|Hôtel des Invalides, Paris, France
|Visit to see the Tomb of Napoleon and the Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum), perhaps the largest and finest military museum in the world.
Built by King Louis XIV as a hospital and home for wounded war veterans, Paris's Hôtel National des Invalides, a 15-minute walk northeast of the École Militaire and 25 minutes walk east of the Eiffel Tower (map), still performs these functions as well as providing office space for numerous departments of the French armed forces.
The Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum) is perhaps the greatest military museum in the world, with thousands upon thousands of weapons, suits of armor, cannons, battle flags, and every other sort of military paraphernalia. Its collections run from weapons and arms of the middle ages to the contemporary. You can see armor made for King François I (and his horse) in 1539. Later in your visit there are extensive exhibits about the world wars.
The great red granite sarcophagus beneath the gilded dome is that of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Corsican upstart who made himself Emperor of France. Referred to as L'Église du Dôme, the gilded dome is a familiar view in Paris. The church was designed by Hardouin-Mansart and is lushly decorated.
Exiled twice after the collapse of his megalomaniac military campaigns ended in disaster and defeat, Napoleon's remains were brought to this monumental resting-place in 1840, almost two decades after his death. Napoleon's brothers and son (the so-called "King of Rome") are buried here too, as is Maréchal Foch, the victorious French general of World War I.
It is truly a world museum of the martial arts and sciences, with ancient spear- and arrowheads, booty captured during the Crusades, and soldiers' trophies from battles with France's European neighbors and also with the Turks, the Arabs, the Chinese, the Japanese, and many other peoples.
If you like military history lore, you must visit Les Invalides.
Paris Museum Pass accepted. Closed on the first Monday of each month (only the Dome Church, Cathedral, and artillery trail are open on these Mondays, except in the summer, when the whole museum is open).
National des Invalides