- Paris 7th
The INVALIDES is a huge ensemble. Different parts
constitute this monumental ensemble. The most famous of the four
museums housed in the Hôtel National des Invalides, the Army
Museum displays a complete collection of military history and war
art. The visitor is invited to discover the major technical advances,
weapons and arms from the Palaeolithic period up to World War II.
A special retrospective is devoted to the two world wars
Its in 1671 that Louis XIV decides the
construction of a hotel-barrack for war invalids. He
creates l'Institut National des Invalides that houses up to 4000
people. This was the idea of the king:" let's not cut out of
the world, those who served the nation so well). But instead of
the first planned barrack, the architect Bruant builds an immense
severe but harmonious façade, making it one of the greatest
achievements of the reign of Louis XIV. As the hotel is built far
from the Seine shore, Robert de Cotte organizes a splendid esplanade
in 1704 (500 meters long, 250 meters wide.
The wrought-iron access gate opens a view on flower-beds towards
the hotel des Invalides with its dome and the church Saint-Louis.
Penetrate now in the " cour d'honneur" (court of honour)
of the hotel des Invalides, very austere, with as only decorations
the sculpted garret-windows. It is in this square that great military
parades and prestigious bourgeois weddings take place. Look around,
at one side, the Musee de l'Armee, at the other side, Musee des
Plans-Reliefs. In fundum, the church Saint-Louis.
Cour d'honneur Invalides
The MUSEE DE LARMEE occupies the two sides of the cour dhonneur,
it one of the richest in the world. It exposes harnesses, uniforms,
swords, old rifles and other arms, of which the rapier of Francois
1er and the martial equipment of Henri II. A section is dedicated
to WWI and WWII. For this last war a lot of testimonies and documents.
(Quote Routard de Paris): you can see the original edition of "Mein
Kampf". Also an incredible nazi propaganda leaflet trying to
demonstrate that the dollar paid the Jewish war and discovering
the proof on the bill itself! Moving section the clandestine press,
fake papers, etc... Terrible photographs of the Pathology museum
The MUSEE DES PLANS RELIEFS with 24 remarkable small-scale models
of fortresses and fortified cities in French history (Mont Saint
Michel, Belle-Ile, Ile de Ré, Oléron, Bayonne, Perpignan,
Chateau-dIf, Antibes, Iles des Lérins
on the 4th floor. Last time I was there it was in renovation.
But now its time to have a peek in the Eglise Saint-Louis
and the famous Dome des Invalides where Napoleon was transported
from Sainte-Hélène. But thats for next article.
Vie et histoire des arrondissements de Paris,
ed.Hervas, 1985-1988, 20 volumes- Le piéton de Paris, by
L.P. Fargue, ed.Gallimard 1997Rive Gauche, une expérience
unique, by Cl.Evrard, ed.Albin 1991-Dictionnaire historique des
rues de Paris, by J.Hillairet, ed.Minuit 1985, Guides du Routard
1998-99, ed.Hachette, Napoleon, by Jacques Bainville, ed.Rencontres.
INVALIDES, LA TOUR MAUBOURG
Hôtel National des Invalides
Esplanade des Invalides
Tél. : 01 44 42 37 72
Daily 10 a.m. to 4.45 p.m. from 1/10 to 31/03.
Daily 10 a.m. to 5.45 p.m. from 1/04 to 30/09.
6 Euros; Concessions : 4.50 Euros.
Free under 12.