Sunday, 30 September 2007

Hotel des Invalides

Dev and Christine came to Paris on their whirlwind trip around the world and I managed to catch up with them on Sunday. We went to the Hotel des Invalides and the Musee de l'Armee (The War Museum) before they had to head back to Orlean. The Hotel des Invalides was built in the 1670's by Louis 14th to provide housing for about 4000 disabled war veterans from his many battles. It was here that a Parisian mob forced their way in, stole 32 000 guns before heading off to the bastille and the start of the French Revolution.

The big dome here at the front is the aptly named Dome Church, which was built in 1677. In 1989 this dome was re-gilded using 12 kg of gold, it is a pretty big dome. But the real reason why it is famous now is that Napoleon Bonaparte's final remains are now here. They were moved from th island of Saint Helena to Paris in 1840. The fact that it is Napoleon who rests here over any other famous French person just shows you how much the French must really love him. I suppose he did unite Europe under his command, which is not bad work.
Inside the church is his tomb, inside of which are 5 successive coffins, tin, mahogany, two of lead and then ebony. The red stone is a single block of Finnish red porphyry. Even his relatives got some pretty nice tombs, though no-where near as impressive as Napoleon I's

Behind the Dome Church is the Hotel des Invalides proper which has been turned into the Musee de l'Armee and it was one of the best War Museum's I have ever been to, many because it was the first one which actually explained properly what caused the First World War (France and Germany just hated each other and were looking for an excuse). I'm definitely going back there to have a real good look at the First and Second World War exhibit. It is all in French, English and German too, which I thought was pretty good, means I'm not just restricted to looking at the pictures for once.

There are a whole stack of sections to the War Museum, the main one is the first and second world war stuff, but there is also a section on armoury, so there are heaps of weapons and suits of armour. There is also a museum to the French resistance, but I didn't really see much of that one. Another, much stranger, section is the relief map museum. It's all by itself on the very top floor on what appears to be an abandoned wing of the building and you walk into this very dark, cold room. Inside this one room are all these scale models of cities and islands and they were made from 1668 onwards, these then became the royal collection of relief maps. They are pretty boring as it just looks like some warhammer-er person has had way too much time on their hands making their little battlegrounds.

1 comment:

Malka said...

Keep up the good work.