Part of the Parisian skyline since the reign of Louis XIV, the Hôtel des Invalides can be seen from almost anywhere in Paris thanks to its immediately recognizable golden dome.
Built in 1670 on the orders of Louis XIV to shelter sick, wounded, and retired veterans, the Parisian landmark still serves this purpose today, now also housing several museums, the offices of few high ranking military officials, and a military pantheon including Napoleon’s tomb.
Les Invalides is actually a large complex of multiple buildings and a remarkable 17 different courtyards. The main courtyard facing the Seine, La Cour de l’Honneur, as well as the Cathédrale Saint-Louis-des-Invalides are open to the public free of charge. You can see centuries-old canons up close, admire the impressive architecutre, contemplate or worship in the cathedral, and maybe even get an impromptu organ concert (if you’re as lucky as I was!).
Tickets are required, however, to see the tomb of Napoleon I inside the Dôme des Invalides or to visit the national military museum, Le Musée de l’Armée, a museum with some 500,000 artifacts including weapons, armor, uniforms, and more, retracing the history of armed forces from ancient to modern times.
Tickets are 15€ for adults for acess to the Dome and the museum’s permanent collections with a digital guide, or 12€ without guide. Tickets are free for those under 18, and a free kids’ Game Booklet is also available for download from the Museum’s Official Website.