Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 74, Les Invalides (2), Paris, France

Okay, we are now passing the Palais Bourbon, a palace located on the left bank of the Seine. It is the seat of the French National Assembly, the lower legislative chamber of the French government.
We are actually towards that Place de la Concorde...

Wait a minute...Marti wants to know what is that....with a shiny dome?

behind the Palais Bourbon, you can see Les Invalides.
This is a complex of buildings in the city's 7th arrondissement containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's original purpose.

The buildings house the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France's war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte!

Yes, its where Napoleon's tomb is!

Napoleon Bonaparte I had been exiled to the island of St Helena in 1815 and it was there that he died on 5th May in 1821 and was buried close to a spring, in the place known as Geranium Valley, where his remains stayed for almost 20 years, until 1840.

It was after seven years of negotiation with the British government that King Louis-Philippe of France obtained permission to bring back Napoleon's remains from St. Helena to rest in peace in France.

19 years after his death, on 8th October 1840 the coffin was exhumed and opened for a couple of minutes to check that his remains were inside and apparently, those present claimed that his the body was still perfectly preserved.

The coffin was transported back to France by French sailors under the Prince de Joinville's command on board the frigate called La Belle Poule and upon its arrival at Le Havre was then transported up the River Seine to Paris where it landed at Courbevoie.

And despite harsh winter weather, there was a state funeral held on 15th D
ecember 1840 with the hearse travelling from the Arc de Triomphe down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and across the Place de la Concorde to the Esplanade and finally to the cupola in St Jerome's Chapel where the coffin stayed until his tomb was constructed.

The tomb was only commissioned by King Louis-Philippe in 1842 and was the responsibility of the architect Visconti, who even had excavations done within the church to host the tomb, and the body of the Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte I was eventually laid there to rest on 2nd April 1861.

There is also a statue erected at the back of the crypt of the Emperor that bears the imperial emblems.

The tomb was crafted out of red porphyry imported from Russia and was placed on a green granite base from the Vosges area. It is circled by a crown of laurels and inscriptions that are permanent reminders of the great victories of the Empire.

So where is the tomb?
Aaah, there is its...the tomb itself is very impressive and the unusual very well thought out design means that we must bow to get a good look since the tomb is situated on a level lower than the visitor's viewing site!!!

Even in death, the man commands respect!!

Ok, we are now crossing over to the right bank of the Seine as we head for the infamous Place de la Concorde! Do you know anything about this place Sita?

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