Today’s Places of Paris is Les Invalides, located in the 7th arrondissement.
This was one of the biggest surprise visits for me in Paris. I never imagined what I saw in the Dôme des Invalides, which is the burial site for Napoleon Bonaparte. This is why I will only show one photo from inside the building, to keep it a surprise for anyone who has not yet visited !
In 1670, Louis XIV initiated a project to create a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers. Louis XIV selected Libéral Bruant as architect with assistance by Jules Hardouin Mansart. Jules was considered one of the most important European architects of the 17th century, also responisible for Place des Victoires (Paris), Place Vendôme (Paris), all extensions at Versailles (including the Royal Chapel) and the Grand Trianon (Versailles). Les Invalides has seen many events during its time. On the 14th of July 1789 it was stormed by rioters who stole cannons that would be used later that day for the storming of the Bastille. In 1840, Napoleon Bonaparte was entombed under the dome of Invalides. He was first buried in another chapel in Les Invalides until his tomb made of red quarzite was finished in 1861. The building retained its primary use as a retirement home and hospital up until the early 20th century. At this time there was a reduction in numbers of veterans so they were dispersed to smaller homes.
Les Invalides is enormous. It’s a complex of buildings which house the Musée de l’Armée (military museum), Musée des Plans-Reliefs (military models museum) and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine (contemporary history museum). There is a lot to see so it is recommended at least half a day minimum.
The dome is magnificent and my favourite part of the complex, it was inspired by St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
I have been lucky to visit Les Invalides in sunshine and in snow. We had a nice amount of snow in the winter of January 2013 and I enjoyed visiting the gardens that were covered in thick snow. It’s a beautiful site in the early evening with the sun as you come across Pont Alexandre III from the Champs Élysées.
For more information on visiting times and prices, you can visit the website here