You get it now, Parisian squares are always intertwined with the story of the country, whether it’s on the political level, like with the Place Vendôme, or the judiciary level, like with the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville and its many public executions. Here’s another square that is no exception to the rule: the Place des Victoires set at the corner of the 1st and 2nd arrondissements.
Like the Place Vendôme, the Place des Victoires is created in tribute to Louis XIV and his military victories. And Maréchal and Duc de la Feuillade, the king’s famous courtier, who had the idea. The latter orders sculptor Martin Desjardins a huge and triumphal bronze statue of Louis XIV to celebrate the Nijmegen victory in 1678. La Feuillade spends not less than 7 million French livre for the works. The king is delighted but La Feuillade is ruined.
In addition to the statue of the Sun King, La Feuillade has famous architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart built a square to house the statue: the Place des Victoires. It’s the first circular square in the history of classic town planning! Hardouin-Mansart’s town planning is very strict and the owners have to build symmetrical buildings following standards: a high-ceiling first floor, a third attic floor, and so on. The Place des Victoires is ultimately inaugurated in 1686.
During your walk, you’ll notice on this lovely square that the statue in the center is not Louis XIV standing, but another statue of the Sun King riding a horse. Indeed, the original statue has been destroyed as many others have bee in the city during the French Revolution in 1792. Instead, revolutionaries build a pyramid made of wood bearing the names of their fighting companions who died on August 10, 1792 (one of the most significant days during the French Revolution so much that some historians call it the “Second Revolution”).
Louis XVIII, once king, orders a new statue of Louis XIV, this time proudly riding a reared-up horse to sculptor François-Joseph Bosio. This statue is inaugurated in 1822 and it’s the one you can still see today!
From now on, kings of France are buried and the Place des Victoires, as well as the Place Vendôme, became a place devoted to high fashion and fashion designers.
Place des Victoires
Place des Victoires
75001 Paris 1