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Hotel des Invalides

January 30th, 2009 by paris

Situated on the Esplanada des Invalides lies the Hotel National des Invalides. A masterpiece of 17th century architecture. Founded in 1671 by Louis XIV as a hospital for the returning wounded and a hospice for war veterans.

World renowned for housing Napoleon’s tomb, it is also host to four museums, a military museum (le musee de l’Armee), a contemporary history museum (le musee d’Histoire Contemporaine), the museum of the Liberation (musee de l’Ordre de la Liberation) and the military maps and scale models museum (le musee des Plans et Reliefs).

There is a magnificent church here, Saint Louis des Invalides, more commonly known as Dome des Invalides, which is the last resting place for France’s most distinguished war heroes, the most distinguished of whom is Napoleon Bonaparte, housed in the most awe-inducing tomb.

The gilded dome of the Saint Louis des Invalides, makes this church the second highest building in Paris, second only to the Eiffel Tower, and Napoleon’s tomb is also on a grand scale, his statue is 2.5m tall, and everything within the tomb is on a gargantuan scale.

Most visitors to Hotel des Invalides come to see Napoleon’s tomb, but the museums have many interesting things to see and you really should visit them all. Military history buffs will be thrilled with the detail.

Summer opening hours are 10am till 6pm, and winter hours are 10am till 5pm. Entrance ticket for all museums and the church are 8.50 euros, but Hotel des Invalides is included in the museum pass.

Please note that though entrance is free for the disabled, under 18’s, the unemployed, and teachers, you will still have to pay 1 euro for the Audio Guide(essential in my opinion), and you must buy this at the ticket counter at the entrance.

It is very easy to spend several hours here as there is so much of interest to see. There is nice little cafe attached and try to spend some time in the beautiful garden, rest by the pond and transport yourself back in time.

How to get there

You take the Metro to Varenne, or the RER to Invalides, and buses 28, 49, 63, 69, 82, 83, 87, 92 all stop at the Esplanada des Invalides


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