- FRANCE - PART ONE -

Hôtel des Invalides, Paris

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In 1670, Louis XIV founded LES INVALIDES (Hôtel des Invalides) close to what was then called the Grenelle Plain. It became home to wounded and disabled soldiers and funded by a five year levy on the salaries of soldiers serving in the army at that time. Building plans were drawn up by Libéral Bruant, and construction started in 1671. The complex eventually provided quarters for 4,000 ex-soldiers. Construction of the dome began in 1706. Designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, it was completed by de Cotte after Mansart died in 1708.

Les Invalides now consists of a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement containing museums and monuments, all relating to France's military history, as well as remaining as a hospital and a retirement home for a number of war veterans as well as a hospital for paraplegics.

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The dome of Les Invalides as seen from the Eiffel Tower. The roof of the Chapel of St-Louis is to be seen to the left of the dome.


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Shortly after the veterans' chapel (see below) was completed, Louis XIV had Mansart construct a separate private royal chapel, often referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. It was restored at great expense in 1989.

The chapel and its dome are centrally placed and dominate the Court of Honour. It was finished in 1708. Under the dome are the tombs of Vauban, Turenne, Foch, and others.

Immediately beneath the cupola is a red porphyry sarcophagus that covers the six coffins enclosing the body of Napoleon I which was returned from Saint-Helena in 1840 through the efforts of King Louis-Philippe.

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Surrounding the Court of honour are galleries containing various relics of war. The Army Museum is also situated in one of the buildings close by.

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The dome crowning the royal chapel is the work of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, and is a perfect symbol of the spendour Louis XIV sought for while he was king.

The Church of St-Louis des Invalides (left), whose construction predates the dome, is Hardouin-Mansart's work as well, and many flags stolen from the enemy were hung here as decoration.

Les Invalides in Paris, France consists of a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement containing museums and monuments, all relating to France's military history, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's original purpose.

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It is also the burial and memorial site of some of France's war heroes such as Jean de Lattre de Tassigny who died in 1952.


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The organ in St Louis' Chapel.


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