s top museums and landmarks. which includes access to the most famous monuments in Paris.
🚐 Transfers: the parisian airports are located outside the city and getting to the city centre can be quite expensive.
If your budget is tight, the Captain recommends the RATP shuttles that will drop you off at Opera if you’re coming from Roissy airport and at Denfert-Rochereau if you’re coming from Orly airport.
But for a few extra euros, you can book a transfer that will take you directly to your hotel.
If you are traveling in a group, this option is all the more interesting. Find out more here.
🚌 Transports: While you’ll be able to explore part of the city on foot, you will have to use the parisian public transports to explore some of the capital’s landmarks. In order to avoid accumulating (and losing) metro tickets, the Captain recommends opting for an unlimited transport pass. You can buy it directly at in any metro station.
Open tour buses (audioguides included) are also a good option.
If you’d rather explore Paris on a boat, you will love the batobus, a river shuttle on the Seine !
✈️ Flights, trains & buses : Good news: getting to Paris is quite easy! If you’re planning on flying to the capital, the Captain recommends Skyscanner, an online comparator which is perfect for finding the best deals. If your dates are flexible, you can even compare prices over several weeks. Paris is also easily accessible by train and bus. To book your tickets, the Captain highly recommends Omio, which integrates the offer of 207 train and bus companies in 44 countries.
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