Flanked by the 500m-long Esplanade des Invalides lawns, the Hôtel des Invalides was built in the 1670s by Louis XIV to house 4000 invalides (disabled war veterans). On 14 July 1789, a mob broke into the building and seized 32,000 rifles before heading on to the prison at Bastille and the start of the French Revolution.

Admission includes entry to all Hôtel des Invalides sights (temporary exhibitions cost extra). Hours for individual sites often vary – check the website for updates.

In the Cour d’Honneur, the nation’s largest collection on the history of the French military is displayed at the Musée de l'Armée. 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. Scale models of towns, fortresses and châteaux across France fill the esoteric Musée des Plans-Reliefs.

Atmospheric classical concerts (ranging from €5 to €30) take place regularly here year-round.