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  • Writer's pictureParisian Niche

The Medici Column in Paris...

P'Niche has just flown back from Paris (and boy are her arms tired - gong!) Joking aside, le décalage horaire (that's jet lag to you and me) is real, so this week's post will be brief, but a nod to something I only discovered this last trip. Paris really is an unending journey of discovery! Let's take a quick P'Niche peek to learn more...



To start, this column was built at the behest of Queen Catherine de Médici (P'Niche PSA: It's pronounced Cat-reen duh Meh-dee-see en français).


Very briefly, our girl Kate was an Italian born noblewoman who was married (arranged, as one did) to King Henry II (making her reign as queen of France from 1547 - 1559). She bore to him three French Kings - Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III. In fact, so tight was her control over the kingdom that the years during which her husband and sons reigned was aptly titled the "Age of Catherine de Médici." Wow - who runs the world? Kate, it seems! Her reign was not always smooth, met with much political and religious upheaval. That said, one thing she relied on heavily was astrology - using it as her guide through her years as La Boss Babe.



In fact, many people think that Kate had the column built as an homage to her late husband Henry II, who (as predicted by Nostradamus) was assassinated.


Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus to you and me) was a French born astrologer, healer, seer, and apothecary). He was a worker of the dark arts (black magic) but many attest that several of his more important predictions (The Great Fire of London, The French Revolution, Napoleon's reign, the rise of Hitler, as well as both World Wars.

There is certainly no way to be sure, but he had/has many devotees and Catherine de Médici was among top fans.



That said, while she had faith in Nostradamus' words, she had a stronger belief in her childhood friend, Cosimo Ruggeri's, tellings, which is why most believe that the spiral staircase was installed in the column, so that he could climb and read / consult the stars for more accurate predictions.


Also working in the occult, Ruggeri correctly foretold that Catherine's three sons would reign as king and also correctly stated the lengths of their reigns (with the use of an enchanted mirror, no less!) Get this - he even predicted Kate's death in a terrifying manner - yikes! More soon, so we hope you will subscribe to Parisian Niche to join us back later to learn more.



Ok, back to the column...


Designed and built by Jean Bullant (in 1575) at the queen's command, the column rises to 28 meters (92 feet) in height.


With 147 steps to the top (which used to have glass atop, but now is framed by iron), P'Niche is so curious - what exactly was he looking for and/or did he see?!




Bullant's column is fluted (in the ancient Greek style) and was the first free standing column erected in Paris.


At the top of the column is found a perfect square with each corner's sharp edge matching the four directional points on a compass.


The column is actually *not part of a larger plan that queen had to construct a new home - l'Hôtel de Soissons, although the column is indeed connected to it.


The building was used as the Bourse de Commerce (Commodities Exchange) for some time, but since 2021 serves as the exhibition site of the Pinault Collection and it worth noting that the building and dome were listed as historical sites in 1862.


At the base of the column is your run of the mill French info plaque (P'Niche jest, as she lives for these types historical touches). On this one, I especially love the nod to Paris' motto, fluctuat nec mergitur, though she is tossed in the waves, she is not sunk (she being Paris).


Want to check this out? Great! Honestly it's best to pair it with your visit to:


Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection

1, all. Baltard (75001)


Métro: Les Halles (Line 4)

Louvre-Rivoli (Line 1)

Chatelet-Les Halles (RER A, B, D)


The Pinault Collection (more info soon!):

2, rue de Viarmes (75001)

Monday - Sunday: 11am - 7pm

Closed Tuesdays

Fridays - late opening until 9pm


Info on the Pinault Collection is here.



What say, P'Nicher? Have you seen this unsung gem already, or plan to make a quick visit to this astrologer's dream?  Let us know in the comments below et à bientôt!


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Debra Borchert
Debra Borchert
Mar 13

Can't wait for your follow up on Kate!

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chrissy
Mar 22
Replying to

this is going to be a FUN one to research, I also cannot wait to "dig in" merci! :)


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