Today the golden dome and majestic esplanade of Les Invalides can been seen from miles around, making it one of the defining landmarks of Paris. But once this was the Grenelle district, where cattle grazed and vegetables were harvested. Louis XIV commandeered that rural idyll to build France’s first official residence for impoverished old soldiers, transforming a quiet village into one of the city’s most fashionable districts. Soon a military academy and the Champs du Mars followed, ready to train future regiments. As the centuries went by this former suburb became a desirable address for mansions and museums, crowned by the iconic ironwork of the Eiffel Tower itself.
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