The Museum of the Legion of Honour and chivalrous orders is just beside the entrance to the Musee d’Orsay. It is a small museum dedicated to the highest civilian and military honour that France bestows, along with other national orders of merit and those from other countries.
The building it is situated in is the Palace of the Legion of Honour, also known as the Hotel de Salm. It is said to have inspired Thomas Jefferson in his design not only for his own house, but also that of official buildings in Washington.
The museum only occupies one side of the palace, and has rooms over three floors.
The top floor is full of honours from other countries, mostly European, but with some from as far as Japan and Peru.
I found one drawer which contained a set of decorations related to the British order of the Bath.
I would like to tell you lots about the exhibits, but unfortunately the text was only written in French, so a lot of it was lost on me as my school didn’t focus on military or chivalry terminology! There is, however, a lot of pretty things for the non-Francophone to look at…
…and even if you are uninterested in medals, there are paintings and swords to enjoy.
I know that some people find honours systems old fashioned, particularly in Britain where honours are usually linked to royalty and empire. Those people might feel strongly enough they would boycott this place.
However, they would miss out a little. It’s far from the best museum I’ve been to – arguably it’s not even the best museum within 50m (I would disagree, but I don’t like Impressionism that much), but it is free to enter. If you have an hour left after visiting the Musee d’Orsay, you could do worse.
Address: 2, rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris