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Paris Top 10 : Hôtel des Invalides

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The “invalides” for whom this imposing Hôtel was built were wounded soldiers of the late 17th century. Louis XIV had the building constructed between 1671 and 1678, and veterans are still housed here, although only a dozen or so compared to the original 6,000. They share their home with the greatest French soldier of them all, Napoleon Bonaparte, whose body rests in a crypt directly below the golden dome of the Dôme Church. Other buildings accommodate military offices, the Musée de l’Armée and smaller military museums.

  • 129 rue de Grenelle, 75007

  • 01 44 42 38 77

  • www.invalides.org

  • Open Apr–Sep:10am–6pm daily, until 9pm Tue (Oct–Mar: until 5pm); closed first Mon of month (except Jul–Sep), 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 Nov, 25 Dec

  • Admission €8.50 adults; €6.50 concessions; under 18s free; under 26s (EU only) free

  • Limited disabled access


Hôtel Guide

Approach the Hôtel des Invalides from the Seine for the best view, and then walk around to the south side (by the Dôme Church) to reach the ticket office. You will need a ticket for the museums and to see Napoleon’s Tomb. If time is short, concentrate on the Musée de l’Armée, before walking through to the front of the buildings and reaching the impressive cobbled courtyard directly in front of the Dôme Church.


Hôtel des Invalides Floorplan

Le Café du Musée, between the Varenne metro station and the Musée Rodin is a lovely spot for a drink.


A ticket provides access to all attractions.



Top 10 Features
  1. Napoleon’s Tomb

    Napoleon’s body was brought here from St Helena in 1840, some 19 years after he died. He rests in splendid grandeur in a cocoon of six coffins, almost situated “on the banks of the Seine” as was his personal wish.

  2. Golden Dome

    The second church at the Hôtel was begun in 1677 and took 27 years to build. Its magnificent dome stands 107 m (351 ft) high and glistens as much now as it did when Louis XIV, the Sun King, had it first gilded in 1715.

  3. Musée de l’Armée

    The Army Museum is one of the largest collections of militaria in the world. Enthusiasts will be absorbed for hours, and even the casual visitor will be fascinated. The “Department Moderne”, which traces military history from Louis XIV to Napoleon III, has been revamped and is especially worth a visit .


    Musée de l’Armée façade
  4. Dôme Church Ceiling

    The colourful, circular painting on the interior of the dome above the crypt is the Saint Louis in Glory painted in 1692 by the French artist, Charles de la Fosse. Near the centre is St Louis, who represents Louis XIV, presenting his sword to Christ in the presence of the Virgin and angels.

  5. Hôtel des Invalides

    One of the loveliest sights in Paris, the Classical façade of the Hôtel is four floors high and 196 m (645 ft) end to end. Features include the dormer windows with their variously shaped shield surrounds.

  6. Church Tombs

    Encircling the Dôme Church are the imposing tombs of great French military men, such as Marshal Foch and Marshal Vauban, who revolutionized military fortifications and siege tactics.

  7. St-Louis-des-Invalides

    Adjoining the Dôme Church is the Invalides complex’s original church. It is worth seeing for its 17th-century organ, on which the first performance of Berlioz’s Requiem was given.

  8. Invalides Gardens

    The approach to the Hôtel is across public gardens and then through a gate into the Invalides Gardens themselves. Designed in 1704, their paths are lined by 17th- and 18th-century cannons.

  9. Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération

    The Order of Liberation, France’s highest military honour, was created by Général de Gaulle in 1940 to acknowledge contributions during World War II. The museum details the history of the honour and the wartime Free French movement.

  10. Musée des Plans-Reliefs

    Maps and models of French forts and fortified towns are displayed here and some of them are beautifully detailed, such as the oldest model on display, of Perpignan in 1686.

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