House Of Heritage: Inside Boucheron's Home In Paris
If walls could talk, those at 26 Place Vendôme would have a distinctly aristocratic accent. Originally called Hôtel de Nocé, this beautiful building was constructed in 1717 when the regal looking square was populated by France’s grandest men and women. Over the years, Hôtel de Nocé was home to the Crozat and La Tour d’Auvergne families (think tiaras and lots of titles) and the Countess of Castiglione, Napoleon’s badly behaved mistress.
By 1893, jeweller Frédéric Boucheron’s business was growing and he moved into Hôtel de Nocé, thereby becoming one of the first of the great jewellers to open a boutique on Place Vendôme, a square that is now one of the gem hubs of Europe. The building’s name was later changed to 26 Place Vendôme and it became the flagship of the brand. With its high-ceiling rooms and sweeping staircases, the historic house cossets all the savoir-faire and values of the brand, an apt home for the Boucheron spirit.
A new face
That home has just undergone an extensive, exacting renovation, a rebirth 125 years after Boucheron moved in. While the building has seen numerous facelifts of varying extent over the years, none has been as elaborate as this. While it still has everything under one roof—the atelier, jewellery workshop, stones department and a boutique—it’s now much more.
“The last time the building was renovated was over 15 years ago, and it’s seen its fair share of natural wear and tear; it was just about time,” says Hélène Poulit-Duquesne, the CEO of Boucheron.
“We also felt that there were aspects in its interior that weren’t supposed to be there and, by the same token, others that were missing, so we opted for a full renovation. But, more importantly, we did not want the renovation approach to be based purely on a retail concept; instead it had to be a patrimonial restoration.”
Boucheron tapped Michel Goutal, chief architect for France’s historic monuments, to supervise the restoration. Goutal’s previous projects include restorations at the Louvre, the Blaye Citadel and the Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux.
House of history
“Michel literally went through 300 years of history, diving into our archives, with the mission of restoring the building to its former glory,” says Poulit-Duquesne. Goutal’s 18-strong team for the project, which included 13 architects, was supported by dozens of highly skilled artisans specialising in bronze, wrought iron, gypsum and marble.
“His task was to rediscover the internal logic of a building modified by history, and to return it to a highly structured concept enabling the rooms to retain their character. The ambition was to recreate a truly exceptional private mansion.”
The building had been very much Boucheron’s family home in the early years and “we wanted visitors to feel this,” she explains. “It wasn’t simply a watch and jewellery boutique. It’s a place where our clients will be able to relax, browse leisurely, have a drink or even spend the night.”
A family home
To achieve this, the renowned French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who has worked on some of the most expensive luxury hotels in the world, joined the project. Rochon set out to challenge the codes of traditional jewellery stores, opting instead to tell the story of a grand old family home.
As a result, the decor of each room is a curated blend of contemporary design, modern and historic works of art, and vintage finds. Through this delicate balance, Rochon enhanced the aesthetic of a house that has been kept in the family for more than a century, with each generation leaving its own imprint.
In this new incarnation, the studio and high jewellery workshop are adjacent to the reception rooms, and the central apartment is designed as a relaxing space in which clients can eat, drink and even sleep. Hence 26 Place Vendôme is far from a simple boutique; it’s a place where clients can enjoy a unique experience of Paris, one that breaks with ordinary retail convention.
“The renovation coincides with our 160th anniversary, which was the perfect time to show that a spirit of freedom still reigns over the house,” Poulit-Duquesne adds. “Frédéric Boucheron was an innovator, a man who swept all before him, fundamentally free and independent. We are perpetuating that.”
Discover more at boucheron.com