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Les Invalides - General view

"Very impressive"

  • April 2016

reviewed by Farah from France

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Les Invalides


The great tomb of napoleon

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Who is it for?

Paris for you
Paris for you
Paris for you

Why you will love it?

The characteristic golden dome of Les Invalides is easily recognizable because of its height and cheer beauty. And what lies inside the dome is definitely worth a visit: Napoleon’s Tomb. But there are other great highlights and curiosities in this 17th century building that should not be missed. Les Invalides should therefore be on top of your sightseeing list, no matter how long you stay in Paris.

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About this place

129 rue de Grenelle, 75007
Line 8 - Invalides / Tour Maubourg Line 13 - Varennes
Line C - Invalides

Tuesday : 10:00 am - 17:00 pm
more less
Monday : 10:00 am - 17:00 pm Tuesday : 10:00 am - 17:00 pm Wednesday : 10:00 am - 17:00 pm Thursday : 10:00 am - 17:00 pm Friday : 10:00 am - 17:00 pm Saturday : 10:00 am - 17:00 pm Sunday : 10:00 am - 17:00 pm
1 January 1 May 25 December

Our Insiders' Article

Les Invalides; dedicated to art of warfare

The Hôtel des Invalides (“Mansion of the Disabled”, commonly referred to as Les Invalides) is recognizable by its tall golden dome.
Almost throughout all its existence since 1670, it has been dedicated to the military. Napoleon’s Tomb is located under the golden dome, but Les Invalides is also home to 3 interesting museums, all related to warfare. The military hospital and living quarters of army officials are not open to the public.

Making the Most of It: a free entrance to the courtyard and gardens

Les Invalides is not invaded by tourists, so you don’t need to worry about waiting in line for too long.
Entrance to Les Invalides’ courtyards, church and gardens is free, but a ticket is needed to enter the buildings (museums, Tomb).
Even if you are not planning to enter the tomb and museums, a walk through the courtyard is a must-do.

This section is only about Les Invalides building. Find out more about the Musée de l'Armée (army museum) now.

Napoleon's Tomb: the highlight of les Invalides

Napoleon’s Tomb was built in 1861 by Visconti and is located under Les Invalides’ golden dome.
In 1840, exactly 19 years after Napoleon’s death, his body was brought back to France from the island of Saint Helen, where he died in exile under British supervision.
Napoleon’s body rests in a massive quartzite sarcophagus (and another 6 additional coffins inside) surrounded by 12 female statues symbolizing Napoleon’s military campaigns.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Some historians say that it is not Napoleon’s body that rests in the tomb, as historical facts do not concur: his body was in perfect condition when unearthed 19 years after his death. How strange…

Chapels and Cannons

Because the King could not be in the same church as war veterans, 17th century architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart built a church that would be divided in two: The royal chapel, under the golden dome and now a pantheon for the great French military leaders (including Napoleon’s tomb), and the veteran’s chapel, still used as a church today.

Cannons are visible in the Cour d’Honneur (Court of Honor) and you can see some interesting army curiosities for free under the hallways on the first and second floors.

History: King Louis XVI and Napoleon

King Louis XIV ordered the construction of Les Invalides to shelter the war veterans and disabled soldiers in 1670, as many were reduced to begging and caused social unrest. Construction based on architectural plans drawn by Libéral Bruant started in 1671.

Les Invalides was looted and damaged during the French Revolution in 1789. At the turn of the 19th century, Napoleon used it for many official ceremonies, saving Les Invalides from destruction. Parts of the building became a museum in 1905.

Trivia: Napoleon's son, flags and tombstone

There are 46 people buried in the crypt, all of them being great military figures of France. Napoleon’s son, l’Aiglon, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 21, is buried in the crypt, close to his father.

Les Invalides has France's largest collection of hearts belonging to belonging to important military people.

Les Invalides’ veteran’s chapel is the only religious building where military flags hang above the altar.

On the western side of the chapel lies the original tombstone of Napoleon’s grave on Saint Helen Island.

Conclusion: a beautiful building day or night

Be sure to catch a glimpse of Les Invalides at night, as the lighting of the building and dome is amazing.
In summer, we recommend walking down the front gardens towards the Seine River and enjoy a picnic on the grass areas or a drink under beautiful Alexandre III bridge.
A visit to Les Invalides is definitely a must-do for its beauty: even Frances’ former president Charles De Gaulle wanted the new presidential residence to be in Les Invalides (didn’t go through).

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