Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paris Day Two: Hotel Invalides and the Dome Church

After going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, we headed to L 'Hotel National des Invalides (the National Residence of the Invalids, aka Hotel Invalides). "Founded by Louis XIV, this was the first military hospital and home for French war veterans and disabled soldiers who had hitherto been reduced to begging. The decree for building this vast complex was signed in 1670, and construction, following the designs of Liberal Bruand, was finished five years later. Today the harmonious Classical facade is one of the most impressive sights in Paris, with its four stories, cannons in the forecourt, garden and tree-lined esplanade stretching to the Seine." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris page 187.) Today it serves as an impressive French military museum, the Musee de l'Armee.
I must admit that the child-sized armor disturbed me. Yes, I understand that young boys began their military training quite early. But as we stood in front of this window, I was struck to see Emma's reflection against this armor. The armor would fit Emma, and this wasn't the smallest set. It made me feel so sad. 
Anyway, there was a lot of really cool stuff in this museum, too. I really liked seeing the changes in military uniforms over time.
The weapons were also pretty cool. The cannons totally reminded me of the teeny cannon my brother had when we were kids. 
I took a ton of museum photos, and I'm pretty sure they'll bore you before too long. So I'll just post a few of my favorites without much blah blah blahing.
I know this one is rather hard to see. Emma loved "listening centers" as she called them. She could read the language selections, and she kept choosing French because she thought it sounded pretty. She stopped at every one of these centers and listened to the presentations in French and acted like she totally understood what was being said. 
This is a bust of King Louis XVIII. 
A bit of this...
...and a bit of that.
I enjoyed the WWII rooms. They reminded me of my dad, which is always a nice thing. :)
This gun turret hung from a B-17, which is what my dad flew in WWII. Hmm. It looks like a Star Wars weapon. It also looks like the pod/ship/whatever-it's-actually-called that the young Spock flew in the recent Star Trek movie which, by the way, I loved. (Yes, I am a total nerd and am happy to be! And I'm pretty sure that Christy will know exactly what this thingy was called in Star Trek.)
This is a bust of General Charles de Gaulle. The Wiki scoop on him is too long to type but makes for interesting reading. You can check it out here.
This is one of the courtyards. It was the perfect spot for Emma to have some "kid fun" before we looked at more "super old stuff," according to Emma. See the gold dome in the background? It's part of the Dome Church.
This is the main entrance to the Dome Church. "Jules Hardouin-Mansart was asked in 1676 by the Sun King, Louis XIV, to build the Dome Church among the existing buildings of the Invalides military refuge. A soldiers' church had already been built, but the Dome was to be reserved for the exclusive use of the Sun King and for the location of royal tombs. The resulting masterpiece complements the surrounding buildings and is one of the greatest examples of 17th-century French architecture. After Louis XIV's death, plans to bury the royal family in the church were abandoned, and it became a monument to Bourbon glory. In 1840 Louis-Philippe decided to install Napoleon's remains in the crypt, and the addition of the tombs of Vauban, Marshal Foch and other figures of military prominence have since turned this church into a French military memorial." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris page 188.)
This is the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparts's older brother, Jospeh.
Napoleon's tomb is beautiful. I acutally find the history of Napoleon Bonaparte to be quite interesting. If you have a few minutes, click here to read his story.
The dome ceiling "shows the Glory of Paradise, with Saint Louis presenting the sword to Christ." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris page 188.)
This was taken from the front entrance. You can see the Eiffel Tower in the background.
A not-so-funny thing happened to me in Hotel Invalides. So, I really had to use the bathroom. You know the saying: when you gotta go, you GOTTA go! So the girls and I walked around and around and around looking for the "toilette." Let's just say that the information desk attendant, who spoke perfect English, was not gifted at giving directions. We finally found our way to the "toilettes" only to discover that we needed coins to use them, which we didn't have. Did I mention that I really had to go? So off I went in search of a place to exchange euro bills for euro coins. By that time, I really, REALLY had to go. I eventually found my way back to the toilettes, only to realize that the coin receptors were broken and we really didn't need the coins at all. Ugh. After we used said toilettes, we were thankful that we hadn't paid to use them as they were DIS.GUST.ING. Call me crazy, but when I pay to visit a museum, I expect a moderately decent toilette. Enough said. Rant over.

That's it for today. A bientôt (see you soon)!

1 comment:

Christy Lynn said...

The armor exhibit in the Tower of London said that the child-size armor was more for display and painting portraits, not for actual use in battle, so maybe that will make you feel a little better about it.

Also, Spock's ship in the last Star Trek movie was called the Jellyfish :)