Sunday, January 1, 2023

Les Invalides

by Cindy Kay Stewart

Deposit Photos

In the summer of 2022, I was blessed to take a research trip to Europe with fellow blogger Rebecca Davie. We visited many cities and areas where my works in progress (books) are set. 

One of the places we visited was the Hôtel des Invalides (English: "house of invalids") or Les Invalides in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris. French monarch Louis IV built the extensive complex to provide a hospital and retirement home for French veterans. Although these services are still provided on a small scale today, the buildings are primarily utilized for several museums and memorials dedicated to the military history of France. Two WWII museums are housed at the Invalides, so we spent the better part of a day viewing the exhibits but also couldn't resist visiting Napoleon's tomb.

Dôme des Invalides

Napoleon's ashes reside in an elaborate tomb made of red quartzite, resting on a green granite base.

Napoleon's Tomb

The Dome above Napoleon's Tomb

The Museum of the Order of the Liberation

The Musee de l'Ordre de la Liberation contains three sections - the Internal Resistance, Free France, and Deportation. Dozens of artifacts, including uniforms, stories of Resistance members, British transceivers, and many other items used in the fight for liberation are on display.

After Nazi Germany crushed France, the French government of Marshal Petain signed the armistice, allowing part of the country to be occupied. General Charles de Gaulle, who had led a command during the Battle of France, fled to Britain and, over the BBC radio in London, called for France to continue the fight. Some Frenchmen who hadn't been evacuated by the British or captured by the Germans took up the call and found a way to escape to England to join de Gaulle. Others stayed in France and participated in the Resistance. French women volunteered as well.

In July 1940, de Gaulle established Free France, a military and political organization supported by Winston Churchill. "Between 1940 and 1945, the Free French forces fighting on the land, on the sea, and in the air distinguished themselves on several continents by maintaining France's presence in the world war." ("Discover the Permanent Collections of the Museum of the Order of the Liberation" pamphlet distributed by the museum)

The Legion of Merit Medal

President Harry S. Truman awarded the Legion of Merit, one of the highest distinctions of the American armed forces, to General de Gaulle on August 30, 1945 for leading Free France in the fight alongside the Allies.

The Deportation section of the museum details the Nazi regime's concentration camp system across Occupied Europe. "Victims were mainly resistance fighters, politicians, people who refused to work, and people rounded up in reprisals." Seventy-four thousand Jews were transported from France to extermination camps with most assassinated upon arrival. The Nazis also deported 70,000 people from France for slave labor, many of whom died of hunger and exhaustion. 

The Army Museum

The Musée de l'Armée contains many artifacts from France's wars. The section on WWII contains many interesting items.

WWII Bombs

American Light Artillery Piece

German Underwater Mine

A U.S. Army Soldier's Kit

Dies and Stamps for Producing Forged Papers and Leaflets

A Fake Identity Card

Internment Camps in France (Expand bottom left key for descriptions)

The German Cryptographic Machine - The "Enigma" - used to transmit military 
information by code, which was cracked by the Allies


Information on display and in print at Les Invalides

Pictures taken in person by the blog post's author


These true, heartwarming stories portray the love and bravery shown by many individuals who risked their lives to save those in danger and help win WWII for the Allies. Some found themselves at the mercy of their conquerors but managed to escape. Others sacrificed their lives. From snow-covered Norway to Japanese-occupied China, from remote northern Russia to the flatlands of Belgium, larger than life stories give credence to the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. 

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Cindy Kay Stewart, a high school social studies teacher, church pianist, and inspirational historical romance author, writes stories of hope, steeped in faith, and grounded in love. Her manuscripts have won the Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers Touched by Love Award, ACFW’s First Impressions contest, the Sandra Robbins Inspirational Writing Award, finaled in the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award of Excellence and the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Awards, and semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer's Genesis contest. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of forty-one years. Her daughter, son-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren live only an hour away. Cindy’s currently writing two fiction series set in WWII Europe.


  1. Wow! Thank you for posting today about your incredible adventure! Happy New Year, and I look forward to more sharing about your museum wanderings!

    1. Thank you, Connie, for being such a faithful reader and commentor on our blog!

  2. Loved this trip with you! Great post and and summaries of those museums. Still hard to believe the volume of people affected, even after seeing the exhibits and reading your words. Heartbreaking.