Les Invalides in Paris: The Complete Guide

Introduction to Hôtel des Invalides

What is The Hôtel National des Invalides?

The Hôtel des Invalides is a grand complex of buildings in Paris’s 7th arrondissement. Originally built as a hospital and home for disabled soldiers by Louis XIV, it now houses several museums and monuments all relating to the military history of France. The most notable feature of the Hôtel des Invalides is its golden dome, under which lies the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Les Invalides Paris

Location and How to Get to Hôtel des Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides is centrally located in Paris, close to the Seine River. It’s easily accessible by public transport. The closest metro stations are Invalides (Lines 8 and 13), La Tour-Maubourg (Line 8), and Varenne (Line 13). Several bus lines also serve the area.

History of Hôtel des Invalides

Origin and Creation of Hôtel des Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1670 as a place to house and care for wounded soldiers. The project was part of Louis XIV’s efforts to centralize and control the French military. The complex was designed by architect Liberal Bruant and was completed in 1676.

Historical Significance of Hôtel des Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides has played a significant role in French history. Not only has it served as a military hospital, but it was also a key location during the French Revolution. It was here that revolutionaries seized cannons and muskets before storming the Bastille in 1789.

Evolution of Hôtel des Invalides Over the Years

Over the years, the Hôtel des Invalides has evolved from a military hospital to a complex of museums and monuments. Today, it houses the Musée de l’Armée, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, as well as several churches and the Dome des Invalides, the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Architectural Heritage of Hôtel des Invalides

Notable Features of Hôtel des Invalides Architecture

The Hôtel des Invalides is a remarkable example of French Baroque architecture. The complex consists of a series of fifteen courtyards, the largest of which is the Cour d’Honneur. The buildings are characterized by their classical simplicity, with a uniform style of red brick and stone facades, slate roofs, and dormer windows.

The Dome des Invalides

The most iconic feature of the Hôtel des Invalides is the Dome des Invalides. Standing at a height of 107 meters, the dome is one of the tallest monuments in Paris. It was originally designed as a royal chapel by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, one of the most influential French architects of the 17th century. The dome was later repurposed to house the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Cour d’Honneur

The Cour d’Honneur, or Court of Honor, is the main courtyard of the Hôtel des Invalides. It’s surrounded by two-story buildings originally used as soldiers’ quarters. Today, the Cour d’Honneur is used for military parades and ceremonies.

Inside Hôtel des Invalides

The Army Museum

The Musée de l’Armée, or Army Museum, is one of the largest military museums in the world. It houses a vast collection of military artifacts, from weapons and armor to uniforms and artworks. The museum’s collections span from antiquity to the 20th century, providing a comprehensive overview of France’s military history.

The Tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte

Under the Dome des Invalides lies the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most famous figures in French history. Napoleon’s remains were returned to France from Saint Helena in 1840 and placed in a grand sarcophagus in the crypt under the dome.

Other Notable Tombs

In addition to Napoleon, the Hôtel des Invalides is the final resting place of several other notable figures in French military history. These include Napoleon’s brothers Joseph and Jérôme Bonaparte, Marshal Foch, and several governors and ministers of war.

Tickets and Visiting Hôtel des Invalides

Pricing for Special Attractions

While the courtyard of the Hôtel des Invalides is free to enter, there is an admission fee for the museums and monuments within the complex. This includes the Army Museum, the Tomb of Napoleon, and the other museums. There are discounts available for students, seniors, and groups, and admission is free for children under the age of 18.

Where and How to Buy Tickets

Tickets can be purchased on-site at the ticket office or online through the official website of the Army Museum.

Buying tickets online in advance can help you avoid long lines, especially during the peak tourist season.

Best Time to Visit Hôtel des Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides is open year-round, but it can get quite crowded during the summer months. The best time to visit is in the early morning or late afternoon when it’s less crowded. The complex is open from 10 am to 6 pm from April to October, and from 10 am to 5 pm from November to March.

Hotels Near Hôtel des Invalides

Top Hotels and Accommodations

There are several hotels located near the Hôtel des Invalides, ranging from luxury to budget options. Some top-rated hotels include the Hotel Le Walt, the Hotel de Varenne, and the Hotel Juliana Paris. These hotels offer comfortable accommodations and are within walking distance of the Hôtel des Invalides.

Budget-friendly Options

For those traveling on a budget, there are several affordable hotels and hostels in the vicinity of the Hôtel des Invalides. These include the Aloha Hostel and the Hotel de la Paix Tour Eiffel.

Luxury Stays

For a more luxurious stay, consider hotels like the Le Narcisse Blanc & Spa or the Hotel d’Orsay. These high-end hotels offer top-notch amenities and services, ensuring a comfortable and indulgent stay.

Activities in and around Hôtel des Invalides

Exploring the 7th Arrondissement

The Hôtel des Invalides is located in the 7th arrondissement, one of the most prestigious districts in Paris. This area is home to several other notable attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Rodin Museum. Take a stroll along the Seine River, visit the bustling Rue Cler market street, or relax in the Champ de Mars park.

Visiting the Rodin Museum

Just a short walk from the Hôtel des Invalides is the Rodin Museum, dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Here, you can see some of Rodin’s most famous sculptures, including “The Thinker” and “The Gates of Hell”, set within a beautiful garden.

Discovering the Alexandre III Bridge

The Alexandre III Bridge, considered one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris, is located near the Hôtel des Invalides. Adorned with ornate Art Nouveau lamps and sculptures, it offers stunning views of the Seine River and the surrounding landmarks.

What to Do Near Hôtel des Invalides

Visiting the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, is located just a short distance from the Hôtel des Invalides. You can take a leisurely walk along the Seine River to reach the tower, or take a short ride on the RER C train.

Exploring the Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay, home to an extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, is another must-visit attraction near the Hôtel des Invalides. The museum is housed in a former railway station and features works by artists such as Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh.

Shopping and Dining in the 7th Arrondissement

The 7th arrondissement offers a variety of shopping and dining options. You can find everything from high-end fashion boutiques to charming antique shops. For dining, there are numerous cafes, bistros, and restaurants offering a range of cuisines.

Nearby Attractions

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum, one of the world’s largest and most visited museums, is located a short distance from the Hôtel des Invalides. It houses an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. The museum is easily accessible by metro or a short walk along the Seine River.

The Champs-Élysées

The Champs-Élysées, often described as the world’s most beautiful avenue, is another nearby attraction. This famous boulevard, which stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, is lined with shops, cafes, and theaters. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll or shopping spree.

The Seine River

The Seine River, which flows through the heart of Paris, is a central part of the city’s charm. A walk along the Seine offers beautiful views of many of Paris’s most famous landmarks, including the Hôtel des Invalides, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre. River cruises are also available for a different perspective of the city.

Conclusion

Why Visit Hôtel des Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides is a must-visit for anyone interested in French history and architecture. From the stunning Dome des Invalides and the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte to the extensive collections of the Army Museum, there’s something for everyone. Its central location makes it a convenient starting point for exploring other attractions in the 7th arrondissement and beyond.

Essential Tips for Visitors

While the Hôtel des Invalides is open year-round, it can get quite crowded during the peak tourist season. It’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Remember to check the opening hours of the museums and monuments within the complex, as they may vary. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as there’s a lot to see and do!

This concludes the comprehensive guide to the Hôtel des Invalides. Enjoy your visit to this historic and fascinating Parisian landmark!

Dany

I’m a History & Art lover and I am very much in love with Paris…I studied Art History at the Louvre School and I became a professional tour guide because I want to share with you my passion and my love for this city. Get my FREE guide on «How to plan your trip to Paris»  now.

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