You can see it from far away when you are in Paris. It’s difficult to miss its high golden dome.
Its esplanade will host archery during the Olympic Games of Paris in 2024.
We can wonder what roles the Hôtel des Invalides has had for 350 years ?
It’s an extraordinary place, which is a strong symbol for the Army and the veterans of France.
Nowadays, Les Invalides is a hospital and a hospice for the victims of war and attacks. It hosts numerous associations which help them and which support their memory. It’s also the place where national funerals take place. It’s a military necropolis, a church, a pantheon of the military glories and it hosts museums such as the Musée de l’Armée (the Museum of the Army) and the Musée de La Libération (the Museum of Liberation).
The Hôtel Royal des Invalides was built during the reign of Louis 14. Its first function was a military hospital which could host the victims of those who fought for their nation. The King wanted the injured soldiers to be welcome in a place especially made for them. They used to be hosted in abbeys but most of the time, they did not stay and became homeless in the streets of Paris. Louis 14 wanted to give a better image to the French Army.
In 1706, the Royal Chapel was inaugurated. Its golden dome was the highest monument in Paris before the Eiffel Tower was built.
In 1789, the building was broken into by revolutionaries who needed weapons before going to the Bastille.
In 1800, the building became a necropolis. Napoleon decided to put the tomb of Marechal de Turenne, leader of War during the reign of Louis 14, under the dome of Les Invalides.
In 1821, the tomb of Napoleon 1st was put in the building. The tomb of other important leaders of the French Army were put there as well, as a recognition of their bravery.
In 1905, the Musée de l’Armée (the Museum of the Army) was created.
In 1914, at the beginning of the First World War, the taxis of the Marne had to pick up the soldiers at Les Invalides to go to the battlefields of Eastern France.
In 1940, the German troops settled down in Les Invalides. Georges Morin and his family helped allied pilots to leave. They were deported after having been denounced.
The Chancellerie de l’Ordre de la Libération was created by Charles De Gaulle in 1965. He wanted to give a reward to the people who resisted and helped for the freedom of France. Since 1970, there has been a museum called the Musée de la Libération, which pays tribute to the resistants.
L’Hôtel des Invalides is visited by many tourists every year. Its history is fascinating. It is the place of the brave soldiers but also of the citizens who fought for the freedom of their country. It is a fundamental place not to forget the past and the duty to remember.