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How to Visit Les Invalides in Paris and Napoleon's Tomb

The Invalides is one of the most important ceremonial spaces in France. Conceived as a military residence, today it is visited by thousands of tourists as the mausoleum of Napoleon Bonaparte. Are you going to miss a place with so much history?

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

12 min read

How to Visit Les Invalides in Paris and Napoleon's Tomb

Vista desde el jardín | ©joaquin Pons Sampedro

The history of France has had too many episodes ranging between the Monarchy and the Republic and, as a result, there are many monuments and military sites. The National Palace of the Invalides is one of the most famous of all. It was conceived as a residence for retired military personnel.

The French armed forces made use of this space as a hospital and shelter, 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. In addition, here you can visit different museums such as the Army Museum or the Museum of Plans and Reliefs. Are you going to miss it?

The best option

Paris Les Invalides Tickets

Visit one of France's most visited monuments and skip the lines

With this priority entrance 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 ticket for the Invalides in Paris, you will have access to both temporary and permanent exhibitions and you can visit comfortably and without queues one of the most visited monuments in France, located in the heart of Paris. This military building houses Napoleon's tomb and an important collection with half a million cataloged objects, including weapons and armor, dating from the thirteenth to the seventeenth 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 meters. At the Invalides you will also have access to the museum's modern collection that shows the bloodiest battles in the history of France, 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 lines at one of France's busiest monuments.


How much do tickets to the Invalides Museum cost?

ticket sales building| © Arthur Hinton
ticket sales building| © Arthur Hinton

Come on! This can in no way be an excuse. General admission to Les Invalides is usually 17 €, which is a very decent rate for all that this site has to offer.

From 5:00 pm, or two hours before closing, depending on the date, you can enjoy the whole complex with a reduced ticket that costs about 11 €.

Who can enjoy free admission

  • Children under 18 years old. So, if you go with your family and you are visiting Paris with children, it is an excellent alternative.
  • Children under 26 years old living in a European Union country.
  • Members of the French armed forces or other European countries.
  • People with reduced mobility.

Book your ticket for Les Invalides

How to get tickets for the Invalides museum at the ticket office

online tickets| © Mika Baumeister
online tickets| © Mika Baumeister

Tickets for Les Invalides can also be purchased directly at the ticket office. Although the museum itself recommends buying tickets online to avoid queues. Even so, you will always have the opportunity to buy them directly there, without inconvenience. Just go to the north or south entrance, where there will be ticket offices for ticket sales.

Ticket office hours

  • The ticket offices on the north side are located next to the Esplanade des Invalides and are usually open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., although on special days they may extend their opening hours.
  • The ticket offices on the south side, located next to Vauban Square, are only open Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.

Book your ticket for Les Invalides

Are tickets to the Musée des Invalides included in any of the city's tourist passes?

Aerial view of the Invalides museum| © Saurav Sahu
Aerial view of the Invalides museum| © Saurav Sahu

Of course! This palace is one of the most important architectural constructions in all of 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 more than 50 museums throughout Paris and its 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 are going to visit many museums in Paris, do not hesitate to save through one of these passes. But if you want an option where you can choose beyond 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 will be able to see other monuments and tours as well.

Book your ticket for Les Invalides

Are there special tickets for children?

two children making faces| © Austin Pacheco
two children making faces| © Austin Pacheco

No need: children get in for free. Anyone under the age of 18 gets free admission to the Invalides complex, both to the mausoleum and to the museums and the church. But not only: children under 26 years of age who can prove through a document their residence in a country of the European Union 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 the budget. When it is something at 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, recreational visits and guided tours, with a reduced rate of approximately €8 for children under 18 years of age. In the case of adults, these figures reach about 15 €, so the children's discount is too advantageous to pass up.

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Are there guided tours of the Musée des Invalides and is it worth it?

red chest on the table| ©Willie Medina Santiago
red chest on the table| ©Willie Medina Santiago

Of course there are and they can be very valuable to your experience but, like everything else, it will depend on what you are looking for. If you know little about history and want to learn, my advice is to select a guide who will surely be willing to contextualize every detail you will see in both museums, as well as in Napoleon's mausoleum and the church. No doubt that will be worth it, because you will learn and understand everything in much better detail.

The Army Museum itself provides you with guided tours organized by themselves, 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 composed of children under 26 years, there are many reductions depending on the day and the number of people to whom the guided tour is made.

Anyway, 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, as well as to follow the indications to reach Napoleon's tomb under the dome. Nothing to fear, it's all very simple.

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How to get to the Invalides Museum

two moving trains| © christian tokoto
two moving trains| © christian tokoto

Both by metro and by suburban train, the Invalides Museum is completely within your reach, through lines 8 and 13 of the metro and line C of the RER system, the main suburban train network of the city. Specifically, I recommend getting off at the Invalides station, which is part of these three lines and, after walking a few minutes, you can reach the north entrance of the complex. But it is not the only one.

You can also stay at La Tour Maubourg station on line 8 of the metro or Varennes station on line 13 which are closer to the Invalides itself, but not necessarily to the entrances. I recommend that, if you are entering from the south side, you get off at one 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 when you understand its line map.

If you are coming from or going to the suburbs, the RER line C will be perfect for you; and if not, you won't have any problem using the metro. On the other hand, if you get to use a bike as part of a tour or the Vélib' service, you should know that there are four stations around, so you can arrive and depart comfortably by bike.

Tourist bus

You may have purchased one of the city's best tourist buses. If that is the case, be sure that Les Invalides will be on one of the routes, so you can use it to come and go, depending on the schedule. For that, it is important that you make sure of the route with the company you choose.

Book the Big Bus tourist bus

What you can't miss at the Invalides Museum

red chest| ©Manuel López Castro
red chest| ©Manuel López Castro

The entire Invalides complex is not a traditional museum, so what you should not miss is the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, former French revolutionary leader turned emperor who scourged half of Europe. This is undoubtedly the most important part of this entire building, because around the crypt are also the mortal remains of other relatives of Napoleon.

Although it is the most important section of the Invalides and specifically, the Army Museum, not the only one you should take into account. I recommend that you also, within this museum, do not miss the collection of antique armor and weaponry of both world wars. This will allow you to see the evolution of all military weapons in France.

Additionally, if you visit the Museum of Plans and Reliefs, you should not miss for anything in the world the relief plan of the fortification of Bayonne that you will get just as you enter and which is one of the most impressive of the entire museum. There are numerous collections here, although the exhibits are usually temporary and vary, but generally focus on reliefs of fortifications and military constructions.

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How much time do you need to visit the Invalides museum?

People visiting Napoleon's tomb| ©Presidencia de la República Mexicana
People visiting Napoleon's tomb| ©Presidencia de la República Mexicana

I recommend that you spend no 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 about two or three hours, depending on how thoroughly you want to see each of the exhibits that explain the evolution of the French armed forces.

On the other hand, the other two museums, the Order of the Liberation and the Plans and Reliefs are much smaller, but have really exciting exhibitions, so I would recommend that you do not miss the opportunity and spend at least an hour each, to see them in great detail.

To all this, you have to add that, regardless of the museums, the Invalides is one of the most beautiful palaces in all of Paris. Seeing this site deserves your attention, so you can detail its dome, but also its internal gardens and rooms. It is a magnificent space to take pictures and delight you. None of this is at odds with the possibility that you make an express visit of about two hours, especially if you have no major interest in the themes of the museum exhibitions.

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Opening hours of the Invalides museum

Family posing for a photo| ©Fernando Echeverria
Family posing for a photo| ©Fernando Echeverria

The Army Museum, the main part of the whole Invalides Palace, opens at 10 am and closes at 6 pm; although on Tuesdays they have a special night day that makes them close at 9 pm. 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 only the palace to know its structure, you should know that it works in the same schedule of the Army Museum, which depends on it. This is also true for the Museum of Plans and Reliefs which, however, closes at 5 pm between October and March, the coldest months. For that 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 January 1, May 1 and December 25, so you will have almost any day to visit. Also note that the ticket offices close half an hour before the closing time of the museums and the palace, so try to plan your entrance at least at 5:30 pm. My advice is to go in the morning so you can leave around 2pm and enjoy lunch nearby.

Traveller Tip

Occasionally, the church is closed for liturgical reasons or even, the Army Museum may close for military commemorations. This is very unusual, but it is important to find out before you go so you don't get a fiasco.

Tips for visiting the Invalides museum

Man in front of the Musée des Invalides| ©christian cardona suárez
Man in front of the Musée des Invalides| ©christian cardona suárez

The Invalides is one of the best palaces in Paris and one of the must-see and must-do plans in Paris. To get the best experience, you have to take into consideration a number of details:

  • 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 the Parisian public transportation, try to study the metro or RER map a bit beforehand, so you will arrive at the station without confusion.
  • If you can buy tickets online and skip the possible queues, it is best. Remember that the south entrance, including its ticket office, is only open on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, so there may be more crowds at the north entrance and that may cause delays in your plans.
  • Do not forget your smartphone or camera to immortalize this space, as you will be able to take many photos, although with certain limitations.

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This is the Invalides museum store

military relics| ©Osmar Valdebenito
military relics| ©Osmar Valdebenito

Are you a fan of museum stores, 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-bookstore, where in addition to having the traditional souvenirs, will be at your fingertips also more than 2 thousand reference guides of own collections of military history.

For that reason, if you are looking to learn about military history, this is your site. Please note that the store is open between October and March, from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. On the other hand, between April and October, they are open from 10 am to 6 pm, every day of the week.

Although this is the only store, in the Museum of Plans and Reliefs there is another bookshop offering a collection of in-depth studies of plans-reliefs, medieval fortifications and French forts in general, as well as works in English. And do you want to take home a souvenir? Here you can buy the most original ones, because you will have from children's games, to models to build, historical figures, medals, miniature cannons and many other things. Are you going to stay without buying something?

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Where to eat near Les Invalides

People holding two coffees and a wine| © Nathan Dumlao
People holding two coffees and a wine| © Nathan Dumlao

Whether before or after your visit, eating is important, particularly if it is lunch. So, you have different options. Right inside the National Palace of Les Invalides you have two restaurants or cafes, very select and that, depending on your budget, can be a great option.

  • In the Café-restaurant Le Carré des Invalides you can buy pastries for about 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 cafe or as its name says, a tea room offering French pastry delicacies, sandwiches and drinks. This cafe only works in the warm months, between April and November, because it is in the garden and its cost is higher.
  • 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, you must walk a few streets and you will find a place where you will undoubtedly be full for just over 13 €. You will have a full meal, with an international menu based on meats, side dishes, drink and dessert.

Book your ticket for Les Invalides