Results 1-10of 13 Reviews
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
July 29, 2010
From journal The most popular tourist destinations in the world.
by Lisa MacDonald
Cambridge, United Kingdom
January 6, 2002
A short walk from the Rodin museum is the Hotel des Invalides, a home for wounded soldiers built under the orders of Louis XIV. It became more of a shrine to Napoléon and those he was close to, complete with a massive tomb containing the remains of Napoléon himself.
Napoleon is encased Russian doll style, in seven separate caskets made of various materials. I read a quote from a writer saying that some Parisians felt that the seven caskets were constructed to ensure he never gets out again. It's an obscenely large tomb (42 feet high) for a man of such small stature.
Also buried in Invalides is his son (with the epitaph "King of Rome"), his brother, and assorted other military people that I know little about.
Les Invalides is interesting in its pomposity and grandeur, as another one of Napoléon's "over the top" monuments. Its massive gold dome is a stunning landmark seen from almost any vantage point in the city.
From journal A New Year's Holiday in Paris
Diamond Bar, California
June 21, 2005
What I did enjoy, though, was the building itself and the church. The building had the most interesting windows that were done up as suits of armor. There is also a large courtyard bordered with cannons and interesting astrological clocks. The church is actually divided in two. One side was for the soldiers and the other side was for the royalty. It was quite unique. Of course, there was also Napoleon’s tomb which was huge. He was originally buried at St. Helena, which is where he was exiled to, but he was moved back to Paris in 1840.
From journal Paris for Beginners
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
November 4, 2004
Built by Louis XIV, the Hôtel des Invalides is the largest architectural project of his reign after Palais de Versailles. It was built for his wounded soldiers, who previously had no option but to live by stealing if they refused to join the abbeys, and they were obligated to take them in.
The construction was undertaken by Libéral Bruant, who built the eastern half of the building on the Grenelle plain between 1671 and 1674. The first group of veterans moved in immediately. Before the western section was completed, Louis replaced Bruant with Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who built the double church of the Invalides. The Soldiers' Church, for the pensioners, opened in 1677. And the Domed Church, reserved for the king and his entourage, opened in 1706.
The Soldiers' Church can be entered through a gallery on the second floor of the main court. It has an austere barrel vault that is 230 feet long, without a transept. There is a custom of hanging captured enemy flags from its ceiling, a custom that dates back to the age of the Empire. The flags hung here all date after March 17, 1814; on this date, the allies entered Paris, and Marshal Serurier, then Governer of the Invalide, ordered the destruction of all trophies.
The Dôme was originally conceived as a mausoleum of the Bourbons at St. Denis, but had never been carried through. The complex, centralized design of the building allowed for optimal light. More than 27,830 pounds of gold (approximately 555,000 gold leaves) was used on the dome, with up to 10 master goldsmiths deployed in 1989 for the production. After December 15, 1840, when Napoleon's ashes were brought back to Paris, the dome became the mausoleum of the Bonapartes. The crypt is 20 feet deep, with an opening 49 feet in diameter; it holds the Emperor's tomb, which is made of Finnish red porphyry.
The central pavilion, with the entrance to the Invalides, is rounded in shape and is decorated with a carved pediment depicting the Sun King.
Pensioners lived in the ancillary buildings with ordinary soldiers, sleeping five or six to a room, whilst officers' rooms had one or two beds. Invalid pensioners had individual rooms in the infirmary. Ten years of military service was the requirement for admittance to the Invalides, and prayers and mass were compulsory. The building can accommodate up to 2,000 veterans, but had 3,000 in 1710, functioning almost as a small town!
After the return of Napoleon's ashes, the mausoleum began to take precedence over the soldiers' homes. Today, cannons no longer fire at the Invalides to announce great events, but it still has a modern surgical hospital and houses the museums of the Army, Relief Maps and Plans, and the Liberation.
From journal Paris, for All Seasons, All the Year Through
June 19, 2004
The military museum was packed with war artifacts including weapons and uniforms from France's history. My husband was very interested in the design of weapons and their progression, but I also was enthralled by the sense of history and how the items were presented. Initially, I thought it would be just a "guy thing", but it proved to be very interesting to the women in our party as well. It was a relatively narrow building with 2 floors of displays including a gift shop on the second floor.
After visiting the museum, we went through the complex toward Napolean's tomb where the cafeteria was located. We sat and had an average lunch of prepared sandwiches. This was a bit pricey, but the meal suited our needs at the time.
As we entered the domed building where Napolean's body lay, I was struck by how highly the French thought of him. We came in on the second level and looked down through the center of the rotunda to see the casket. It was enormous! The man was quite small in stature so I could just imagine how little a space his body would take up in such a huge box. It was very interesting to read some of the history plaques with information about Josephine and his brother. I was just put off by the arrogance shown in the building with its gold dome gleaming in the sun. Still, I would say this is a "must see" when visiting Paris just so you can say you saw it.
From journal April in Paris
New Delhi, India
August 1, 2002
Entering des Invalides, we first went to Napoleon’s tomb- a fairly imposing structure housed in a (to me, at least) rather dingy hall. Set in red porphyry, laid on a slab of green granite and consisting of seven coffins set one inside the other, the tomb’s at the centre of the room, atop a high pedestal which stands in a well. All around the room- on its walls- are friezes depicting Napoleon’s many deeds, with the emperor himself represented in each as the Emperor of Rome (?! A bit of a puzzle). Also around the room are the tombs of Napoleon’s marshals, including Foch.
Napoleon’s tomb doesn’t take much time to see, but the Musée de L’Armée does- if you want to do any sort of justice to it. Probably the largest and most impressive military museum in the world, it spreads out over two floors of des Invalides. On the ground floor is a gigantic collection of weaponry- dating from prehistoric arrowheads to swords, muskets, shields, armour, ensigns, uniforms, helmets, etc from across time and space- Mughal India, Turkey, Japan, Europe and elsewhere. There’s a massive medieval arsenal too, and in the central courtyards, cannons stand, with shells and cannonballs too.
On the first floor are pieces from World War I- paintings, photographs, uniforms, guns (including the famous Vickers gun), gas masks, and replicas of the vehicles used. Other displays include epaulettes, decorations and maps (including the original map used by Foch and Weynard in the French campaign- it’s been stitched and repaired across the middle). There’s also part of the fuselage of a Zeppelin; a bit of shrapnel; tiny tokens- crucifixes, daggers, etc made by soldiers at the front, most of them crafted from shell and other handy material. A lot of it really gave me gooseflesh.
Some items are of particular significance- the bugle used to blow the Armistice; the pens used to sign it; a muddy trench coat from Verdun; the original uniform worn by General Gallieni (who used taxis to take his troops to the front at the Battle of the Marne; these taxis, one of which stands at the entrance of the museum, later came to be known as Marne taxis).
From journal Paris in the Springtime
February 28, 2001
From journal Paris - Been There Done That Bought The T-Shirt...
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
February 25, 2001
Les Invalides is an architectural ensemble that takes up a huge block in the centre of Paris. It was originally built as a hospital for the retired soldiers - veterans of the wars during the reign of Louis XIV. It was built in 1674 and was ready to accept its first occupants. In 1677 the construction of the church building began which was finished in 1706 and it was then divided into the soldire's church and the cathedral of Les Invalides. By the end of 17th century this was the house of 4000 invalides that lived here as if it was a regular army. The buidling is a great example of the classicism architecture. The decorations of the cuppola of the cathedral are done in the form of war trophees. They were restored in 1989. There is a huge ceiling fresco that was also recently restored. In the middle of the cathedral you can see Napoleon's tomb surrounded by the tombs of marshalls and several Bonaparts. Originally Napoleon was not buried in Les Invalides but in 1861 his remains were transferred to the cathedral. The tomb stone is made of green granite with laurel wreath surrounding it and places of his biggest victories carved in stone. Bas-reliefs decorating the circular gallery show the main events from Napoleon's rule. In the middle there is a statue of Napoleon with symbols of the imperor.
There is also a large Army museum that has a big collection of weapons from personal collections of Louis XIII, Japanese weapons of XVI century, as well as weapons from most wars in the 18th through mid-20th centuries.
From journal Paris in May, Part II
February 17, 2005
From journal A Day in Paris
February 6, 2001
From journal Beguiling Paris