Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paris, October 2009, A Visit To Invalides

It was a drippy day in Paris today, but a bit warmer due to the cloud cover. We believed it would be a great idea to spend the day inside, so after going out for our "petite baguette" and having a breakfast of a bit of bread, yogurt, fruit and granola, we took the Métro from our neighborhood in the 15e to the 7e where we bought tickets to see the Army Museum at Invalides.

What a treat! We saw well-preserved relics of sabers, swords, armor, cross-bows and other items of war, including a tank and cannons, that were incredible. It was especially interesting to see how items of war changed from the early 16th century out of necessity and in light of improvement in weaponry. In this respect, as guns were developed the use of sabers, lances, bows, and swords diminished. The huge displays of weaponry were remarkable and although the weapons signified war and death, they also represented amazingly beautiful (if you will) works of art--especially those items especially made for royalty or honored military leaders.

As Americans, we were especially surprised by the use of art in the manufacture of weaponry. Many weapons were incredibly elaborate and bore ornate carvings of figurines of animals and humans, as well as personal identifications--all of which were made using expensive ivory, silver, gold, jewels and the like.

Not only were the relics impressive but so was the building and it's architecture.

Of great beauty was the eglise built to house the remains of many important warriors, including Napoléon, the first emperor of France, and his love Josephine, to name a couple. The fresco paintings and ornate altar were colorful and impressive, as was the beautifully designed marble flooring.

Visiting this monument is well-worth the eight euro price of admission. We spent three hours inside and learned a great deal about the French military history.

By the time we finished our tour, we were hungry and foot weary, so we sought out a Métro station that would carry us back to the 15e where we planned to stop at the newly renovated Café du Commerce for a bite to eat. By the time we got there, the busy lunch time was ending and we nearly had the place to ourselves. We enjoyed one of their delicious pizzas, a plate of pomme frites (french fries) and a pichet of red wine, while we relaxed and chatted for about an hour and a half.

It was only a short walk from the cafe to our apartment and we were more than delighted to shed our heavy "going out" attire in exchange for some comfy kick-back clothing. We're now looking forward to a quiet evening at home and another spectacular day tomorrow!

I hope you'll enjoy the following pictures. It was difficult to take good pictures as we were not allowed to use flash, but I think you'll get the idea.

Emperor Napoléon's Resting Place

The Immaculate Grounds Of The Invalides

This Triple-Barrel Pistol Is An Innocent By-Stander's Nightmare!

The Impressive Entrance To Invalides

The Gardens At Invalides, Colorful Even Though It's Fall

The Invalides Architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart

The Exquisitely Carved 15 foot Angels Who Encircle And Watch Over Napoléon

The First Emperor Of France, Napoléon's Tomb

The Stunning Altar At The Upper Reaches Of Napoléon's Tomb

Josephina's Tomb

The Dome Interior, Napoléon's Tomb

This Is What A French Platoon Might Look Like, Even Children Wore Armor & Fought

Art And War, Very French!

Pistols & Rifles Became Works Of Art Using Silver, Ivory, Jewels and Gold

Arsenals Replaced Swords/Lances And Hence The Need For Armor

Wealthier Regions Of France Created Ornate Cannons

Early Armor Of A Chevalier--They Fought For The Church, Widows & Orphans (Not much protection!)

Armor Used During The Rein Of Henri III

This Armor Designer Was Influenced By The Design Of The Ottoman Armies

A Display Of Early Armor Used By French Soldiers

This Picture of Captured Polish Soldiers Was Used As Propaganda By The Germans To Demonstrate Their Strength In Capturing Enemy Armies

Some Cannons Have Design Features, Such As These Carved Handles

The Interior Courtyard Is Lined With Relic Cannons

Even The Door Entry To Les Invalides Has Carved Relief Atop It's Face

Just Inside The Door To Invalides You'll Find A Canon, A Hint Of What Is To Come

The Dome of The Eglise At Les Invalides

Next Post: More of Paris!

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