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Visiting The Musée de L'Armée

Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
with Jökull Gislason

If you find yourself in Paris then the Musée de L'Armée is well worth visiting. Situated in the L’hôtel des Invalides, just a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. I was lucky enough to be travelling with my family in Paris this autumn and since it was my birthday I decided to take some me-time after spending a wonderful morning with the family at the Eiffel Tower and pay a visit.

The Eiffel tower is a fitting start for the journey for it stands on the Champ de Mars or the Fields of Mars as in the Roman god of war. On one end there is a statue of Foch and the other end there is a statue of Joffre, both Marshalls and heroes of the Great War.

Left: The Eiffel Tower.
Standing 324 meters tall, the Eiffel Tower cannot fail to impress and I recommend you walk at least between the two floors just to get a better feel for the sheer scale. From there it is about a half an hour’s walk to the L’hôtel des Invalides. Originally built as a hospital and retirement home for the soldiers of France, it still serves this purpose in part but most of the building has now been converted to the impressive Musée de L'Armée which covers almost all of the military history of France.
Below: The L’hôtel des Invalides. Below: Napoleon's statue looks over the great courtyard.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Below: It begins with Chivalry and the Knights of old.
Below: These progressed with the invention of gunpowder.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Below: There were exhibitions of more exotic weapons and armour.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
However impressive these old pieces of armour were, I was slightly pressed for time and my interests lay with the two World Wars. Also it felt like I was looking at the great paintings; after a few rooms it started to feel similar. So I walked off to the First and Second World War exhibitions.
Below: The Renault FT.
Below: A 75mm mle 1897 gun.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
The first thing I saw was my old friend the Renault FT, a veteran of both wars. This exhibition starts right after Napoleon III and the years leading to the Great War and here another old friend was seen, a 75mm mle 1897 gun.
Below: Off to the Great War. Below: One of the many taxis of the Miracle of the Marne.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
The museum makes good use of dioramas to help bring history to life. This is always interesting to a wargamer such as myself.
Below: Examples of some of the featured dioramas.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
On to the World War Two exhibits. The part about the Fall of France is only a small exhibit; understandably the French feel little need to dwell on their defeat.
Below: A 25mm SA-34 Hotchkiss gun.
Below: The turret of a Panzer II.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
There were no tanks on display, only two turrets. I imagine that the old hospital isn't built to carry such large and heavy vehicles.

From there you are led year by year through the conflict. Charles de Gaulle is given plenty of attention as the leader of the Free French cause as are the different theatres of war, including Russia and the Far East. Again the use of dioramas and models was extensive and there was a good selection of uniforms and weapons.

Below: A Renault R-35 turret.
Below: A display featuring Charles de Gaulle.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Below: More dioramas. Below: A French legion display.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Below: A Renault UE carrier.
Below: An aircraft carrier in the Pacific.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Below: A German 3.7cm PaK36 anti-tank gun. Below: Assorted small arms from various nations.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Below: A display of American equipment. Below: An American 105mm howitzer.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
The Musée de L'Armée may not have the big tanks but it is still an amazing place to go to. The war history is well displayed through personal arms, uniforms, photos, maps and dioramas. I was more than satisfied. But there was one place I had still to go. Napoleon's tomb.
Below: Anti-tank weapons on display; the Bazooka and the Panzerschreck. Below: Napoleon's tomb.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Here the remains of Napoleon were brought from St. Helena in 1840 and laid to rest in a great tomb of red quartzite. The tomb is on two levels, the viewing level and then you can walk into the crypt and around the tomb. In letters around it eight of Napoleon's victories are written on the floor.
Below: Another view of Napoleon's tomb.
Below: Napoleonic era muskets.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Below: More dioramas and maps this time showing off Napoleon's antics.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
This is a very solemn place and other heroes of France are in side halls of the main tomb.

After this exhabit, I had intended to return to my family but I had to look at the last exhibition from Vauban to Napoleon III, but in reality for the most part about Napoleon Bonaparte. Actually my interest in wargaming started with the Napoleonic Wars. I have studied military history now for about 35 years and I have found that all my studies are like a great mosaic, which now have just forming a bigger picture, but I still have a lot to learn.

This last part of my visit was rewarding as well and a most fitting tribute to Napoleon.

Below: Some of the artwork on display. Below: Uniforms on display.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
Below: A set of duelling pistols.
Below: The great man himself.
Visiting The Musée de L'Armée Visiting The Musée de L'Armée
The French have a very proud military heritage and the Musée de L’Armée is like a time machine through their history.

For more information on Musée de L'Armée in Paris go here: http://www.musee-armee.fr/en/english-version.html

~ Jökull.


Last Updated On Monday, February 10, 2014 by Blake at Battlefront