Catherine of Medici's strange column
Near the Stock Exchange, The high column (31 metres) is really a curiosity. The legend said that Catherine of Medici raised it for her astrological experiments. Oh, she was fond of astrology!
In fact, we found a house here, on the location of the current Stock Exchange: the hôtel de Nesle (13th century), where Jean of Luxembourg then Louis, duke of Orléans lived. The future king Louis XII gave a part of the land to a convent (Repentant Ladies' convent) before Catherine of Medici turned up.
What did she do? She expelled sisters! Instead of the old town house, she raised a vast and nice residence. Nowadays only remains... the column! The legend said that Catherine astrologer, Cosimo Ruggieri, observed the sky here... But in the 18th century, Paris city decided to destroy the house with the column!
A man called Bachaumont, who was fond of antiquities and art, owned and gave them to the city. They accepted on one condition, that Bachaumont get his money back! Between 1763 and 1766, when they raised the Stock Exchange, the column was transformed into a fountain.
Inside of the Doric column, there’s a small staircase: at the top of it, a big sphere flanked by circles and semi-circles. In the past, the column was decorated with fleurs de lis, crowns and interlacings. We still see Catherine and king Henri II’s monograms, C and H.