If the Place Vendôme remains as one of the leading tourist sites in Paris, it owes this achievement to its enticing and appealing window displays. Luxury has reigned supreme here since its beginnings. When Louis XIV decided to create this area, in effect he wanted a space that was both spacious and grand that would show off the monarchy in all of its pomp. For these plans to succeed, he invested in eight hectares of land that belonged to the Duke of Vendôme – everything was planned alongside his architect Louis Hardouin-Mansart. Unfortunately, the monarch did not have the means to fulfil these ambitions, and he had to give up the site to the City of Paris. A statue of Louis XIV on his horse takes pride of place in the middle of the area, and the elite of Paris quickly flocked to take up residence there. The revolutionaries were extremely happy with the idea of unbolting it in 1792.
20 years later, Napoléon erected a 44m column in the square, and it was made from melted lead that had been taken from enemy cannons at the Battle of Austerlitz. The Emperor said that 1200 had been taken, while historians believe that it was just 130! The regimes that followed chose this square as a place of commemoration. This led to the design of the Vendôme Column that was destroyed in an attack by the Communards in 1871. The Third Republic raised the monument once more, and the bill for the new column was presented to Gustave Courbet, the individual who was deemed to be guilty for the destruction of the original. Rather than settle this debt, he preferred exile in Switzerland.