Ecole Militaire Paris

Ecole Militaire Paris is a historic building complex within the city center, where today, different types of French army training facilities are located.

École Militaire, or “Military School” in English, was established by Louis XV in 1750, from the suggestion of Marshall of Saxony…

…when the Marshall had noticed severe deficiencies in the French military training, during the events of the 1748 war.

That suggestion became supported by the King’s personal council (and mistress) Madame de Pompadour, as well as financier Joseph Pâris.

From Pâris’ suggestion, the main focus of the new educational facility became to educate a total of five hundred cadets from poor backgrounds, every year.

Ecole Militaire Paris France

PHOTO: A view to the “Château” part of the Ecole Militaire Paris, as seen from Place Joffre, located between the building and the Eiffel tower Paris France.

Joseph Joffre equestrian statue Ecole Militaire Paris France

PHOTO: The equestrian statue in front of the building depicts Marshall Joseph Joffre, whose role in the military leadership of France was significant during the events of the First World War.

The military school building was designed by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel.

For the planning process, King Louis XV gave Gabriel instructions to make it “bigger and finer” than the nearby Hôtel des Invalides (built by King Louis XIV).

Construction work commenced in 1751, with the first graduation class of cadets (200 participants) enrolling in 1756…within a only partly finished building.

The building was completely finished in 1780…and as a much more modest version than what was envisioned by King Louis XV.

Count de Saint-Germain reorganized the school in 1777, restarting it under the name “École des Cadets-gentilshommes“, “School for Young Gentlemen” in English.

The young Napoleon Bonaparte started education at the “École des Cadets-gentilshommes” in October, 1784, graduating in one year, instead of the standard two years.

The school did not, however, last beyond the death of its founder, King Louis XV, and the place was closed in 1787.

The building found new role, first as barracks and then as a warehouse for the imperial guard until 1878…when it was reopened as a educational military institution, the “l’ École Supérieure de Guerre”.

The role of this new military school was expanded in 1911, when it was joined with the French Advanced School of Military Studies .

Furthermore, for the period 1951-66, Ecole Militaire Paris also housed the NATO Defense College, nowadays located in Rome, Italy.

Today, Ecole Militaire Paris buildings provide facilities for…

  • Collège interarmées de défense, and
  • Institut des hautes études de défense nationale (IHEDN,www.ihedn.fr).

The main military school building, located a short walk from the Eiffel tower, is architecturally very interesting.

On the main facade, surrounding the emblem of Louis XV, from left, you can see an allegory of victory…

…with King Louis XV draped in ancient clothing and a female “France” figure dressed in an ancient cloak.

On the right side of the facade, there is an allegory of peace..

…with a vigilant rooster on its feet, standing next to the character for “Hercules”, in turn symbolizing power.

Overall, the architecture of the central Château building has derived a lot of inspiration (especially for its four-sided dome) from the style used at Louvre Paris France.

From the Château, you can find…

  • a grand staircase,
  • a guard room (containing a bust of Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne),
  • a hall called “des maréchaux” (“the marshalls“, where Napoleon Bonaparte had his headquarters in 1795, 10 year after graduating from the school),
  • a chapel,
  • and a library.

Of the artworks inside, notable are:

  • paintings by Jean-Baptiste Le Paon,
  • Boheamian style chandeliers, and
  • bronze decorations by Philippe Caffier.

On the cour d’honneur, the inner courtyard, you’ll find several attractive features.

Among the cour d’honneur highlights is a clock by royal clock maker Jean André Lepaute.

The clock contains a young, bare breasted female figure, said to resemble (very closely) Madame de Pompadour, “the most beautiful woman in Paris“.

Apart from the bare-breasted female, the clock also contains an old, bare-footed character, holding books in his hands…as an allegory to education.

Annually, over 230 years after it was made, the clock is still maintained by the company founded by Jean André Lepaute, the royal clock maker.

There is also a chapel, Chapelle de l’École Militaire, dedicated to Saint Louis, the guardian saint of all armies.

As a building, the chapel is simple and elegant, with its walls decorated by massive, embedded Corinthian columns. Inside, the highlights include 9 (originally 11) paintings about the life of Saint Louis.

Finally,at the Bibliothèque du CESAT (Collège de l’Enseignement Supérieur de l’Armée de Terre) building, you’ll be able to see artworks by the Flemish artist Jacob Verbeeckt, paintings by Pierre-François Cozette, and Louis XIV period marble fireplaces.