Anne of Austria was the wife of Louis XIII. When she after 23 years of marriage – at the age of 36 - at last gave birth to child, a son, the future Louis XIV, she decided in gratitude to build a chapel as part of a Benedictine convent she had previously founded. It seems that the seven year old son laid the cornerstone in 1645. The Val-de-Grâce church stood ready in 1667. One of the two architects was François Mansart. The roof painting is by Pierre Mignard (who gave the name to “mignardise” – a French word for delicacy), close friend of Molière. He later became “first painter” of the Royal court.

The Benedictine convent was used as a military hospital during the revolutionary years and the church was one of the few which escaped from vandalism. It remains therefore as it was and is certainly one of the best examples in Paris of baroque architecture. To make sure to have the marble floor saved, a sacristan had it covered by plaster; it was rediscovered only some decades later.

After the Revolution, the convent was converted to a military hospital and it still is, although open also to non military. Large modern buildings have been added in the 70’s. The hospital is normally the one where the French top officials are brought in case of need.

The old convent buildings have been transformed to a museum (photos not allowed) for French army medicine. They also house the Army Medical School.


parisbreakfast said...

What a knock-your-socks-off picture that first one is!!?
And “mignardise”...who knew?
So many treats for the eyes in your posts Peter.
Merci beaucoup

Catherine said...

You've really done the beautiful architecture justice with this selection of wonderful shots... a building I neither know nor have visited in paris...sounds interesting...

rauf said...

History lessons with gorgeous pictures, i can't ask for more Peter.
Your blog is better than a book or a film documentary. Feel guilty of not visiting you regularly as i have been regularly irregular of late.

Revolutions have never solved any problems, actually made the situations worse than before. Common man continued to suffer. But perhaps things improved in France after a while.

hope you are doing well Peter. Right now a close friend of mine is visiting Paris.

Virginia said...

Oh Peter,
You know how special this beautiful place is to me. I photograped it many, many, MANY times from our apartment and attended services there twice. What a treat to see your special photographs as well. I think it's a church most tourists never see. I hope through your lovely photographs and text that they will now!

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Mein Gott! What wonder! These pictures alone can instill faith in a person!

Olivier said...

c'est un des endroits magnifiques de Paris, j'aime surtout ce grand jardin. belle promenade

Adam said...

Another hospital! I'll certainly come to you for information when I get round to doing my Historic hospitals walk!

Cergie said...

Mon fils Etienne a joué là la 9ème de Beethoven et Alexandre Nevski de Prokofiev avec l'orchestre symphonique du conservatoire de Cergy.
Great memory...

claude said...

Ta série de photos est magnifique. Que c'est beau ! Remarque c'est un peu normal, c'est à Paris....
C'est bien qu'Olivier aime aussi, en dehors des gratte-ciels de NYC.

Cezar and Léia said...

Hello dear Peter
These pictures are perfect, I learned about collages just with your posts, always trying to reproduce this kind of collage, and I like it very well because we can see several pictures and wonderful details by different angles!
This place is outstanding!

✿France✿ said...

Tout simplement magnifique encore
Un grand bravo

hpy said...

Est-ce que je peux y aller soigner ma grippe?

Anonymous said...

This is really heavy stuff and quite beautiful too. That last pic of the eagle reminds me of Germany in the 40s. The symbol that is.

The previous post with the lady selling stuff and a Dell computer reminded me of the price being paid a dozen years ago for dirty, worn out, blue Jeans. Buyers were coming around to our doors offering hundreds of dollars for certain kinds of old Levi jeans. I wonder if that also happened in Paris?

I think they sold them to buyers in Japan who were reselling them at fancy boutiques.

Thanks for helping me to make history.
Pick a Peck of Pixels

Karen said...

Thank you for this post and photos. This is close to the apartment where I'll be living so I must go see it. I've finished one book on Louis XIV and starting another so it will interesting to see a building still in original form from that period.
I leave later today and arrive on your tomorrow. I'll call when I recover from the journey.

lyliane six said...

J'y suis allée l'année dernière, vraiment bel endroit.

Ruth said...

It is utterly unfair, as my husband says. Every time we come over a hill or around a corner we see a new, beautiful edifice that we didn't know existed in Paris. How incredible. I haven not gotten farther south on my walk past the Luxembourg gardens. Next visite!

Mo said...

Great pictures and story. Something new to add to my knowledge and to visit next time

from cali said...

The building, interior and garden are magnificient. Wonderful photos, as usual! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hy Peter! I just want to say how sorry I am that we didn't meet in Paris. Silly me, I've written your number in a wrong way and than at the hotel the internet didn't work...oh, we were very sad not to meet with you. I really hope that next time we will finally meet!
Wayting to see more of your great photos!
PS: hope you like mine :)

Thérèse said...

Oui c'est beau: intérieurs et extérieurs... et que de détails. De quoi remplir des albums.

Anonymous said...

j'excuse parsque j'ai éliminé ton commentaire SANS PRÉMÉDITATION et je ne sais pas que tu erire.. excuse moi!!

Carole said...

Du grand Art Peter !
Bonne journée.

Alain said...

Le Val de Grace, on en parle surtout quand un homme politique a un malaise. J'ai bien peur que HPY ne soit pas assez célèbre (malgré la renommée internationale de son blog) pour s'y faire soigner.

alice said...

De l'intérêt de lever les yeux au ciel! Le terme "mignardise" revêt -me semble t-il- un aspect un peu mièvre, et pourtant comme c'est beau ici...

Claudia said...


Middle Ditch said...

Wow! No cost spared in those days. That first one is just amazing. What some beautiful buildings there are.

Unknown said...

F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!!! The first photo is absolutely gorgeous! Well done, Peter!

PeterParis said...

Di rien Carole! :-)

It was also MY first vist after 35 years in Paris! :-)

Yo be regularly irregular sounds charming! It took a few decades after the Revolution(s) before things possibly got better for a majority! Maybe THE Revolution could have been avoided if the parties had listened better to each other! There were some reasonable people around (also)! :-)

PeterParis said...

I know... I was alone in the church and almost alone in the museum part cwhen I visited! :-)

What kind of faith is perhaps the question? Faith in man's possibility to create beautiful things, for sure! :-)

C'est vrai; je n'ai pas montré le jardin - photos non très réussies! :-)

PeterParis said...

I bleieve that in the little area close to Val de Grace you have some four or five other hospitals! :-)

Les concerts dans les églises sont souvent formidables! D'avoir son fils qui joue... !:-)

Toujours un peu nostalgique de Paris! :-)

PeterParis said...

Of course the collages make small photos, but I feel that it's a way to give a more general impression, a feeling, an atmosphere. :-)

Un grand merci! :-)

Tu as quel grade militaire? :-)

PeterParis said...

Everything can become a collectors item. Should we save everything and hope for later good business? :-)

Nice to soon see you again! :-)

Tu vas partout! :-)

PeterParis said...

Yes, next visit! Soon I hope! :-)

Difficult to do it all! Same when visiting London! :-)

Frol Cali:
Nice to live at a place where you rather easily find such things! :-)

PeterParis said...

Yes, a real disappointment for me! So, next time!!! :-)

Les albums traditionnels manquent des fois! :-)

Aucun problème! J'étais très content de voir que tu vas exposer tes belle photos! :-)

PeterParis said...

Oui, du grand art baroque! :-)

Peut-être qu'elle a un grade militaire? Ça pourrait aider. :-)

En effet, on trouvait sans doute son art un peu "trop" et on inventait le mot. :-)

PeterParis said...

I guess we all agree! :-)

Middle Ditch:
Happy to see you here!
No costs saved... on certain items! :-)

T-H-A-N-K-S! :-)

GMG said...

Peter, it's incredible: Val de Grace looks even more baroque beautiful in your hands...

PeterParis said...

I always do my best! :-)

Marie-Noyale said...

Cette 1ere photo est absolument splendide.
Je n'ai jamis mis les pieds dans cet endroit...grave erreur!!

PeterParis said...

Erreur qui peut être corrigée! :-)

richard said...

That first picture certainly is a stunner.

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Unknown said...

Unfortunately, this church was always closed when we tried to see it.