Thursday, April 4, 2013

Homage to Napoleon Part II & My Second Favorite Museum in Paris

If you love Game of Thrones, you will like the contents of this post.  Sorry, this does not mean there will be nudity or gratuitous sex scenes herein.  Tragic, I know.

Literally only a few days until I leave for New York and while there are many more posts from Paris for me in my future - I will be returning soon I hope! - if there is one more I should squeeze out before the end of this trip, it's to close the loop on :  Homage to Napoleon Part I.  I figure if there's a Part I, it infers the publication of a Part II and the Type A part of me wants to get this done.

I am obsessed with this guy:
Oh Napoleon, if it weren't for the centuries, continents and all the other hugely divergent factors of our lives that separate us, we could have had something special!!
He was a born adventurer, conqueror and lover and he had the determination, the focus, the perseverance and most of all, the massive self-confidence, to do it all...every single entrepreneur or businessperson can be inspired by him!

Even though historians acknowledge the inconsistency of Napoleon's regime with the French revolution and libertarian ideals, everyone, EVERYONE in France idolizes him...he is their biggest national hero, he's George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Paul Bunyun & Bill Clinton all rolled into one.

Usually I have a lot of text with my photos but guys, honestly, I am so busy packing and trying to find a place in NYC that I'm not going to add much - you can read a synopsis of why I have a HUGE crush on Bonaparte here.

As befitting a monumental hero, his burial place is sublime.  He is enshrined at Les Invalides, a complex of buildings in Paris that are dedicated to:  military history.  It is awesome.  Come on, if you're a fan, at all, of Game of Thrones - and who isn't??!!! It's even huge here in France - or medieval history, you will LOVE the military museum, or Musee de l'Armee.  Next to the Louvre, it is hands-down my favorite museum in Paris.  I honestly recommend this museum over any others in Paris aside from the Louvre.  Here is an aerial short of Les Invalides.  The military museum is VAST, it will take you a couple of days to cover it all.  It is housed in the series of buildings you see to the left of the dome.  And the where Napoleon is buried.

Front of the military museum side of Les Invalides.  

Entrance to the main courtyard.  

Inside the courtyard.  
And then...the AMAZING exhibits, primarily from medieval times on the lower level.  It is the greatest collection of medieval European military paraphernalia in the world and it is stunning.  Military history is such a huge part of history and daily living - for hundreds of years, Europe was either at war, recovering from war or preparing for war.  Military gear, moreover, reflected art history and sociology:  the best artisans of the day serviced this sector - the shields, intricate suits of armor, later on, the pistols, etc. all reflected beautiful details which in turn functioned as a vast system of symbology, for example, depending on your social status, you would have different insignia and accoutrements.
There are literally 100s of full suits of armor and each piece is gorgeously detailed, look, even the horse's hooves are shod with special plates!  No wonder it cost so much to finance wars - just one suit of armor was prohibitively expensive, a regular serf could never afford one (let alone a war horse),  even a bona fide "knight" had to mortgage a lot of property to purchase this gear. And contrary to popular thought, people back then were not small, this guy here is more than 6 feet. 

Armor of a Japanese shogun & emperor - this exhibit was spooky...totally reminded me of Dragon, the movie about Bruce Lee.  Remember that?  No?  I'm so alone in my nerdness.  

Emperor Quanlong's military costume

Even the canons were beautiful works of art!

The walls of the building are covered in paintings...I'm telling you, this museum was surprisingly wonderful, you will love it!
Handle of a rifle.

Training armor for royal children.

Jousting gear. 

There's whole other levels dedicated to 19th-modernday military history...but I stopped here.  I literally spent hours just on the extensive bottom level alone and was mesmerized the whole time.

Now getting to the dome portion of Les Invalides (the Chapel of Saint Louis des Invalides) where Napoleon - the Elvis Presley of European military history - and other French military heros are buried.  It is colossal and breathtaking - I know I keep using superlatives but...I love it when I am surprised (in a good way) in life, and I was just stunned at how beautiful this museum is much to my immense surprise.

As you walk in, you see an underground open crypt containing Napoleon's tomb, it is surrounded by gods protecting their beloved.  

The dome of the chapel is right above Napoleon's tomb. 
Tombs of other military heros interspersed throughout the church.  
He died at only 51-years-old, in exile.

Napoleon's funeral carriage passing through the Champs Elysees (Arc de Triomphe in the background).
I've been thinking a lot about mortality lately, not in a morbid way, but in a hey-you-time-to-get-back-on-your-feet-and-make-your-dreams-a-reality kind of way.  At one time, 51 seemed old, but that's less than 20 years away and by my age, Napoleon had already conquered Europe.  I guess it's time for me to take on New York City??!! What are your dreams? How are you going about making them a reality??  I want to know!!

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