The Hotel des Invalides, founded by Louis XIV to shelter 7,000 aged or crippled formed soldiers.
This church is part of a large establishment built to house disabled veterans. Although it is generally classical in style, particularly in the rectilinearity of the lower facade, the church does have some Baroque elements. There is a dynamic movement toward the center, which culminates in the central pediment.
In the chapels of Saint-Louis are the tombs of Napoleons brothers Joseph and JÈrÙme, of his son and of the marshals of France. Immediately beneath the cupola is a red porphyry sarcophagus that covers the six coffins enclosing the body of Napoleon I, which was returned from Saint-Helena in 1840 through the efforts of King Louis-Philippe. Napoleons uniforms, personal arms, and death bed are displayed in the rich MusÈe de l'ArmÈe (Army Museum) at the front of the Invalides. Fewer than 100 pensioners now live at the hospital, which is used as a paraplegic centre.
The grassy, Esplanade des Invalides (810 feet wide) slopes gently for 1,410 feet to the Quai d'Orsay and the Pont Alexandre III. The first stone for the bridge was laid in 1897 by Alexanders son, Tsar Nicholas II. A steel span with upper works of stone, it embodies the Gay Nineties, la Belle Epoque, solid, sumptuous, and luxuriant, with its pomposity mocked by its own gaiety. Finished in time for the International Exposition of 1900, it leads to two faded souvenirs of that years fair, the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. Both are still used for seasonal painting salons and major visiting art exhibits, and the Grand Palais also shelters overflow classes from the Sorbonne and a science museum.