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Les Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb and The French Army Museum | Things to do in Paris with kids

I studied abroad in Paris and have visited Paris on vacation but never found the opportunity to visit Les Invalides. What an oversight. This place is great!

If I had to rank at this point what the kids (and Keith and I) have enjoyed most in Paris, Les Invalides and the French Army Museum is right at the top.

We started our walk to Invalides from Pont Alexandre III. The old army hospital buildings and glittering gold dome is very impressive from that distance. As you get closer and pass through the huge iron gates, it gets even more impressive. From the manicured trees to the cobblestone entry (that I can just envision horse drawn carriages transporting injured soldiers to the hospital) to the display of canons in the courtyard – this place is just awesome. Couple that with Napoleon’s tomb and the army museum and you have a perfect sightseeing day.

My first thought about Napoleon’s tomb was – “Wow that guy had a big ego”. While he certainly did think highly of himself – it was actually not his doing that he ended up with this monster tomb. Napoleon died in exile on the island of St Helena in 1821. For nearly 20 years his remains were buried near a spring under some trees. Very simple and plain. In 1840, it was King Louis Phillipe who had Napoleon moved back to Paris. The tomb was ready in 1861 and Napoleon has been there ever since.

After the visit to Napoleon’s tomb – we stopped into the very well appointed coffee shop before entering the French Army Museum. They have traditional french sandwiches, an espresso bar and a great selection of desserts. Never a bad idea to give the kids a rest and fill them up before the next leg of our tour.

We started our tour of the museum in the antique armors and arms area. The kids just loved the decorated swords, medieval weapons and suits of arms (for man and horse). We practically had to tear them away to continue the tour. From there we toured the area dedicated to wars from Louis XIV to Napoleon. The kids loved listening on headsets as battles were played out in front of them on a display. The uniforms and artillery were eye catching. Everything is so amazingly displayed. Gabby took a stack of pictures of Napoleon’s stuffed horse – she couldn’t get enough of the museum. From there onto WWI and WWII and a special area about Charles de Gaulle. The current temporary exhibition is the French – Algerian War.

This museum was a huge hit. There is a lot to cover in this museum but because each area is completely different than the one previously visited, the kids did not get bored at all. This is museum is a must if you are visiting Paris with kids!

{As with most Paris museums, adults pay full price and children are free. The one ticket gives you access to both Napoleon’s tomb and the museum.}

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