The House or Palace of Les Invalides is one of the ambitious projects of King Louis XIV. The complex, built at the edge of the 17th–18th centuries, was conceived as a shelter and hospital for old and mutilated soldiers. But the disabled could not prevent the capture of the artillery depot in the local cellars when the revolution came to Paris.
In its heyday, Les Invalides housed about 4,000 residents. During the 19th century, the number of veterans living in it decreased, and the complex acquired historical and museum significance. Today, Les Invalides has well-deserved popularity among tourists and it is one of the symbols of Paris. Although several dozen veterans of the French army still live there.
You can book a guided tour of Les Invalides at this link in advance.
How to get to Les Invalides?
129 Rue de Grenelle, Paris, France
Official website: musee-armee.fr
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How much is the ticket to Les Invalides?
The ticket costs € 14
Students and kids up to 18 y.o. visit the place for free
With one ticket you can visit all the museums, open rooms, the chapel and the tomb of Napoleon. There are audio guides provided at Les Invalides.
The most accurate way to start distinguishing the French military by their uniforms is to walk around the Les Invalides with a guide. You can book a tour with a professional guide at this link.
From Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. in winter, and till 6:00 p.m. in summer.
The chapel where Napoleon’s tomb is located is open till 7:00 p.m.
What to see at Les Invalides
An outstanding monument of classicism architecture. Les Invalides in Paris is distinguished by grandeur and special harmony. The esplanade begins at the Seine embankment, creating a beautiful view of the facade of the complex, decorated with skillfully executed bas-reliefs.
Already from here you can see the St. Louis Cathedral dominating the buildings, the diameter of its dome is 27 m, and the total height is 107 m. Few people know that this dome exactly served as the prototype for the construction of the US Capitol. Not so long ago, the cathedral was restored and now it welcomes visitors in all its splendor.
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Les Invalides in Paris serves as a tomb for many well-known Frenchmen, who became famous mainly in the military field. Napoleon Bonaparte without any doubt can be called the greatest of them. The commander and politician who changed the face of the world was solemnly reburied here in 1840, when the British finally allowed his remains to be removed from St. Helena island. Since then, the tomb of Napoleon I has remained at Les Invalides, and everyone can see it.
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Napoleon’s sarcophagus is a true work of art. But there was a funny moment in the process of its creation. The architect chose Karelian porphyry for the construction of the gravestone. France needed to buy material in Russia. And in 1846, Nicholas I said that Russia would always have a piece of stone for Napoleon, and sent a block weighing 200 tons to Paris for free.
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Les Invalides houses several significant museums:
- The Museum of Plans and Reliefs contains an extensive collection of models of cities and fortresses in great scale and detail.
- The Army Museum, as the name says, is dedicated to the military affairs of France. The collected exhibits cover a large period from ancient times to two world wars. The museum houses one of the richest collections of weapons and armor in the world.
- The Museum of the Order of the Liberation is dedicated to the activities of the French resistance during the 2nd World War.
- The exhibition halls of the complex also host temporary exhibitions and concerts.
Enjoy pleasant walks around the House of Les Invalides!