Thursday, 9 February 2012

Place Vendôme

I always find the scale of Place Vendôme in the 1st arrondissement of Paris disconcerting. It is vast, and largely empty. I think it must be about 120 metres from one side of the square to the other. There are only two ways into the square, and two ways out.

It was built between 1702 and 1720, a hundred or so years after the Place des Vosges. As with the Place des Vosges, the architectural style of the facades on all sides of the square is the same. Here is the view as you approach from rue St Honoré (the south-west). That's Napoleon, perched on top of the column.

When ever I visit the Place Vendôme I always seem to gravitate towards the column in the centre.

Over 40 metres high, the original column, built by Napoleon to commemorate the battle of Austerlitz, was modelled on Trajan's Column in Rome. Originally, at the top of the column was a statue of Napoleon riding a horse. The column was dismantled in 1871 upon orders of the government ruling Paris at that time. It is was later re-erected using the original bronze panels. The statue of Napoleon, which had been melted down when the column was dismantled, was replaced, this time there was no horse. There is apparently a spiral staircase on the inside of the column that takes you to the top. Not for the claustrophobic I would think.

The bronze panels are apparently made from 133 melted down canons retrieved from the battle of Austerlitz (1805).

I love the colours and intricate details of the bronze panels. Look at the tassels on that blanket...

...and the feathers on this helmet...

I love the green bronze set against the creamy Parisian stone.

Lampposts and column vie for attention.

Here's the column admiring its' reflection.

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