The Invalides is a fascinating place where you can take in France’s military history going back about 200 years. The tall dome that crowns the Invalides is a landmark in the center of Paris. The Eiffel Tower rises behind a front yard that’s filled with shrubs and cannon. The Invalides is a chapel, an army museum, a hospital, and the final resting place of Napoleon I. You are sure to find something intriguing inside.
The Artillery Courtyard
Once inside the museum complex, you come out into a courtyard with displays of guns, weapons, and a tank. This is the Artillery Museum area, displaying years of French military history. Here is where ceremonies have taken place over the history of the Invalides.
The Two World Wars
Exhibits fill the buildings around the courtyard. While some are here for a limited time, a permanent collection on World War I and World War II fills one wing of the museum. Dates in the floor help you keep track of the chronology of the displays. A Renault battlefield taxi shines, showing none of the mud that would have covered it during WWI.
Also part of the Invalides complex, the Cathedral of Saint-Louis is the final resting place of Emperor Napoleon I. Construction of the chapel began in 1677. Most impressive from inside and out is the dome. Covered with gold outside, this dome is what can be seen for miles in central Paris. Inside, the chapel is ornate and elegant. We learned that during World War II, members of the resistance met in an enclosed floor up in the dome, undiscovered by the Nazis.
The Invalides is a wonderful place to spend a short time or an entire afternoon. If you have young ones with you, the museum provides fun soldier’s hats. While you may want to skip the war displays, the grounds alone are a great place for little ones to explore. If you are a history buff, the Invalides will keep you coming back whenever you’re in Paris.
For more information and various ticket packages, visit the official website of the Invalides.
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