Place de la Concorde

The Place de la Concorde (French: [plas də la kɔ̃kɔʁd]) is one of the major public squares in Paris, France. Measuring 7.6 ha (19 acres) in area, it is the largest square in the French capital. It is located in the city's eighth arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées.

Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde from the Eiffel Tower, Paris April 2011.jpg
The Place de la Concorde as seen from the Eiffel Tower, April 2011
Place de la Concorde is located in Paris
Place de la Concorde
Shown within Paris
Length359 m (1,178 ft)
Width212 m (696 ft)
QuarterLa Madeleine
Coordinates48°51′56″N 2°19′16″E / 48.86556°N 2.32111°E / 48.86556; 2.32111Coordinates: 48°51′56″N 2°19′16″E / 48.86556°N 2.32111°E / 48.86556; 2.32111

It was the site of many notable public executions, including the executions of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in the course of the French Revolution, during which the square was temporarily renamed Place de la Révolution.



The place was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 as a moat-skirted octagon between the Champs-Elysées to the west and the Tuileries Garden to the east. Decorated with statues and fountains, the area was named the Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time. The square showcased an equestrian statue of the king, which had been commissioned in 1748 by the city of Paris, sculpted mostly by Edmé Bouchardon, and completed by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle after the death of Bouchardon.

At the north end, two magnificent identical stone buildings were constructed. Separated by the rue Royale, these structures remain among the best examples of Louis Quinze style architecture. Initially, the eastern building served as the French Naval Ministry. Shortly after its construction, the western building became the opulent home of the Duc d'Aumont. It was later purchased by the Comte de Crillon, whose family resided there until 1907. The famous luxury Hôtel de Crillon, which currently occupies the building, took its name from its previous owners.

French RevolutionEdit

During the French Revolution in 1789 the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed the Place de la Révolution. The new revolutionary government erected a guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793.

Other important figures guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Élisabeth of France, Madame du Barry, Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Antoine Lavoisier, Maximilien Robespierre, Louis de Saint-Just, and Olympe de Gouges.

The old plaque, for "Place Louis XVI", and replacement plaque at the corner of Hôtel de Crillon
The Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation, one of the two Fontaines de la Concorde (1840) on the Place de la Concorde. Behind: the Hôtel de Crillon; to the left: the embassy of the United States.
Execution of Louis XVI in the then Place de la Révolution. The empty pedestal in front of him had supported a statue of his grandfather, Louis XV, torn down during one of the many revolutionary riots.

In 1795, under the Directory, the square was renamed Place de la Concorde as a gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the revolution. After the Bourbon Restoration of 1814, the name was changed back to Place Louis XV, and in 1826 the square was renamed Place Louis XVI. After the July Revolution of 1830 the name was returned to Place de la Concorde and has remained that way since.


Map of the Place de la Concorde, Paris, France.
Place de la Concorde as seen from la Terrasse des Tuileries ca 1900


The Obelisk of Luxor stands on top of a pedestal that recounts the special machinery and manoeuvres that were used to transport it.

The centre of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. It is one of two the Egyptian government gave to the French in the 19th century. The other one stayed in Egypt, too difficult and heavy to move to France with the technology at that time. On 26 September 1981, President François Mitterrand gave the second obelisk back to the Egyptians.[3]

The obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The Khedive of Egypt, or royal constitutional monarch, Muhammad Ali Pasha, offered the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk as a diplomatic gift to France in 1829. It arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833. Three years later, on 25 October 1836, King Louis Philippe had it placed in the center of Place de la Concorde.

The obelisk, a yellow granite column, rises 23 metres (75 ft) high, including the base, and weighs over 250 tonnes (280 short tons). Given the technical limitations of the day, transporting it was no easy feat – on the pedestal are drawn diagrams explaining the machinery that was used for the transportation. The obelisk is flanked on both sides by fountains constructed at the time of its erection on the Place.

The government of France added a gold-leafed pyramidal cap to the top of the obelisk in 1998, replacing the missing original, believed stolen in the 6th century BC.

The fountainsEdit

Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation (1840) with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

The two fountains in the Place de la Concorde have been the most famous of the fountains built during the time of Louis-Philippe, and came to symbolize the fountains in Paris. They were designed by Jacques Ignace Hittorff, a student of the Neoclassical designer Charles Percier at the École des Beaux-Arts. The German-born Hittorff had served as the official Architect of Festivals and Ceremonies for the deposed King, and had spent two years studying the architecture and fountains of Italy.

Hittorff's two fountains were on the theme of rivers and seas, in part because of their proximity to the Ministry of Navy, and to the Seine. Their arrangement, on a north–south axis aligned with the Obelisk of Luxor and the Rue Royale, and the form of the fountains themselves, were influenced by the fountains of Rome, particularly Piazza Navona and the Piazza San Pietro, both of which had obelisks aligned with fountains.

Both fountains had the same form: a stone basin; six figures of tritons or naiads holding fish spouting water; six seated allegorical figures, their feet on the prows of ships, supporting the pedestal, of the circular vasque; four statues of different forms of genius in arts or crafts supporting the upper inverted upper vasque; whose water shot up and then cascaded down to the lower vasque and then the basin.

The north fountain was devoted to the Rivers, with allegorical figures representing the Rhone and the Rhine, the arts of the harvesting of flowers and fruits, harvesting and grape growing; and the geniuses of river navigation, industry, and agriculture.

The south fountain, closer to the Seine, represented the seas, with figures representing the Atlantic and the Mediterranean; harvesting coral; harvesting fish; collecting shellfish; collecting pearls; and the geniuses of astronomy, navigation, and commerce.[4]

References in popular cultureEdit

In the 1961 experimental documentary Chronique d'un été, Marceline Loridan-Ivens walks through the Place de la Concorde while reflecting on memories of her father and her time in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In the Star Trek novels, the Place de la Concorde is the location of the offices of the President and the Council of the United Federation of Planets.

In The Devil Wears Prada, Andrea Sachs throws her phone into one of the Fontaines de la Concorde.

Angel, the seventh book in the Maximum Ride novel series, includes the Place de la Concorde as a rally area to a crime organization known as the Doomsday Group.

In the video game Tom Clancy's EndWar, the Place de la Concorde is across the bridge from the spawn point and is a major firefight zone. The zone is also showcased in the trailer, Russians use the square for cover and the Luxor Obelisk is heavily damaged. Later in the trailer a transport aircraft crashes in the center of the square. In the end a missile lands in the background and destroys the square.

In Matthew Reilly's first novel in the Jack West Jr series, Seven Ancient Wonders, the Place de la Concorde is the resting place of a piece of the capstone to the Great Pyramid at Giza.

In the novel Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Rosemary and Dick pass through the Place de la Concorde several times during their secret liaison.

In music, Jean-Michel Jarre performed the concert place de la concorde, held on 14 July 1979, celebrating the Bastille Day. One million spectators attended this concert.

In the music video of "Tendrement" by Koffi Olomide on his album Affaire D'etat he is seen walking round Fontaines de la Concorde.

The Luxor Obelisk is mentioned in the song "Il est cinq heures, Paris s'éveille" by Jacques Dutronc.

In the 1968 kaiju classic film “Destroy All Monsters” the giant dinosaur “Gorosaurus” burrows underground and causes the Place de la Concorde to collapse.

Interaction with contemporary artEdit

During six months (October 2015 - May 2016), the interactive sculpture entitled PHARES,[5] by the French artist and engineer Milène Guermont,[6][7][8] was installed in Place de la Concorde next to the Obelisk. Any passer-by could transmit her or his heartbeat directly into PHARES thanks to a cardiac sensor and this artwork sparkled and illuminated the Obelisk at her or his heart rhythm. This federative, sustainable and monumental artwork of 30 meters high was also in dialogue with the Eiffel Tower and the Montparnasse Tower.


In January 2021, Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, announced that the city would undertake an ambitious €250 million redesign of the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Élysées. Work on the Place de la Concorde will be the first to be undertaken in advance of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.[9][10] The redesign is intended to increase pedestrian space, reduce car traffic, and add more trees for improved air quality along the Champs-Élysées. A walkway will connect over 200 acres of green space between the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées, the Place de la Concorde, and the Tuileries Gardens.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Carrie LeFlore Perry". Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  2. ^ "The last week, the road to war". Archived from the original on 23 March 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  3. ^ Un Jour De Plus a Paris Retrieved 6 July 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Beatrice Lamoitier, L'essor des fontaines monumentales, in Paris et ses fontaines, pg. 173.
  5. ^ Lavigne, Aude (1 March 2016). "Milène Guermont, artist". France Culture (in French). Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  6. ^ Fournout, Vincent (24 January 2018). "Milene Guermont and the hand that caresses concrete". Toute La Culture (in French). Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  7. ^ Cateau, Julie (18 January 2018). "Milène Guermont, the artist-engineer who wants to make you love concrete". Ouest-France (in French). Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  8. ^ Pommier, Frédéric (4 November 2016). "La semaine culturelle du 31 octobre". France Inter (in French). Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  9. ^ Jack Guy (11 January 2021). "Champs-Élysées in Paris set for green transformation". Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  10. ^ Kim Willsher (10 January 2021). "Paris agrees to turn Champs-Élysées into 'extraordinary garden'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  11. ^ Nadja Sayej (29 January 2021). "Paris's Champs-Élysées is Getting a Major Makeover - But What Does That Mean for the Locals?". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 17 February 2021.

External linksEdit