Things to Do and See At The Les Invalides Paris France With History And Facts Guide

Craving a Parisian adventure steeped in military might and architectural awe? Look no further than Les Invalides, a majestic complex brimming with “ooh la la” moments!

This iconic landmark is not just a disabled veterans’ home (though it started that way!), it’s a treasure trove of French history, housing Napoleon’s tomb, a world-class military museum, and enough gilded domes to make your jaw drop.

So, get ready to:

  • Unravel the secrets of Napoleon Bonaparte: Explore his final resting place, a golden masterpiece, and delve into his fascinating story – from brilliant strategist to exiled emperor.
  • Step back in time: Immerse yourself in centuries of French military history through captivating exhibits, from medieval armor to cutting-edge weaponry. ⚔️
  • Marvel at architectural grandeur: Gaze in wonder at the awe-inspiring dome, a symbol of French resilience, and wander through elegant courtyards, each whispering tales of the past. ✨

But wait, there’s more! This guide is your key to unlocking all the hidden gems of Les Invalides. Think secret gardens, stunning views, and insider tips to maximize your visit.

So, pack your curiosity, lace up your walking shoes, and let’s embark on a historical adventure you won’t forget! Bon voyage!

Les Invalides History

1671: King Louis XIV of France commissioned the construction of Les Invalides to provide care for wounded and retired soldiers.

1676: The Dôme des Invalides, the iconic dome of the complex, was completed.

1840: Napoleon Bonaparte’s remains were brought to Les Invalides and placed in the crypt beneath the Dôme.

1905: The Musée de l’Armée, one of the world’s largest military museums, opened its doors within Les Invalides.

1791: Les Invalides became a revolutionary stronghold during the French Revolution.

1905: The Musée de l’Armée, one of the world’s largest military museums, opened its doors within Les Invalides.

Additional Tips for Visiting Les Invalides:

  • Purchase your tickets in advance: To avoid long queues, purchase your tickets online or at one of the ticket offices outside the complex.
  • Plan your visit: With so much to see and do, consider how you want to structure your time at Les Invalides. Allocate enough time to explore the museums, admire the architecture, and pay your respects to Napoleon.
  • Dress appropriately: Les Invalides is a prestigious landmark, so dress modestly and respectfully. Remember that many of the museums require visitors to remove their hats and cover their shoulders.
  • Capture the moments: Bring your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning architecture, the captivating artifacts, and the overall grandeur of Les Invalides.
  • Embrace the history: Immerse yourself in the stories of bravery, innovation, and military prowess that permeate Les Invalides. Let the grandeur of the complex and the historical significance of its contents transport you back in time.

Things to Do and See At The Les Invalides

Visit the Musée de l’Armée: Explore this vast museum’s collection of arms, armor, and artifacts from over 1,000 years of French military history.

Ascend the Dôme des Invalides: Marvel at the dome’s intricate architecture and breathtaking panoramic views of Paris.

Pay respects to Napoleon Bonaparte: Observe the emperor’s sarcophagus in the crypt beneath the Dôme and learn about his life and legacy.

Admire the Église Saint-Louis-des-Invalides: Step into this Baroque masterpiece and appreciate its opulent interior and stained glass windows.

Discover the Musée des Plans-Reliefs: Explore this lesser-known museum and view detailed scale models of French fortified cities.

Why Should You Visit Les Invalides?

Les Invalides is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the rich history and cultural tapestry of Paris. Here are just a few reasons why you should include this extraordinary landmark in your Parisian itinerary:
A Monument to Military History: Les Invalides was originally established as a military hospital and retirement home for wounded soldiers, offering refuge and care to those who had served their country with valor. The complex now houses the Musée de l’Armée, one of the world’s most comprehensive military museums, showcasing an extensive collection of weapons, armor, and artifacts that chronicle France’s military history from the Middle Ages to the present day.
The Dôme des Invalides: A Majestic Architectural Masterpiece: The gilded dome of Les Invalides is an iconic Parisian landmark, soaring gracefully above the city skyline. Designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the dome’s intricate architecture and opulent interior are a testament to the grandeur of French Baroque artistry.
The Tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte: A Symbol of French Imperial Grandeur: Les Invalides is the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of history’s most iconic figures. The imposing sarcophagus, crafted from red porphyry, lies beneath the magnificent dome, serving as a poignant reminder of the emperor’s legacy.

What is Les Invalides Used For?

Les Invalides serves as a multipurpose complex, housing various institutions and attractions:
Musée de l’Armée: The Museum of the Army, showcasing France’s military history from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Musée des Plans-Reliefs: The Museum of Relief Maps, displaying a collection of detailed scale models of French fortified cities.
Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération: The Museum of the Order of Liberation, chronicling the history of the Order of Liberation, France’s highest military decoration.
Église Saint-Louis-des-Invalides: The Church of Saint-Louis des Invalides, a Baroque masterpiece designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart.
Dôme des Invalides: The iconic dome, housing the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Cour d’Honneur: The grand courtyard, offering a panoramic view of the complex.

What Does Les Invalides Mean in French?

The term “Les Invalides” translates to “The Invalids” in English. It refers to the original purpose of the complex as a home for wounded and retired soldiers.

What Happened at Les Invalides Why Was it Significant?

Les Invalides played a significant role in French history, serving as a hub for military activities and a symbol of royal patronage. Here are some of the notable events that transpired within its walls:
Establishment: In 1670, King Louis XIV commissioned the construction of Les Invalides to provide care for wounded and retired soldiers.
Royal Presence: Les Invalides became a center of royal activity, with Louis XIV and his successors frequently visiting the complex.
Napoleon’s Legacy: Les Invalides houses the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, marking the emperor’s final resting place.
Military Museum: The Musée de l’Armée was established within Les Invalides, showcasing France’s rich military heritage.

Why Was Napoleon Buried in Les Invalides?

Napoleon Bonaparte was buried in Les Invalides as a testament to his status as a military hero and emperor of France. The complex’s association with military valor and the presence of other notable military figures made it a fitting final resting place for Napoleon.


Les Invalides stands as a compelling testament to France’s rich military heritage and cultural splendor. From its origins as a haven for wounded soldiers to its present-day status as a venerated architectural and historical landmark, Les Invalides encapsulates the spirit of resilience, innovation, and grandeur that has defined France throughout its history.

Venture into Les Invalides and embark on a journey through time, where the echoes of valor and the grandeur of military triumphs reverberate amidst the majestic architecture. Explore the Musée de l’Armée, marvel at the Dôme des Invalides, and pay homage to the iconic figure of Napoleon Bonaparte. Delve into the lesser-known corners of the complex, uncovering hidden gems that narrate the intricate tapestry of French military history.

Leave Les Invalides with a profound appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who have served their country, and a deeper understanding of the enduring legacy of French military prowess.

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