This department of medieval arms has been renovated in 2005 and with 2500 m2 has now one of the best collections in the world after Vienna "Hofjagd-und Rüstkammer" and Madrid (now transferred to Toledo) (ref. my reviews of these museums).
The new circuit of visit evokes the military history of France between the 13th and the 17th century, combined with thematic spaces about the productions of the big European workshops in Milan, Augsbourg and Innsbruck in the 16th century, the suits of armours of joust and tournaments, the weapons for hunting, the oriental weapons. Most spectacular are the suits of armour of the French kings in the Royal room - Crown Collections. This former dining hall gathers together prestigious pieces from French and foreign royal collections of ornate weapons from princely arms manufacturers
This department is really worthwhile visiting.
Open: 10 - 17 h from 1/10 to 31/03
10 - 18 h from 1/04 to 30/09
Closed: 1st Monday of each month (except July, August, September).
Price (2013): combined ticket Invalides 9 € 50, reduced 7 € 50, free less than 26 years old. Includes entry to the Tomb of Napoleon, Army museum, Relief Map museum and Museum of the Order of Liberation.
NEW: Spectacle sons et lumière "La Nuit aux Invalides" 18/04 - 7/05/2013
Hôtel des Invalides is a huge complex of 17th century structures built by Louis XIV as combination hospital and pension for injured or retired military personnel. It also has two impressive churches: Église du Dôme and Église St-Louis des Invalides.
The smaller and older of the two, Église St-Louis des Invalides, is a light and airy confection where recovering soldiers and elderly veterans housed in the dormitories worshipped. It was plundered of costly religious adornments and secularized during the French Revolution but revived under Napoleon I for bestowment ceremonies of the first Légion d'Honneur badges; the highest decoration in France. Today, the chapel honors military officers interred in a crypt below the sanctuary. Don't miss the gorgeous and very large organ high above the north end of the nave.
Adjoining the soldier's chapel - but separated by an ornate baldachin, altar and sheet of glass - is the somber and considerably more stately Dome Church. Not keen on mingling with masses, Louis had the Église du Dôme built exclusively for royal worship and as a future mausoleum for himself and his family. Didn't happen. Like its neighbor, Église St-Louis, this also became the final resting place of French military heroes; one in particular who draws the biggest crowd.
Napoleon I died in 1821 on the island of Saint Helena where he'd been exiled after his defeat at Waterloo. In 1840, King Louis Philippe I was granted approval from the British to have the remains exhumed and returned to France. This was carried out with much pomp and ceremony - although they weren't above prying open his multiple coffins and taking a peek to make sure it was him. According to this fascinating narrative (link below) the former emperor looked pretty good for being dead a couple of decades.
Upon being returned to French soil, he was given an elaborate funeral and placed in a side chapel of the church until a more grandiose crypt could be constructed. It took another 20 years to excavate and decorate the circular well directly under the gold-plated dome where his coffins - all 6 of them - lie encased in a massive sarcophagus of red, Russian porphyry. Around the tomb are a dozen winged figures symbolizing his military achievements. For company his son, Napoleon II, and two brothers, Joseph and Jerome, are buried in other areas of the church as well as WWI Marshall Ferdinand Foch, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle - composer La Marseillaise - and many others.
Entrance to the churches is covered under the Paris Museum Pass as well as three other museums in the complex we didn't visit: Musée de l'Armée, Musée des Plans-Reliefs and Musée de l'ordre de la Libération. Otherwise, see the website for hours and ticket prices (click dropdown in upper right of the home page for multi-lingual translations.)
The Invalides are in my opinion one of the most beautiful architectural complexes of Paris. Approaching by the Seine and the Esplanade or by the back from the south, with the Dome, a great harmony of proportions emanates from the Hôtel des Invalides. The architect Bruant was appointed by Louvois secretary of War under the reign of Louis XIV.
The wall in the front part of the garden is surmounted with ancient guns showing a beautiful green patina (photo 1). From the gate the visitor has a fine view on the whole frontage with the top of the gilded Dome above the roofs.
The garden aligns tubes of old guns. The sight towards the Seine and the Grand Palais in the axis of this gun (photo 2) whose back represents a head of smiling lion is superb.
The interior courtyard is at the same time sober and elegant (photo 3). Tubes of guns are aligned on the sides. Under the arcades stand an old gun on wheels (photo 4). The Invalides is since 1871 also an Artillery museum.
As for the back of the Invalides, the Dome Church is magnificent. The architect was Jules Hardouin-Mansart under Louis XIV (photo 5).
Open: 10 - 17 h from 1/10 to 31/03
10 - 18 h from 1/04 to 30/09
Closed: 1st Monday of each month.
Price (2013): combined ticket Invalides 9,50 €, reduced 7,50 €, free less than 26 years old. Includes entry to the Tomb of Napoleon, Army museum, Relief Map museum and Museum of the Order of Liberation.
Inner courtyard: free
Les Invalides constituent à mes yeux un des plus beaux ensembles architecturaux de Paris. Que l'on s'approche par le côté Seine, par l'esplanade, ou par l'arrière, par le Dôme, il se dégage de l'Hôtel des Invalides une grande harmonie de proportions.
A l'avant plan se détache le mur surmonté de quelques cannons à la belle patine verte derrière lequel s'étend le jardin qui ouvre une belle perspective sur l'ensemble de la façade (photo 1) due à l'architecte Libéral Bruant choisi par Louvois ministre de la Guerre de Louis XIV.
Au dessus des toits se détache le Dôme avec ses dorures. Le jardin aligne des tubes de canons anciens. La vue vers la Seine et le Grand Palais dans l'axe de ce canon (photo 2) dont l'arrière représente une tête de lion grimaçant est superbe. Depuis 1871 se trouve ici le Musée d'Artillerie.
La cour intérieure est à la fois sobre et élégante (photo 3). Des tubes de canons sont alignés sur les côtés. Sous les arcades se trouve une belle pièce d'artillerie ancienne sur roues (photo 4).
Quant à l'arrière des Invalides au sud, la vue du Dôme n'a pas son égal en Europe à mon avis. C''est l'architecte du Roi Louis XIV Jules Hardouin-Mansart qui réalise la grande église royale en 1676 (photo 5).
another for history and religion done to fame by Napoleon to care for his soldiers and he lies there too. It began on an idea of king Henri IV which the affaires serious to do several edits or orders from 1597 to 1606. He finally decides to put the invalides soldiers in two buildings, one the Christian charity of faubourg Saint Marceau ,and the house of one Lourcine ,where the installations today are a empty space next across from the church of Val de Grâce. Later Cardinal Richelieu,after the siege of La Rochelle in 1624 propose to king Louis XIII to follow the idea of Henri IV, creating an establishment for the invalides. He has them lodge at the château de Bicêtre , and creates an order in their favor under the commanderie de Saint Louis.
King Louis XIV approves the proposition of Louvois and his collaborators and on a decision done on April 25 1670 allows for the invalides soldiers cannot be the only recourse of the Church and takes responsability for their care. Louvois reaches out to the order of Mount Carmel founded in 1608 by Henri IV ,and together with the order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem already founded in the Holy Land, at the service of the lepers and sent to France when the kingdom latin of Jerusalem falls.Advised by Louvois, king Louis XIV will revive the order and gives them military gifts of heritage like that of Saint-Sépulcre, as well as the sick and lepers put together in the hospital , Hôtel-Dieu ,and other places of prayer such as was not insured by the edit or order of December 1672. Louvois takes charge and become the vicaire general of the order of grand masters, Charles de Nerestan. The money collected from Louvois efforts allows the king Louis XIV to finally create an royal institution for the invalides and house them in a mansion ,one of the most majestic of the kingdom. While the mansion is built the invalides are housed at a vast house or gite located in the rue du Cherche-Midi, not far from the Red Cross building ( Croix-Rouge).
king Louis XIV,that his mother and wife were Spanish princesses, was inspired in founding the Invalides on his maternal relative king Felipe II of Spain while founding the San Lorenzo del Escorial. This palace/monastery founded on the site where Saint Laurent was martyr. A the same time the INvalides as the Escorial has a honor reserve to a church, here evoque by Saint Louis, king of France (Louis IX) . So it is like this that inspired king Louis XIV,to do the Hotel des INvalides no like a hospital but ,also, a monastery.
The king call the priests of the Mission, congregation founded in 1633 by Saint Vincent de Paul ,and on which were given the service of the royal chapel of Versailles. A ruling was done that their obligations as priests to the chapel but also to render service to the invalides. This is the story, and now you know what is there.Cheers
The Saint-Louis Church of the Invalids has something unique in Europe by the fact that the building is double: the nave constitutes the Church of the Soldiers, while the chorus, under the cupola, is called the Dome. Up to the Revolution, the two churches used the same high altar. The distinction was concretized by the installation, in 1873, of a large window separating the two parts.
There is presently a marked contrast between the Church of the Soldiers with a clear and sober décor (and few visitors) and the much visited Dome with the tomb of Napoleon and its magnificent marble decors but there exists an architectural continuity particularly visible from aerial views.
The architect was Jules Hardouin-Mansart who produced in 1680 the final design for the Dome des Invalides, a Greek cross inscribed in a square with an attached circular presbytery. It is a highlight of the French classical architecture and a point of reference in the Parisian landscape culminating at 101 meters. In 1989, at the time of the bicentenary of the French revolution, the dome was regilded with 550.000 sheets of gold, i.e. more than ten kilos.
The Saint-Louis church (presently a cathedral) was completed in 1679 and intended for the worship and the daily offices of the disabled army veterans.
Another unique characteristic is the fact that the vault is decorated with military trophies of France, and contains the tombs of Marshals of France, important military chiefs as well as many governors of the Invalides.
Saint-Louis des Invalides is attached administratively to the museum of the Army and is today the seat of vicariate to the French Armies and used each year for commemorative masses among which the mass remembering the death of Napoleon I.
The Organ built by Alexandre Thierry in 1679 is famous but was repaired and modified on several occasions. It is in this church that the world's première of Hector Berlioz's Requiem was given in 1837.
Open:10 - 17 or 18 h. Entry is free.
On our way to STOP 3, the Bus took us pass a colossal complex known as the HOTEL DES INVALIDES.
We immediately decided we would alight at the next stop and have a look at this complex.
We were on the Les Cars Rouges Bus, so thought it would have a stop nearby, but this WAS NOT THE CASE!
The nearest stop was the previous [stop 2] or at the Louvre, [stop 3], quite a walk when you have problems walking. So we had to alight at stop 3 and walk back quite a long way.
The L'Open Tour hop on/off Bus, had its stop right there!
Louis XIV, the Sun King had this building built between the years 1671 - 1676, as accommodation for disabled, wounded, homeless and impoverished war veterans.
He declared to build "a royal hostel that would be large and spacious enough to house all officers, crippled, old and retired alike". The ‘pensioners‘ began arriving in 1674, before the building was completed in 1676. Up to 4,000 war veterans were housed here. I wondered what they thought when they saw this magnificent building, I bet they were goggle eyed!
A church was built and later became known as the Soldiers' church, as they were required to attend the daily mass here.
The Hotel des Invalides is now home to several museums:
One is a large military museum located on both sides of the cour d'honneur. It covers military history from the early Middle Ages to the second World War.
The Relief maps Museum displays detailed scale models of French fortresses and fortified cities, going back to the 17th century.
Lastly, the Museum de l'ordre de la Liberation is dedicated to the liberation of France in the Second World war and to its leader, general Charles de Gaulle.
1 Oct - 31 Mar: 10am to 5pm
1 Apr - 30 Sep: 10am to 6pm
Closed the first Monday of every month, and 1 Jan , 1 May, 1 Nov, 25 Dec.
How to Get There
RER: Invalides - line C
Metro: Line 8, Latour-Maubourg or Invalides
Metro: Line 13 Saint-François-Xavier or Invalides or Varenne
This building is recognized as one of the most prestigious monument in Paris.
If you are catching the same company Bus as I did, it is closer to alight at Stop 2. I have put a link to the map where all the stops are located.
Even if you are not going to visit any of the Museums at the Hotel Des Invalides, I suggest you enter the The Cour d'Honneur, the largest courtyard out of the 15 courtyards in the complex. The large courtyard, is surrounded by arcaded galleries and has many interesting sculpted garret-windows. They all are different.
It is in this square that great military parades and important weddings took place.. You can walk around and see paintings and the doors to the old dormitories and many statues of important Military People
As you enter the courtyard and look towards the church and the dome, you will see a bronze statue of Napoleon Bonaparte standing on the second story, you would swear he is still looking over his troops!
Remember to look up where-ever you walk around this complex, as there are many wonderful carvings and statues.
I thought this was a very impressive Church.
The dome was built between 1679 and 1706, it magnificently crowns the building.
It is recognized as the finest dome ever built in France. In 1989, 12 kilos of gold was used to regild the Dome for the bicentenary of the French Revolution.
The beautiful facade has Greek columns, statues of Charlemagne and St. Louis decorate the niches of the lower levels and on the level above stand Strength, Justice and Temperance with Prudence.
You can visit inside, IT IS NOT FREE.
Beneath the dome is the recently restored large fresco depicting St Louis handing his sword to Christ. The Dome Church is a Military burial place where you find the tombs of Joseph and Jerome Bonaparte. In the crypt itself, is the tomb of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte I.
The tombs of several other military leaders like Turenne, Vauban and marshall Foch are in this Church.
The Dome is closed every first Monday of each month.
Open from April 1st to September 30th 10am to 6pm
June 15th and September 1st from 10am to 7pm.
Open on those public holidays :
Easter | Easter Monday | 8 May | Ascension Day | Whitsuntide | Whit Monday | 14 July | 15 August | 11 November
Independant tour : 7 Euros.
Same ticket as for the rest of the Hotel des Invalides.
5 Euros for students under 26yrs, seniors groups (15 persons minimum over 60yrs), retired soldiers.
HOW TO GET HERE....
District : Saint-Germain-des-Prés / Musée d'Orsay / Montparnasse
METRO...La Tour-Maubourg Varenne Invalides
RER : Invalides
Bus : 82, 92
On the top floor of one wing of Les Invalides there is an unusual museum showing twenty-eight large relief-map models that were made starting in the seventeen century showing fortifications and fortified towns at a scale of 1:600. The earliest of these was made on orders of King Louis XIV in 1668.
The relief maps were intended for use in planning military strategy in case of a siege or battle in one of these areas.
The museum has preserved 260 of these elaborate models, which were made between 1668 and 1873, though for reasons of space only twenty-eight are on public display. The lighting is purposely very subdued in order to protect the exhibits.
Next review from June 2012: Le Recrutement
Although this department of the Army Museum is entitled “The Two World Wars”, it actually starts in 1871 with the defeat of the French army in the Franco-Prussian war. Several large paintings show soldiers dying in agony on the battlefield in that war. A text panel explains that this sort of painting was popular among French civilians but not in military circles.
The agony resumed in the First World War, shown for example in this exhibit (first photo) of the overcoat of a French officer who died in the trenches. Nearly a century later, the mud of the trenches is still on his coat.
Second photo: The army started using bicycles and automobiles more or less simultaneously in the early twentieth century, though it took a long time before they completely replaced the traditional horses. The Clément company manufactured both bicycles and automobiles for the army, as shown in this advertisement.
Third photo: A portrayal of this period of history would not be complete without reference to the French colonies, which still existed in many parts of the world. There is even an exhibit on the infamous (but at the time very popular) Colonial Exhibition of 1931, which I have written about in several of my tips starting with the one on the Palais de la Porte Dorée, which was built especially for that exposition.
Fourth photo: There are also detailed exhibits on the Second World War, including the German occupation of France and Hitler posing in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Fifth photo: This large photo shows what was left of a French railroad yard after the bombings of the Second World War.
Next review from June 2012: Musée des Plans-reliefs
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