Place de la Madeleine

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Eglise de la Madeleine

Located between rue Royale and Tronchet, Place de la Madeleine gets its name from the church which dominates the square. The rectangular square was designed around the shape of the collossal monument. Napoléon 1st had the church built in 1808, commissioning his architect to design a temple ressembling the temple of Mars Ultor to commemorate the Grande Armée’s victories. After the army’s losses in Russia, the project was dropped and there was talk of turning the building into a railway station. It was finally opened as a church in 1845 without any alterations to the ancient temple aspect. 52 columns (spreading 350 ft long by 140 ft wide) were added to support the 100 ft high roof. Although the square was initially very plain to make the monument to stand out, changes occured over time - first a row of lime trees were added, followed by a flower market, fountains and kiosks to today’s underground parking facilities.

The square is reputed for good food. Marcel Proust had an unforgettable memory of the square thanks to the famous madeleines he mentionned in his novel In Search of Lost Time (Remebrance of Things Past). This is also where Auguste Fauchon decided to open his first luxury grocery store in 1886 offering delicacies from only the best producers. The original shop is still there at number 30 and was fully renovated in 2005 to offer customers an improved experience among the multitude of carefully selected produce. To extend the luxury delights in the image of the brand’s historical debuts and values, Fauchon opened a hotel in 2018. Guests are invited to experience pure French art de vivre and can sample produce at any time of the day or night. Maison Hédiard is only a few feet away. It has been closed since 2014 and is still undergoing work as the brand decided to fully renovate the shop which will obviously be splendid once finished. Master chocolate-maker Patrick Roger’s outlet is there too, plus a Café Pouchkine, caviar from Kaspia’s, the Maison de la Truffe and the Mariage Frères tea shop. In 2018 a major plan was launched to rearrange the famous site where the best of French gastronomy is centred and much loved by city dwellers. The future square will include more pedestrian areas, wider pavements by the façades, cycle paths, a  majestic fore court for the Church and above all, more vegetation.