Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Statue at Ecole Militaire (Military school)

In the 7th arrondissement, at the end of the Champs de Mars, you will find a superb building called l'école Militaire (Military School). It was built by architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel between 1751 and 1768 and it became, in 1777, the Academy became l' Ecole des Cadets Gentilhommes. And, guess what?! Young Napoleon Bonaparte was a cadet in 1784! By the way, the statue you can see here is of another famous French army man; the Maréchal Joffre, who played a large role during world war I.


  1. Thank you for the picture. I took a picture but forgot what the building was. I live near a circle in Florida that was used for Military students to march. It was called Military Circle (now gone) but nothing as elegant as your picture. J.

  2. Eric -- From what I know of World War I, I would have thought Foch a more likely candidate for the honor accorded Joffre in your photo.

    Is this something you can comment on?

    -- phil

  3. Gee what a question !

    Well, in fact Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) is famous (and believe me he has a lot of statues, streets, monuments and stuff everywhere in France) for having signed the German rendition at the end of the war. But what is less known of him is that he is also responsible for numerous deaths (ie 700 000 men in July 1916!)

    Joseph Joffre (1852 – 1931) is also responsible for many deaths but he is famous for having contributed to an important victory – the one of “La Marne” - by requisitioning all the Parisian taxis to bring soldiers to the battle fields!

    Hope that helps!

  4. Eric -- In other words, a statue to Joffre is no slight to Foch, since he is honored in so many other places.

    I recall reading of "Poppa" Joffre that, regardless how close his decisions came to losing the war to Germany in the first two years, he was still the only man who could have saved France during that time (e.g., the Miracle of the Marne).

    I do believe I could spend many hours contemplating that statue were I there...

    Merci pour la perspicacité !

    -- phil

  5. > Je vous en prie Phil!

    > Rock. Yes, Napoleon is considered as a national hero by most French I think.

    On the one hand he is the symbol that France could at some point very powerful (he built an empire that included Northern Germany, Italie, Hollande and Belgium!).

    He also passed many laws that we still use today (and quite surprisingly for a dictator - for let's face it he was a dictator! laws on freedom: of work, civilian equity...)
    But on the other one hand he is reponsible for many deaths ie roughly 900 000 people according to several historians which, at that time, was a lot (40% of the army and 3% of the French population!)

  6. Eric, you're a great historian (and you know how to use Internet !!!)

  7. > Isido. LOL. I am a lousy historian but yes, I am an expert at Google!!

  8. for napoleon, it may not be a hero, but let's say the man is quite impressive. he is responsible for many deaths indeed, and then he lost at the end, and died miserably on an island [they apparently just discovered that he might have been poisened by arsenic]. so i guess that's why he is not so much of a hero - but he makes me think of grandeur, that's for sure. and hey, have you seen the invalides ? who in france has a more beautiful tomb than his ? no surprise that his "coffin" actually looks like l'arche perdue...

    i guess he is ou alexander-the-great...

  9. Forgive me if this is offtopic! but it is somewhat related. I am desperately looking for an image of another monument at the Ecole Militaire and to learn the name of its sculptor. It is a memorial monument to the students of the school who died in WWI and was dedicated by Marechal Foch. The figure is of Winged Victory, wearing a helmet, her arms and wings spread wide and holding laurel branches. Many thanks, Tom in New York