We took the Metro to the Cite, and strolled along the Seine. Here to the left is the first glorious view we saw, the Conciergerie.
Once a medieval palace, this gorgeous abode along the river became a prison during the Terror of the French Revolution. Here, Queen Marie Antoinette spent her last days. You can visit her small cell and see the others where many were crammed into tiny spaces and given only straw on which to sleep. Truly a miserable place then, the building now is a treasure trove which you should put on your list of places to visit.
Walking along the same boulevard in the other direction, you come upon Les Invalides. built by Louis XIV for his soldiers, this hospital turned museum houses the most wonderful collection of medieval armor and endlessly entertaining halls devoted to World War One and Two.
|The entrance to Les Invalides is huge with wings on both sides!|
Behind this is the Dome where Napoleon and many other French notables are buried.
|Entrance to Medieval Armor exhibit at Les Invalides|
|A Taxi of the Marne!|
Among the items I appreciated most is this red taxi, circa 1914. In September 1914, the German Army advanced very rapidly on Paris. The French Army was dispersed elsewhere and when the movement of the Germans was detected, the French rail lines, poor in number and quality, could not transfer troops quickly enough to meet the advance. A call went out from the French command to rally all the taxi cabs in Paris. Thousands lined up outside Les Invalides and with dozens of French soldiers clinging to the sides, off the taxis went to Meaux.
That town today has the most wonderful museum devoted entirely to the commemoration of La Grande Guerre. Accessible by train from Paris, you need to catch a bus for a five minute ride. Well worth your effort to go, you will make friend with the bus driver who will work with your poor French to show you his delight you have made the effort to come!
Behind Les Invalides is the Dome where Napoleon is buried. So his brother and a few other French generals of other wars.
But the most heart-rending is the tomb of General Foch, last commander of the French Army during La Grande Guerre. His casket is carried by a representative of each branch of the French military, each with their heads bowed. During this conflict, the French suffered terribly as did millions of others. Long regarded as the most tragic conflict, many historians now consider it to have been the most avoidable. Do visit this remarkable memorial to the man who led the French to final victory and peace.
(Return for more travels in the Cite! Part II!)