Ah, Paris, the City of Light, is never short of surprises. If you thought you’d seen it all, let me introduce you to a priceless nugget: the Hôtel des Invalides. As a Napoleon enthusiast, I was thrilled to discover it.
In this article, you’ll find all the information you need to visit Les Invalides, as well as my detailed opinion.
Hôtel des Invalides: Paris’s golden jewel
In Paris’s 7th arrondissement, the Hôtel des Invalides is a historical treasure you absolutely must explore.
Built in the 17th century by Louis XIV to honor the veterans of his armies, this impressive architectural ensemble continues to bear witness to the grandeur of France. Its majestic golden dome, visible from afar, is sure to dazzle you.
But what really makes this visit a must is the Musée de l’Armée (Army Museum). Featuring an incredible collection of armor, weapons, cannons and other military artifacts, this museum plunges you into France’s military history, from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Les Invalides is also famous for the tomb of Emperor Napoleon I.
What can you see and do in the Musée de l’Armée at Les Invalides?
As you enter the Musée de l’Armée, you are immersed in centuries of military history. The first thing that strikes you is the Cour d’Honneur, a vast paved esplanade surrounded by two majestic wings of the building. This is where the great military ceremonies take place. It’s the perfect place to admire the building’s impressive architecture.
Within the museum, several rooms await you. Each is dedicated to a specific period or aspect of military history. Particularly noteworthy is the collection of weapons and armor from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It includes unique pieces such as the armor of François I.
The department dedicated to the Second World War presents an exhaustive collection of uniforms, weapons and personal objects that bear witness to the horrors of that period. It offers a reflection on global conflicts and their lasting consequences.
Next, go to the Dôme des Invalides. It houses the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte. The emperor lies beneath an imposing monument of red porphyry, surrounded by statues representing his great victories. This historic site is a must see for all visitors.
The museum also hosts several temporary exhibitions each year.
How much does it cost to enter the Musée de l’Armée at Les Invalides?
At Les Invalides, you need to buy a ticket called “Musée et expositions.” It allows you to visit :
- permanent collections
- the Dome Church
- the tomb of Napoleon I
- current temporary exhibition
- Museum of the Order of the Liberation
- Musée des Plans-Reliefs.
The price is €15 for an adult. Admission is free for children under 18.
How long does a visit to the Invalides last?
A complete tour of the Hôtel des Invalides can take between two and three hours.
Where is the Hôtel des Invalides located?
The Hôtel des Invalides is located at 129 rue de Grenelle, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.
How to get to Les Invalides
By car, you can use a GPS and enter the address above. There are parking lots nearby, although parking can be difficult and expensive in Paris.
The best thing to do is to take public transport:
- Metro line 8 with one stop at “Invalides” station
- Metro line 13, getting off at “Varennes” station
- RER C with descent to “Invalides” station
- Bus line 69 with a stop at “Varennes” station
- Bus line 28 with a stop at “La Tour Maubourg” station
- Bus lines 82, 92, 63, 83 and 93 get off at “Invalides” station
What are the opening hours of Les Invalides in Paris?
Les Invalides is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Evening sessions are held on the 1st Friday of each month from 6p.m. to 10p.m.
The only closing days are January 1, May 1 and December 25.
Opinions on the visit to Les Invalides: is it a good visit?
I must confess that I was really looking forward to visiting the Hôtel des Invalides. As a military brat with a passion for history, particularly the Napoleonic era, it had been on my “must-do” list for a while. And I can tell you without hesitation: it was well worth the wait.
As soon as I walked through the doors of the building, I was transported back in time. The Cour d’Honneur is incredibly impressive and gave me an immediate sense of the historical significance of the place. I could imagine the clacking boots of the soldiers who have marched here over the centuries.
Afterwards, I visited the Army Museum. It was fascinating to see the armor and weapons that have been used through the ages. Each piece made me think about the era in which it was used and the history it has traversed. It was really the armor from the Middle Ages that caught my eye.
However, the highlight of my visit was undoubtedly the discovery of Napoleon’s tomb. I really felt the emotion as I entered the dome. Seeing the final resting place of this man who left such an indelible mark on history was a truly special moment.
I’ve already visited many Paris museums and the Pantheon, where famous people are buried. But the military aspect of the Invalides is a real plus for me. It’s one of the rare Parisian visits that I’d be delighted to make again.
What else can you do at Les Invalides?
Around Les Invalides, there’s a whole host of activities on offer:
- Visit the Rodin Museum, with works by the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin.
- Stroll along the Champ de Mars and admire the Eiffel Tower.
- Enjoy a boat trip on the Seine.
- Discover the Musée d’Orsay and its collection of Impressionist art.
- Stroll through the Latin Quarter, famous for its cafés, bookshops and student life.
- Visit the Musée du quai Branly, which showcases non-Western arts and cultures.
- Explore the Musée de l’Orangerie, famous for Monet’s “Water Lilies” and its collection of modern and impressionist art.
With so much to do in Paris, the list could go on for dozens of recommendations…