The rectangular design of the Champ-de-Mars recalls its initial purpose: a training ground for the military manoeuvres of the Ecole Militaire (Military School). Opened in 1780, it became an important place for national events: 'fête de la fédération' in 1790, the awarding of decorations by Napoleon I in 1804, then the setting for many world fairs. Lakes, ornamental ponds, winding walks and grottoes adorn the Champ-de-Mars. Many birds may be seen in the area and it is one of the rare places in Paris where the song of the tawny owl is heard at night.

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