Les Invalides, Paris

Douglas Johnson examines the powerful hold Les Invalides exercises over France's historical mythology.

Louis XIV should not be associated exclusively with Versailles. He was responsible for one of the finest buildings in Paris, Les Invalides, or, as one should say, I'Hotel des Invalides. Not only is it a magnificent creation. It was one of his acts that has always been received with enthusiasm. Montesquieu, writing in the eighteenth century, said; 'There is no institution more worthy of respect than the Hotel des Invalides. If I were a prince I would rather have founded this institution than have won three battles'.

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