The history of France has had too many episodes ranging from the Monarchy to the Republic and, as a result, there are many monuments and military sites. The National Palace of Invalides is one of the most famous of them all. It was conceived as a residence for retired military personnel.
The French armed forces made use of this space as a hospital and refuge, but that is not why it is so well known. The most important thing is that under the great dome is the mausoleum of Napoleon Bonaparte. You can also visit different museums such as the Army Museum and the Museum of Plans and Reliefs. Are you going to miss it?
Visit one of France's most visited monuments and skip the queues
With this priority entrance ticket to one of the most visited monuments in France you will have access to the permanent and temporary exhibitions, and you will be able to visit the Army Museum, the Museum of Plans and Reliefs and Napoleon's tomb.
With your priority entrance ticket for Les Invalides in Paris, you will have access to both the temporary and permanent exhibitions and you can visit one of the most visited monuments in France, located in the heart of Paris, comfortably and without queues. This military building houses Napoleon's tomb and an important collection with half a million catalogued objects, including weapons and armour, dating from the 13th to the 17th century.
Specifically, the Musée de l'Armée de Paris is one of the three largest arms museums in the world. It was built between 1677 and 1706 and has an imposing golden vault of more than 100 metres. At the Invalides you will also have access to the museum's modern collection that shows the bloodiest battles in French history, and you will learn what a soldier's day-to-day life was like during the war.
Recommended if... you want to avoid the long queues at one of France's busiest monuments.
How much do tickets to the Musée des Invalides cost?
Come on! This is by no means an excuse. General admission to Les Invalides is usually €17, which is a very decent rate for all this site has to offer.
From 5pm, or two hours before closing time, depending on the date, you can enjoy the whole complex with a reduced ticket costing around €11.
Who can enjoy free admission
- Children under the age of 18. So, if you are visiting Paris with your family and children, this is an excellent alternative.
- Under 26s living in an EU country.
- Members of the French armed forces or other European countries.
- People with reduced mobility.
How to get tickets for the Musée des Invalides at the ticket office
Tickets for Les Invalides can also be purchased directly from the ticket office. However, the museum itself recommends buying tickets online to avoid queues. Even so, you will always have the opportunity to buy them directly there, without any inconvenience. All you have to do is go to the north or south entrance, where there will be ticket offices for ticket sales.
Ticket office opening hours
- The ticket offices on the north side are located next to the Esplanade des Invalides and are usually open from 10am to 5.30pm, although on special days they may be open longer.
- The ticket offices on the south side, located next to the Place Vauban, are only open on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am to 5.30pm.
Are tickets to the Musée des Invalides included in any of the city's tourist passes?
Of course! This palace is one of the most important architectural constructions in Paris and, for this reason, the entrance to the Invalides is included in tourist passes such as the Paris Museum Pass. This pass, which you can buy at the museum's ticket office, allows you to visit over 50 museums throughout Paris and the cost depends on whether you buy it for two, four or six days.
- The two-day pass is just over €50.
- The four-day pass is around €65.
- The six-day pass costs around €80.
If you're going to visit a lot of museums in Paris, don't hesitate to save on one of these passes. But if you want an option where you can choose more than just museums, then you can buy the Paris Passlib, in any of its plans: Mini, City, Explore or Prestige. This pass allows you to select a few activities from a long list, so you'll be able to see other monuments and tours as well.
Are there special tickets for children?
No need: children get in free. All children under the age of 18 get free admission to the Invalides complex, both to the mausoleum and to the museums and church. But not only: children under the age of 26 who can show proof of residence in a European Union country can also enter for free.
If you were wondering what to see and do in Paris with children, Les Invalides should be among your choices if your priority is budget. When it is something on a higher level than a regular visit, children's tickets are priced, but still at a reduced rate. This is the case, for example, for workshops, fun visits and guided tours, with a reduced rate of approximately €8 for children under the age of 18. For adults, these figures are around €15, so the children's discount is too good to pass up.
Are there guided tours of the Musée des Invalides and is it worth it?
Of course there are and they can be very valuable to your experience but, like everything else, it depends on what you are looking for. If you know little about history and want to learn, my advice is to choose a guide who will surely be willing to contextualise every detail you will see in both museums, as well as in Napoleon's mausoleum and the church. It will certainly be worth it, as you will learn and understand everything in much better detail.
The Army Museum itself provides you with guided tours organised by them, through their partner Cultival. In that case, the entrance fee for adults is around €20, while for children under 18 it is around €8. But if you go in a large group and if that group is made up of under 26s, there are many reductions depending on the day and the number of people on the guided tour.
In any case, hiring a guided tour is not essential to enjoy and learn about history. It is enough to understand the texts in English or French in the museums, and to follow the directions to Napoleon's tomb under the dome. Nothing to be afraid of, it's all very simple.
How to get to the Invalides Museum
Whether by metro or suburban train, the Invalides Museum is within easy reach on lines 8 and 13 of the metro and line C of the RER system, the city's main suburban train network. Specifically, I recommend getting off at the Invalides station, which is part of these three lines and which, after a few minutes' walk, will take you to the north entrance to the complex. But it's not the only one.
You can also stay at La Tour Maubourg station on metro line 8 or Varennes station on line 13, which are closer to Les Invalides itself, but not necessarily to the entrances. I recommend that, if you are entering from the south side, you get off at either of these two stations. Neither of them will be a problem and don't worry if you don't know how to use the Paris metro yet, because the system is quite intuitive once you understand the line map.
If you are coming from or going to the suburbs, line C of the RER will be perfect for you; otherwise, you won't have any problem using the metro. On the other hand, if you're using a bike as part of a tour or the Vélib' service, there are four stations around, so you'll be able to arrive and depart comfortably by bike.
You may have purchased one of the city's best tourist buses. If that's the case, you can be sure that Les Invalides will be on one of the routes, so you can use it to go back and forth, depending on the schedule. For that, it's important to check the route with the company you choose.
What you can't miss at the Invalides Museum
The entire Invalides complex is not a traditional museum, so the last thing you should miss is the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, the former French revolutionary leader turned emperor who scourged half of Europe. This is undoubtedly the most important part of the whole building, as around the crypt you will also find the mortal remains of Napoleon's other relatives.
Although this is the most important section of Les Invalides, and specifically of the Army Museum, it is not the only one you should take into account. I recommend that you don't miss the collection of antique armour and weaponry from both world wars. This will allow you to see the evolution of all military weapons in France.
In addition, if you visit the Museum of Plans and Reliefs, you should not miss the relief plan of the fortification of Bayonne, which you will get just as you enter and which is one of the most impressive in the whole museum. There are numerous collections here, although the exhibits tend to be temporary and vary, but in general they focus on reliefs of fortifications and military constructions.
How much time do you need to visit the Musée des Invalides?
I recommend that you don't spend less than half a day to visit this entire palace, especially if you want to do more than just visit Napoleon's tomb. At the Army Museum, you can easily spend two or three hours, depending on how much detail you want to take in each of the exhibits that explain the evolution of the French armed forces.
On the other hand, the other two museums, the Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération and the Musée des Plans et Reliefs are much smaller, but they have really exciting exhibitions, so I would recommend that you don't miss the opportunity to spend at least an hour at each one, to see them in great detail.
In addition, apart from the museums, Les Invalides is one of the most beautiful palaces in the whole of Paris. Seeing this place deserves your attention, so that you can see its dome in detail, but also its internal gardens and rooms. It is a magnificent place to take pictures and enjoy yourself. None of this is at odds with the possibility of an express visit of about two hours, especially if you are not very interested in the themes of the museum exhibitions.
Invalides museum opening hours
The Army Museum, the main part of the entire Invalides Palace, opens at 10am and closes at 6pm, although on Tuesdays there is a special evening opening day which closes at 9pm. On this night access day, you can only enter the dome of Napoleon's tomb, the temporary exhibitions, the department dedicated to Louis XIV-Napoleon, among a few others.
If you are interested in visiting just the palace to see its structure, you should know that it works the same hours as the Army Museum, on which it depends. This is also true of the Museum of Plans and Reliefs, which, however, closes at 5 pm between October and March, the coldest months. For this reason, if you visit Paris in winter, it is important to leave a little in advance.
Throughout the year, the only days the museums and the palace are closed are 1 January, 1 May and 25 December, so you will have practically any day to visit. Also note that the ticket offices close half an hour before the closing time of the museums and palace, so try to plan your entrance at least at 5.30pm. My advice is to go in the morning so you can leave around 2pm and enjoy lunch nearby.
Occasionally the church is closed for liturgical reasons or even the Army Museum may close for military commemorations. This is very unusual, but it's important to find out before you go so that you don't have a fiasco.
Tips for visiting the Invalides Museum
The Invalides is one of the best palaces in Paris and one of the must-sees and must-do's in Paris. To get the best experience, there are a number of things to take into consideration:
- About the influx of tourists: although it is not the most central place to visit, it receives a lot of tourists and that is why I recommend you to try to visit it as soon as it opens, at 10 am.
- If you are not very familiar with Parisian public transport, try to study the metro or RER map beforehand, so that you arrive at the station without confusion.
- If you can buy tickets online and skip the queues, it's best. Remember that the south entrance, including the ticket office, is only open on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, so there may be more crowds at the north entrance, which can delay your plans.
- Don't forget your smartphone or camera to immortalise this space, as you'll be able to take plenty of photos, albeit with certain limitations.
This is the Invalides museum shop
Are you a fan of museum shops, souvenirs, diaries and pens? Well, in the Army Museum which is the main institution of the National Palace of the Invalides, you can find a wonderful shop-bookshop, where besides the traditional souvenirs, you will also find more than 2 thousand reference guides of military history collections.
So, if you are looking to learn about military history, this is the place for you. Please note that the shop is open between October and March, from 1pm to 5pm from Monday to Friday and from 11am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. However, between April and October, they are open from 10 am to 6 pm, every day of the week.
Although this is the only shop, the Museum of Plans and Reliefs has another bookshop with a collection of in-depth studies of plans and reliefs, medieval fortifications and French forts in general, as well as works in English. And you want to take home a souvenir? You can buy all sorts of original souvenirs here, from children's games to models to build, historical figures, medals, miniature cannons and many other things. Are you going to miss out on buying something?
Where to eat near Les Invalides
Whether before or after your visit, eating is important, particularly if it's lunch. So you have a number of options. Inside the Palais National des Invalides itself, there are two very select restaurants or cafés which, depending on your budget, can be a great option.
- At the Café-restaurant Le Carré des Invalides you can buy pastries for around €10, sandwiches for just over €6 and even lunch menus that, depending on what you order, range from €7 to €20.
- The other alternative, inside Les Invalides, is the Salon de thé Angelina which is really close to Napoleon's tomb and is more of a café or as the name says, a tea room offering French pastry delicacies, sandwiches and drinks. This café only operates in the warmer months, between April and November, because it is in the garden and costs more.
- Au Canon des Invalides, located at 54 Rue Saint-Dominique, is your best option if you want to have lunch and save money in a traditional restaurant. To get there, walk a few streets and you'll find a place where you'll no doubt be full for just over €13. You'll get a full meal, with an international menu based on meats, side dishes, drink and dessert.