Hôtel des Invalides
Lonely Planet review for Hôtel des Invalides
Fronted by a 500m-long expanse of lawn known as the Esplanade des Invalides, the Hôtel des Invalides was built in the 1670s by Louis XIV to provide housing for 4000 invalides (disabled war veterans). On 14 July 1789, a mob forced its way into the building and, after fierce fighting, seized 32,000 rifles before heading on to the prison at Bastille and the start of the French Revolution. At the southern end of the esplanade, laid out between 1704 and 1720, is the final resting place of Napoleon.
In the Cour d’Honneur, the Musée de l’Armée holds the nation’s largest collection on the history of the French military. South is Église St-Louis des Invalides, once used by soldiers, and Église du Dôme which, with its sparkling golden dome (1677–1735), is one of the finest religious edifices erected under Louis XIV and was the inspiration for the United States Capitol building. It received the remains of Napoleon in 1840. The extravagant Tombeau de Napoléon 1er, in the centre of the church, comprises six coffins fitting into one another like a Russian doll.
Admission includes entry to all the sights in Hôtel des Invalides, including the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, an esoteric museum full of scale models of towns, fortresses and châteaux across France.