Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Paris, day 3, Les Invalides

Ratatouille and charcuterie for breakfast – but there was some rhubarb jam on our table, so I couldn’t resist that and a croissant. And lots of lovely French coffee.

Took the Metro to Les Invalides – then we misread the map and ended up walking past the Assemblée Nationale (French parliament).

Quick reverse, and we turned the corner… and how could we have missed that golden dome when we came out of the Metro?

It was originally built by the Sun King (Louis XIV) in 1670 to house invalid soldiers and part of the building continues to do so today; much of it is now the military museum.

We were blown away by l’église du Dôme (i.e. the building crowned by the golden dome we’d noticed from so many high points in the city).

The roof of the cupola is beautiful.

In 1840, Louis-Philippe ordered Napoleon’s remains to be brought to Paris from St Helena and arranged for a tomb to be built; the tomb was finally completed in 1861.

There are 12 statues surrounding the tomb, each symbolising one of his campaigns. I was quite moved by the inscription: I wish my remains to lie near the bank of the Seine, in the middle of the French people whom I love very much (rough translation).

In one of the niches outside the circle of statues, there’s a statue of the emperor himself.

There’s also a memorial tablet to the last survivor of the French First World War troops, who died in 2008, and a lovely monument to Marshall Foch.

From there, we saw a film about Charles de Gaulle (and I was really shocked to discover that French women couldn’t vote until after the Second World War) and went through a superb multimedia area. We also saw Napoleon’s horse Vizir (complete with brand).

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