During our trip to Paris in July 2017, after perusing the halls of Musée de l’Armée, my husband, daughter, and I made our way to Dôme des Invalides and the tomb of Napoleon. The time at l’Armée must have been too wearing on our daughter (to be fair it was hot out and old cannons aren’t really much interest to her), since she ignored the splendor of the Dôme and immediately plopped down on the first bench she saw. My husband headed off to explore the room and I went to the center ring to peer at the tomb rising from the level below.
Seeing the perfect angle for a photo, I placed my hat on the ledge to retrieve my phone. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had apparently stuffed her sunglasses inside the hat. As I picked the hat back up, the sunglasses tumbled out of the hat and into the tomb below, clattering among the rings of unlit candles.
Embarrassed and annoyed at our daughter, I approached one of the French security guards and attempted to explain, in my very rusty high school French, the situation with the sunglasses. "Les lunettes de soleils sont tombes." I assumed that the glasses were lost to us and that the guard would simply retrieve the glasses after hours. I simply wanted to do the right thing and let him know they were down there.
Instead, the guard headed toward the stairs to the room below, motioning for me to follow and show him the location of the glasses. As we walked down the stairs, the guard and I chatted in the most basic, and surely, grammatically incorrect French. Me: “Ce n’est pas l’enfant qui a fais cela, mais c’est l’adulte.” The guard teasingly responded, “Ah, vous etes l’enfant.” My daughter, still on her bench, was completely unaware of the situation. My husband filled her in (“So, mom accidentally dropped your glasses into Napoleon’s tomb and that guard is going to go fish them out.”)
Apparently the rest on the bench had done our girl some good, because before my husband knew it, she was sprinting across the room to the stairs so she could check out the action. While our daughter ran down the stairs, the guard was standing by the wall on the lower level that completely surrounded the tomb. He was slowly removing several sets of keys from his pockets, preparing to haul himself over the wall to find the glasses. As my daughter ran up, the guard said, “C’est votre fille?” I told him yes. He beckoned my daughter over, then picked her up and placed her over the wall. She began working her way around the candles to find her glasses. My husband walked up and we watched our daughter wandering around. The security guard encouraged us to take a picture because “C’est tres rare.”
Our daughter took a much more leisurely tour of Napoleon’s tomb than one would have expected because one of the lenses had popped out the glasses during the fall. During her search for the missing lens she was momentarily distracted by a baby’s pacifier also likely lost from above. Then, with the lens finally found, the guard lifted her back over the wall.
We left the Dome shortly after with some slightly dinged-up sunglasses, a great story, and the photo you see above.