|Hotel des Invalides Army Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb|

Les Invalides Napoleon Tomb : A prominent sight in the Parisian landscape thanks to its famous gilded Dome, the Hôtel National des Invalides is an exceptional army museum. Visitors can explore the history of France there, through the Musée de l’Armée’s collections and the Tomb of Napoleon I in particular.

Invalides and Napoleon Tomb story

In the 17th century, Louis XIV was the head of Europe’s greatest army. Aware that soldiers were the primary guardians of France’s greatness, the Sun King decided to erect a building for those who had served the royal army. The Cité des Invalides first opened to veterans in 1674. At once a hospice, barracks, convent, hospital and factory, the Hôtel was a veritable city, governed by a military and religious system. Over 4,000 boarders lived within the site’s walls. On the south side, the majestic Dome Church, completed in 1706, is the work of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who is also the architect of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Before the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the Dome, at 107 meters high, was the tallest building in Paris.

Today, the Hôtel still fulfils its initial function by housing the Institution Nationale des Invalides.
At the heart of the Hotel, the Soldiers’ Church is accessible as an extension of the main courtyard. Called Saint-Louis Cathedral since 1986, the date of the installation of the diocese to the armies at Les Invalides, it is thus the second cathedral in Paris with Notre-Dame.

The pièce de résistance of Les Invalides is undoubtedly Napoleon’s tomb, a monumental structure that epitomizes the cult of personality surrounding the French emperor. His final resting place draws millions of visitors annually, paying homage to his legacy. Designed by architect Louis Visconti, Napoleon’s tomb is a masterpiece of neoclassical design, featuring intricate marble carvings, ornate reliefs, and a majestic sarcophagus resting beneath the iconic dome.

In 1815, Napoleon I lost the Battle of Waterloo against the English, Russians and allied Prussians. He must abdicate, that is to say he renounces power. King Louis XVIII ascends the throne, and Napoleon is exiled to the island of Saint Helena, a small island lost in the South Atlantic, which belongs to the English. He died on May 5, 1821 and was buried on the island.

In France, once the suffering of the Napoleonic wars had subsided, part of the population was nostalgic for the greatness of the Empire, and regretted the Emperor. To take advantage of Napoleon’s popularity, King Louis-Philippe asked the English for permission to repatriate the body: this episode is called the Return of the Ashes (the word ashes is a synonym for body or remains, this does not mean that Napoleon’s body was cremated).
On December 15, 1840, during a national funeral, the coffin of Napoleon I was placed under the dome of the Invalides, but in a side chapel because the tomb was not finished.

Invalides Napoleon Tomb and Museum Spaces

Les Invalides boasts an extensive collection of military artifacts, spanning centuries of French history. From ancient weaponry to modern armaments, the museum offers a comprehensive overview of France’s military prowess. Over the centuries, Les Invalides evolved from a veterans’ residence to a military complex, witnessing significant historical events such as the French Revolution and both World Wars. Today, it stands as a testament to France’s enduring military legacy.

  • The Hôtel national des Invalides, a city within the city
  • Saint-Louis Cathedral, three hundred years of history
  • The Dôme des Invalides (Napoleon’s tomb)
  • Royal Courtyard
  • Ancient weapons and armor | 13th – 17th century
  • Louis XIV – Napoleon | 17th – 19th century
  • The two world wars | Twentieth century
  • Historical Charles de Gaulle
  • Unusual offices
  • Museum of the Order of Liberation
  • Museum of Plans-Reliefs

Visitors can immerse themselves in interactive exhibits, providing insights into military strategy, technological advancements, and the human experience of warfare. From dioramas to multimedia installations, the museum offers engaging learning opportunities for all ages.


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