Hidden in the attic of Les Invalides, above the Musee de l'Armée, is a second museum, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs.
To quote the museum's English language leaflet
"Relief maps are scale-models of fortified sites, made from 1668 onwards on the initiative of Louvois, Louis XIV's Minister of War. These strategic tools provided an accurate representation of towns and the surrounding countryside within artillery range. They thus made it possible to plan changes to military fortifications or to simulate sieges."
There are 24 models, mainly on 1/600 scale. Each is in a glass case. The lighting is very low and gloomy, presumably to protect the models as they are almost 350 years old. I took some photos.
|Fort de la Prée on the Ile de Ré|
|St. Tropez (pre-Brigitte Bardot)|
These next four photographs are f the relief map of Toulon, the large French Navy base on the Mediterranean coast. The maps show not just the fortifications, but also the roads and fields, farms and farm buildings.
The reliefs maps are a great historical document as they show the fortifications as they were built but were not modified to show later additions or updates. This last model photo is of La Conchée, just off St. Malo in Brittany, part of the town's seaward defences. It is in a larger scale, 1/72
The fort was badly knocked about in WWII, first by the Germans for target practise, then by the Allies. It has been restored a little, this is what it looks like now.