Napoleon Bonaparte I and the Tomb of Napoleon at Les Invalides in Paris

Les Invalides is a fascinating tourist attraction in Paris with many museums, fantastic architecture, amazing history and others to keep you entertained but one of the things you can also visit is the famous Tomb of Napoleon.

A bit of history on the well known emperor can help give an insight to the past history and what happened before we move onto the crypt or the tomb of Napoleon.

Napoleon Bonaparte I was from the island, Corsica, born in 1769 he was educated in military school and soon made his way through the ranks until he was commander of the French army in Italy, where he forced Austria and their allies to make peace.

Some years later a new threat loomed when Russia and Austria allied with Britain and Bonaparte returned to Paris as the government were in a crisis.

The year 1800 Napoleon Bonaparte I defeated the Austrians and negotiated a peace treaty, making France have the controlling power over Europe.. Thanks to that victory he was made a Consul for life and saw the making of the Bank of France, centralisation of the government and re-instatement of the Catholic religion.

But in only 1803 Britain had continued war against France, in 1804 Napoleon was made Emperor and rather than attempting to invade England after a defeat at Trafalgar in 1805 he focused on Russia and Austria and became victorious after the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, which again gained control of Europe.

After that same victory is when he decided that a triumphal arch should be created so that his armies could march on their way home to Paris. Said arch is now the well known Arc de Triomphe and is now found at the Place Charles-de-Gaulle , which is one of the squares in Paris that was originally known as the Place Etoile. Yet he also had the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel constructed, which is located by the Tuileries Gardens of the Musee du Louvre.

The Holy Roman Empire dissolved and over the course of the next few years Napoleon placed family members and loyalists as leaders of other countries such as Spain, Holland and Italy. Yet when the Peninsular War began in 1808 it had a massive impact on France, draining their resources rather dramatically.

In 1814 Paris itself fell and Bonaparte went into exile on an Island in the Mediterranean. Although he did manage to escape, he quickly marched on Paris, the Battle of Waterloo ended his second but short reign and he became imprisoned on an Atlantic island by the British.

But it was on this remote island, St Helena, that he died in 1821, May 5th, and was buried a few days later on the estate of Mr Richard Torbett close to a spring. And even if his request to be buried along the river banks of the River Seine to be amongst his people, this never happened.

In fact it was almost over twenty years and it took seven years of negotiations from King Louis Philippe and the British government in order to bring Napoleons remains back so he could eventually rest in peace.

In 1840 King Louis Philippe chose Louis Visconti, an Italian born French architect to create a tomb that would accommodate the remains and be placed within the Eglise du Dome in Les Invalides.

It took just under six months for the full trip to be taken and for the coffin to be returned to Paris, but shortly after on the 15th December the state funeral was held in Paris. During the procession, Napoleons coffin briefly rested under the Arc de Triomphe, which is another tourist attractions in Paris but was ordered to be built by him, even though he never saw it completed.

From there the coffin and procession headed down the famous Champs Elysees Avenue, across the River Seine and eventually to the park to Les Invalides.

The Tomb of Napoleon itself is found within a circular crypt in the Eglise du Dome which had to go under major reconstructions and transformations for it to seem fit for the visions of the architect Cisconti. With a gallery which surrounds the tomb, depicting Napoleons civil achievements which were all created by the sculptor Pierre-Charles Simart.

The body of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte rests within five coffins, which are made of tin, mahogany, lead, another lead and finally ebony all held within a sarcophagus which is found in the middle of the crypt.

The sarcophagus is made from red quartzite from Russia and is placed on a green granite base that came from the Alsace region of France in the Vosges mountains, circled by laurels and inscriptions.

There are also various sculptures to show the military victories of Napoleon places around the tomb of Napoleon which were made by Jean-Jacques Pradier as well as inscriptions on the polychrome marble floor to state eight famous victories.

At the side of the crypt there is a small chamber with a statue of Napoleon in his coronation robes and beneath that statue lays the remains of Napoleon II, who was his only legitimate son and was also known as The Eaglet.

For this reason a visit to Les Invalides is a great experience to see and appreciate the incredible architecture and history behind the Tomb of Napoleon but also the other things within Les Invalides which includes three museums in Paris such as the impressive Musee de l’Armee and much more while you are on holiday in Paris.

Les Invalides with the Tomb of Napoleon and its impressive museums in Paris

The Hotel National des Invalides is perhaps more well known as simply Les Invalides, and is just one of the many great monuments in Paris which you can find around. Originally thought of in 1670 by King Louis XIV for a place to hold war veterans which were no longer able to fight for the country.

This place is a fantastic place to go to if you are interested in history, and especially military history in particular, with a very rich history of Les Invalides but also having the Tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte I as well.


To expand on the Tomb of Napoleon, as most people know who Napoleon is, and was, a major part of history and still is, being taught throughout schools of his influence throughout French military history. And some twenty years after the man’s death his remains were brought upstream along the River Seine to Paris.

Once his remains were there he had a state funeral which ventured through Paris and paused briefly at the Arc de Triomphe which was built to the commands of himself, from there it went down the Champs Elysees avenue and eventually to the Hotel des Invalides, where he now rests within the military building and the Eglise du Dome church.

But incredible architecture, church and Tomb of Napoleon is not all that this tourist attractions in Paris has to offer.

In fact it can boast that it has the largest single collection and complex in comparison to any other monument throughout the capital city, most well known for the military exhibitions but also an amazing three different museums you can visit, as well as the unique collections held at the Hotel National des Invalides.

To begin you firstly have the Musee des Plans Reliefs which is a museum dedicated to three dimensional models of forts, towns and regions of France produced by the military.

Incredibly there are only 100 of these models in existence now and with some of them held at the Beau-Arts Museum in the region Nord Pas de Calais, yet most of them are held at Les Invalides since the 1700’s when they were moved from the Louvre Museum.

The large scale models on display have become a great insight for architectural history to see how it was in the past to how things have changed since then, some of the model plans dating back to 1668, making for a very intriguing collection.

Another museum, the Musee de l’Ordre de la Liberation is a French museum in Paris dedicated to those who came together during World War II at the core of the Resistance movement.

Musee de l’Ordre de la Liberation focuses on many different documents, letters, postcards, souvenirs, personal letters, artefacts and even uniforms which were used during the war. The museum is split down into three sections; Free France gallery, Resistance and Hall of Honour which is dedicated to General de Gaulle. Making this museum another interesting yet intriguing place to visit to understand the war and what those times were like.

The third museum is no other than the well known Musee de l’Armee which is one of the more conclusive and amazing military history museums in the world with exhibitions featuring everything right back to the Middle Ages.

Holding various types of armour, arms, uniforms and much more, anyone with a slight interest should have the Musee de l’Armee army museum as one on their list to visit. But not forgetting the cannons from the French artillery, hunting weapons, firearms, knives and much more to be impressed with when you visit while on holiday in Paris.

But even if the museum holds the third largest collection of antique armour in the world it is still very interactive with touch screens to hand and a whole section with commentaries related to Charles de Gaulle.

In addition to all of that there is also a theatre at Les Invalides which projects a whole century, starting from the Edwardian period through to the pop years which include many famous and loved people including that of Charlie Chaplin. As well as having audio guides in eight different languages.

The Hotel National des Invalides is open every day except for the first Monday in a month and the interactive area with Charles de Gaulle is also closed each Monday, as well as obviously being closed for national French holidays. Les Invalides opens from 10am through to 5pm, and during the summer months of April to the end of September it has an extra hour until 6pm.

The ticket office being found near the south entrance near the Eglise du Dome and the Tomb of Napoleon as well as at the north entrance near Cour d’Honneur which is also noticeable by the cannons.

A ticket allows you to see everything as said above as well as the chance to visit the gift shop, a book shop with many various books to chose from, a cafeteria if you want a break and the free audio guide provided for the interactive section when you visit this monument in Paris and its museums while on holiday in Paris, making a very informational yet interesting tourist attraction to visit.