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Les Invalides

Metro : Invalides - Latourg-Maubourg - Varennes

    The Esplanade des Invalides strikes due south from Pont Alexandre III and provides a functional 500 m of grassy area, intersected by roads and edged by trees and boules terrain. The wide façade of the Hotel des Invalides, topped by its distinctive dome, resplendent with gilding, fills the  whole of the further end of the Esplanade. It was built on  the orders of Louis XIV as a home for wounded soldiers, and part of the building is still used for this. Under the dome are two churches : one for the soldiers, the other intended as a mausoleum for the king, but now containing the mortal remains of Napoleon.
    Both churches are cold and dreary inside. The Eglise du Dome, in particular, is a supreme exemple of architectural pomposity. Corinthian columns and pilasters abound. The inside of the Dome is covered w
les invalidesith paintings and flanked by four round chapels containing the tombs of various luminaries such as Marshal Foch and Joseph, Napoleon's older brother.  Napoleon's sarcophagus, of smooth, red porphyry, in sunk into the floor and enclosed within a gallery. Fiezes on the wall depict Napoleon sporting a laurel wreath and toga and addressing his subjects.  The captions display awesome conceit : "Co-operate with the plans I have laid for the welfare of peoples"; "By its simplicity my code of law  has done more good in France than all the laws which have preceded me" ; "Wherever the shadow of my rule has fallen, it has left lasting traces of its value."
    The Hotel also houses a couple of museums, the larger of  which is Musée de l'Armée, France's vast national war museum. The exhibition, displayed over several floors and wings,  start with ancient weapons and armoury, including François 1er suit of armour and some beautifully  decorated oriental  war outfits.  In the east wing, the history of the french armed forces is documented via  its uniforms and weaponry, while  in the south-westerly wing, a new three-floor section on  World War II had recently opened. Battle tactics, the resistance and liberation are documented through the usual maps and displays, but it's the reels of contemporary footage (english translation available) that are the most stirring.

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