Localisation
  • hôtel des Invalides, Esplanade des Invalides, Paris, 75007, France

Open hours
Opening hours
  • Every day, 10am-6pm.
  • Tuesday, noctune opening until 9pm (for the East wing, the church of the Dome and the tomb of Napoleon I) during temporary exhibitions.

Exceptional opening

  • Easter
  • Easter Monday
  • Ascension Day
  • May 8th
  • Pentecost
  • Pentecost Monday
  • July 14th
  • August 15th
  • November 1st
Access

Hôtel national des Invalides

Esplanade des Invalides
75007 Paris

  • Métro - Lines 8 and 13 - Stations La Tour-Maubourg or Invalides
  • RER - Line C - Station Invalides
  • Bus - 28, 63, 69, 80, 82, 83, 92, 93
  • Offre adaptée aux personnes en situation de handicap
Address

Hôtel national des Invalides

Esplanade des Invalides
75007 Paris

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 51′ 36″ N 2° 18′ 43″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.85570 2.31235

Tel. +33 (0) 1 44 42 38 77
tourisme@musee-armee.fr
https://www.musee-armee.fr

 

Reservation

SCHEDULES AND RATES
Rates and terms

Free visit

  • Museum ticket (permanent collections, Dome church, Napoleon's tomb, temporary exhibition, museum of the Order of the Liberation and museum of relief plans): full price, €14; reduced price, €11.

Group visits

  • Reservations for groups for self-guided tours (10 people or more, €9/person - sliding scale for 20 people or more) by e-mail tourisme@musee-armee.fr Reservations for groups for guided tours (€12.90/person) by phone at +33 (0) 8 25 05 44 05 or by e-mail benedicte@cultival.fr

Free

  • Free for visitors under 26 years of age who are citizens of the European Union, and for teachers of 1st and 2nd grade (except for temporary exhibitions).
  • Free for visitors with disabilities and their companions, job seekers and those receiving minimum social benefits, French and foreign military personnel, journalists.
  • Free for children and young people - 18 years old

Methods of payment accepted

  • CB/Visa
  • Eurocard/Mastercard
Full description

Hôtel-des-Invalides in Paris: a multi-purpose monument in the center of Paris

The Hôtel-des-Invalides in Paris is a set of huge buildings, which we had to "cut" into themes to explain its complexity. And we give you below the keys to finding your way around:

  • The entrance on the "Esplanade des Invalides" side gives access to the Cour d'Honneur and at the back, to the Saint Louis Cathedral.
    From the outset, the hotel's northern forecourt was extended beyond the hotel's northern boundaries by a wide public esplanade as far as the Seine. Along the Esplanade are located today, the Austrian and Finnish embassies, the Gare des Invalides train station and the Hôtel du Ministre des Affaires étrangères (French Foreign Affaires).
  • The Hôtel-des-Invalides has the mission of guarding the emblems and trophies of France. As such, cannons taken from the enemy are displayed as trophies along the moat, facing the Invalides esplanade. Until the beginning of the 20th century, they fired bursts of honor to mark the great public celebrations.
  • Around the Cour d'Honneur are distributed the museums: weapons and ancient armor, Louis XIV and Napoleon room, the two world wars, room of the unusual Cabinets, Historial Charles de Gaulle, Museum of the Order of the Liberation, Museum of plans and reliefs.
  • The opposite entrance on Place Vauban leads directly into the Church of the Dome where Napoleon's Tomb is located. Originally, it was the main entrance to the Invalides, at least the one that welcomed the king with great pomp and ceremony from Versailles, to access directly to the Church of the Dome. Broad, tree-lined, radiating alleys had therefore been laid out to the south in the countryside.

Note: A combined ticket is available to visit the complex.

Louis XIV at the origin of the Hôtel-des-Invalides in Paris

King Louis XIV, like his predecessors Henri II, Henri III, Henri IV, wished to ensure help and assistance to the invalid soldiers of his armies. This is what is written in the Royal Edict of March 12, 1670: so that "those who have exposed their lives and prodigied their blood for the defense of the monarchy (...) may spend the rest of their days in tranquility".

Nevertheless, beyond the humanitarian gesture, Louis XIV also had perfectly political aims. These invalids, mostly from the Thirty Years' War, were in a bad way, hanging around on the Pont Neuf, often involved in street brawls, and the population complained about this behavior.

Moreover, Louis XIV, no longer hiding his plans for conquest, had to restore the image of his army in the eyes of the population, but also his own image in the eyes of his soldiers.

Life at the Hôtel-des-Invalides in Paris at the time of Louis XIV

Invalid soldiers were only admitted to the Invalides after ten years of service in the Army, which was increased to twenty in 1710. The charge was given to the governor of the hotel, as the place was considered both a religious building and a military organization, to check the various applications. Thus, Protestants, sailors, and those who were ill with the écrouelles were refused during the reign of Louis XIV. Religious, therefore, by the rejection of the Protestants, but also by the forty days training that each soldier received on arrival by the priests. Daily life was pleasant, they walked freely, going into one of the eight cookers, two of which were considered "smokers". If women were forbidden, married soldiers could sleepover twice a week.

Between 1676 and 1690, the building housed 6,000 invalids, who were fed copiously and benefited from good hygiene and a luxurious infirmary service. Indeed, the infirmary included 300 individual beds in the time of Louis XIV, true luxury at the time. Nevertheless, the invalids still worked for the State. The most able-bodied stand guard (in cities like Dieppe, Lisieux, Honfleur, Saint-Malo...) while others remain in Paris to make uniforms, stockings, shoes, or even tapestries in the factories installed in the Hôtel-des-Invalides. One of these manufactures, the object of all the pride, the workshop of calligraphy and illuminations, even works for Versailles.

An iron discipline reigns under Louis XIV at the Invalides. No latecomers accepted when the gates closed to the sound of the military drum in the evening. A system of rewards enriched the informers on the bad morals of the invalids. In case of misconduct, deprivation of wine, detention, prison, expulsion, or "wooden horse" (the soldier sat on a pommel horse in the forecourt of the hotel and suffered the mockery of his companions) were possible.

A long construction period for the Hôtel-des-Invalides in Paris

For all these reasons, the construction of the Hôtel-des-Invalides began with the Royal Ordinance of May 24, 1670. The establishment, which served as a hospital, hospice, barracks, and convent, was tax-exempt and administered by a governor. It is located in the plain of Grenelle, in the open countryside, in the Gros Caillou district, then a suburb of Paris (i.e. outside Paris). The complex also includes 2 churches:

  • The chapel for the exclusive use of the royal family, known as the Dôme des Invalides or Church of the Dome, which is the choir, under the dome, now desecrated and where Napoleon rests. Above it is a dome surmounted by a lantern 107 meters high. The construction of this dome was completed in 1706, 27 years after the laying of the foundation stone.
  • The church, seat of a parish of the diocese of Paris until 1791, today's Cathedral of the Armies, still in concrete form, was opened for soldiers as early as 1679. It is, in fact, the nave that constitutes "the soldiers' church" and which is "glued" to the Dome. The two buildings are contiguous and directly connected, but separated by a glass roof built in 1873.

The construction of the Invalides

The first boarders were accommodated at the inauguration of the hotel in October 1674 by Louis XIV himself.

The construction of the religious buildings lasted nearly thirty years and was not completed until August 28, 1706. In the meantime, Louvois replaced Colbert (opposed to spending) in the ministry and thus quadrupled the one hundred thousand pounds allotted to the construction of the dome. But, on January 29, 1699, Louvois died suddenly in Versailles. He is buried in the church of the Capuchin convent, at the exit of the Place Vendôme without having seen the Hôtel des Invalides finished and where he wanted to be buried.

The Hôtel-des-Invalides and Louis XIV

The Invalides will remain for the monarchy, "the thing" of Louis XIV. Louis XV did not go there, and Louis XVI only on rare occasions during which he always saluted the performance of this institution. Another illustrious guest of the monarchical period, Czar Peter I of Russia, visited the monastery in April 1717.

In addition to the church, the Hôtel-des-Invalides in Paris included a factory (uniform making and printing), a hospice ("retirement home"), and a military hospital. The initial workshops were quickly abandoned to make additional rooms.

The Hôtel-des-Invalides in Paris and the Revolution

Monday, July 13, 1789, at nightfall, the barricades rise in Paris.  The unpopular reforms of the Count of Saint-Germain, Louis XVI's Minister of War, put the royalist governor and his staff to shame. Among the invalids themselves, the proximity to the Masonic lodges and the cohabitation with the French soldiers who had escaped from the La Fayette expeditionary force during the American Revolution led to a surge of sympathy for the revolutionary movement. The 20 invalids in charge of removing the dogs from the guns and thus making them unusable "fall behind" surely support the revolutionary action. In 1791 the Constituent Assembly hesitated to close the Invalides and then reversed its decision.

The recall to the Army of the War Invalids

Nevertheless, with the declaration of war against Austria on April 20, 1792, the revolutionary government no longer hesitated to turn to its former soldiers. Enemy emblems were presented to the Invalides, men with a firm hand were finally appointed to head the institution to straighten it out. With time, the institution regained its marks. But it is a name that will come to unite the residents. The wounded of the Italian campaign already spoke only of him: the young General Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon and the Invalides

Renamed the National Hotel for Invalids, it is threatened with extinction, but the young general has never ceased to maintain a close relationship with the Invalids. For him, in the beginning, it was a way to legitimize himself, to win the hearts of the soldiers. Thus, on September 23, 1800, the anniversary of the founding of the Republic, led by the First Consul, was held at the Invalides. This speech delivered by his brother, Lucien Bonaparte, will make the national chord of old soldiers vibrate.

But when Napoléon, then senatus-consulte, proclaimed the Empire on May 18, 1804, the old revolutionaries were worried.

So Napoleon postponed the anniversary of the capture of the Bastille from July 14 to 15. Napoleon prepared for that day, a Sunday, a day of rest, a new ceremony that would take place at the Invalides. Thus, on July 15, 1804, a sumptuous official ceremony took place in the Invalides chapel: Napoleon's first-ever awarding of Legion of Honor medals to deserving officers.

The 1st distribution of the Legion of Honor

The Legion of Honor is the highest French distinction, created by Napoleon, and still in use today.

Napoleon, who had two basins at his feet, one containing the legions in gold for the great officers, commanders, and officers, the other in silver for the knights, began the distribution by pinning the crosses to each one's chest. One finds there brilliant soldiers, Kellermann, Oudinot, Suchet, Marmont... but also cardinals like Belloy or Fesch, scientists like Monge, founder of Polytechnique, the chemist Berthollet, the astronomers Lalande, Cassini or Méchain, the surgeon Pelletan, the apothecary Parmentier, a former employee of the Invalides, and many other painters, musicians, botanists, cooks ... To each of them he touches a word, on their injuries, their work, their common memories ... After the ceremony, Pierre Desvignes' Te Deum resounds in the choir of the Imperial Chapel while Napoleon leaves with the Grand Master of Ceremonies, M. De Ségur, and the Grand Chamberlain Talleyrand.

On May 17, 1807, the Emperor placed there with great pomp the sword of the King of Prussia Frederick II of Prussia, acquired following his victory on October 25, 1806, at the Battle of Potsdam.

Napoleon went at Hôtel-des-Invalides in Paris several times to listen to the recriminations of his former comrades-in-arms. On March 25, 1811, he granted the hotel a budget of 6 million francs of the time. For the Invalides, this First Empire was a true golden age.

The return of the ashes of Napoleon 1st

Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas demanded his return from the Island of Saint Helena after his death on May 5, 1821. In the end, it was the politician Adolphe Thiers who, in the Assembly, managed to turn the debate on its advantage, during the reign of King Louis Philipe, on May 1, 1840, the day of Saint Louis-Philippe.

The location of the tomb has already been designated: the Invalides, already chosen by Napoleon himself.

The Prince de Joinville (son of King Louis Philippe) is in charge of the transfer aboard La Belle Poule which reaches the town of Cherbourg on November 30th. Napoleon's remains were transferred by the Normandy ship to Rouen and then La Dorade to sail up the Seine to Courbevoie near Paris (Monument), where they were moored on December 14, 1840. The Emperor's remains were temporarily placed in the Chapel of Saint Jerome du Dôme, pending completion of the tomb by the architect Louis Visconti. It will be done, but 20 years later. Napoleon gained his last resting place on April 2, 1861.

The military hospital of the War Invalids

In 1896, there were only about forty invalids in the hotel. In 1918, the hospital experienced a new influx of wounded people because of the First World War. In 1940, the residents were evacuated to the Orne area before returning for good in June 1941. In 1942, a resistance network took up residence at the foot of the Dome, allowing the escape of Allied airmen.

After the Second World War, the hospital took in many wounded, then those from the wars in Indochina and Algeria, or during external operations (OPEX) as well as the victims of accidents in the service of France.

The Hôtel-des-Invalides still has within its walls about a hundred major war invalids from the French armies. The administration in charge of this mission is the National Institution for the Invalids.

Moreover, the hospital is still in hospital activity, it has 13 places in day hospital. It is open to all (not only military personnel) as are all military hospitals located in France.

The museums of the Hôtel-des-Invalides and the Court of Honour

The buildings surrounding the Cour d'Honneur are now occupied by the Army Museum.

It is only from 1871, under the Third Republic, that the hotel was equipped with an artillery museum in 1872 and an army historical museum in 1896, joined together as an army museum in 1905. Today, it can be visited permanent collections and temporary documentary and artistic exhibitions:

  • Museum of 3D Planes,
  • Weapons and antique armor,
  • Weapons and antique armor,
  • Room Louis XIV and Napoleon,
  • The two world wars,
  • Unusual Cabinets Room,
  • Historial Charles de Gaulle,
  • Museum of the Order of the Liberation.

These collections can be consulted remotely on the internet from the museums' database.

The Hôtel-des-Invalides has also remained the emblematic Parisian venue of the French army, and as a result, the Invalides' courtyard of honor is a privileged setting for many military ceremonies.

Exceptionally, on Saturday, September 13, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a Mass on the Esplanade des Invalides in front of 260,000 people as part of his apostolic trip to France.

Administrative functions related to the Army and National Security

Les Invalides also houses the General Secretariat for Defense and National Security and the office of the military governor of Paris.

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Open
Open hours today: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Monday

    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

  • Tuesday

    10:00 am - 6:00 am

  • Wednesday

    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

  • Thursday

    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

  • Friday

    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

  • Saturday

    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

  • Sunday

    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

  • July 24, 2024 12:01 pm local time

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