Place Vendome - Paris shopping destination
How it became home to the most iconic fine jewellery and watch brands in the worldLindsay McCallum
Perhaps the most recognizable place in Paris today is Place Vendôme. Squeezed in between the bustling Opéra Garnier and Place de la Concorde, Place Vendôme is a veritable oasis of fine jewellery boutiques and 5-star hotels.
In 1852, when Napoleon III commissioned Baron Haussmann to modernize Paris, Place Vendôme became the home of luxury shopping. After the opening of the Opéra Garnier in 1875, the centre of the Parisian fashion industry gravitated towards Place Vendôme.
Since its founding in 1780, the House of Chaumet has been intimately linked with the history of France. Designer Marie-Etienne Nitot was appointed the official crown jeweller after designing pieces for Napoelon’s wedding, and could also be credited for creating the Emperor’s sword in 1812.
Another pioneering watch and jewellery maison is Boucheron which moved into 26 Place Vendôme in 1893, becoming one of the first modern jewellers there. Boucheron notably crafted jewels for the Maharajah of Patiala in 1928 and established itself among the ranks of the finest jewellery makers in the world.
In 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels' first boutique opened at number 22 Place Vendôme, directly across from The Ritz Hotel. As one of the first jewellery boutiques there, They welcomed aristocrats and American business magnates who would stay at the Ritz, setting the international standards of elegance in Place Vendôme.
Beyond the first luxury jewellery maisons established in Place Vendôme is a well-edited selection of haute gamme labels. Shoppers can find classic brands such as Cartier, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Buccellati, Dior, Mikimoto, Piaget, Chanel, as well as more exclusive, even secret, names such as the custom jewellery maker JAR.
Even today when walking through Place Vendôme, the atmosphere of modern luxury and rich history lingers in the air. As the legendary houses carry on their legacy, they will without doubt leave their mark with every new collection to be launched.