Thursday 27 June 2024

Le Duc on the Road XXIV - Les Invalides

L' Hôtel des Invalides was commissioned in 1670 by Louis XIV in order to provide accommodation and hospital care for wounded soldiers. In 1815, after Napoleon’s abdication, over 5,000 survivors of the Grande Armee were listed there. Napoleon inspected the place and visited his men in 1808, 1813 and 1815.

The chapel was built at the end of the 17th century by Jules-Hardouin Mansart and contains the tombs of Marshals of France (Including Vauban et al) and that of Napoleon himself. 

This formed the second 'major' tour during the trip to Paris avec ma fille during the aforementioned Operation Rat-on-a-Stick...

Now France is very proud of its military history; there were so many authentic uniforms and pieces of equipment on display here, that the overall effect was absolutely stunning. Unlike in the UK, where there are apparent (but usually quasi-political and thereby faux) concerns over military history or Empire, the French are proud of their history, no matter how black or white or with shades of grey, no matter how good or bad - it is history, and they recognise it as such.

This museum and chapel is absolutely stunning and a must see if you have even a passing interest in French or European history; the displays are superb, the quality unbeatable, and the staff very helpful . Highly recommended.

Some fantastic (and authentic) WW1 & WW2 uniforms and equipment on display. France does not muck about with worrying about this sort of thing. Superb displays.

Turret of a Panzer II amongst other equipment.

Business end of a V2

Moving into the '17th-19th Century' building (which we almost missed due to renovation :O ), excellent stories and display surrounding the Army of the Sun King

18th Century American expedition

Muskets...sooo many muskets

Turenne and his armour are displayed

...with maps of his last campaign

A certain Irish regiment - 'pre' Wild Geese era

You quickly realise that the Napoleonic uniforms, are, for the most part, NOT reconstructions or replicas - but actual uniforms from the period, well preserved

Sooo many sabres and blades

Again, the quality of the paintings and the ability to get close and see the brushstrokes - Davout looks on

...almost every French Eagle is on display, with regimental histories

Well preserved Revolutionary wars uniforms too

'Are you the Guard???!!!"

Some original pieces in poorer state of repair, including Napoleon's bicorne, have survived

I have so many pics from Les Invalides, that there may be other blog posts including them...

Later that day, the view from Montmartres Cathedral

...and the steps that Mr. Wick gets chucked down repeatedly in 'John Wick 4'

A superb trip. I'd recommend Paris to all...


  1. I reckon it is quite possibly the best military/war museum anywhere... and being in Paris just ups the attraction!

    1. Had been looking forward to it for years , yes Steve. Great city - and LEs Invalides makes it so clear that the French actually care about their history.

  2. A splendid report; thanks! Must get there one day! Definitely on my Bucket List...

    1. Definitely worth it David. There was nothing bad I could say about Paris in general. I get that there are some bad areas - but the centre is well policed, and the people very friendly.

  3. Yes great museum and indeed no 'guilt' displayed in their displays.