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Hôtel National des Invalides and Napoleons Tomb

Hôtel national des Invalides is also very well known as just Les Invalides and is situated in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris.

It was in 1670 that King Louis XIV decided to found Les Invalides and the first stones were laid in 1671 near to what was then called the Grenelle Plain and the construction followed the plans that were originally drawn up by Libéral Bruant for a hospital and a home for disabled soldiers and the construction of the dome only began in 1706, which was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, but after he died in 1708 it was completed by de Cotte.

Hotel des Invalides

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Hotel National des Invalides and Napoleon

Les Invalides comprises the largest single collection and complex of monuments in Paris, which include the Musée de l'Armée, Musée des Plans-Reliefs, Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération, L'Eglise de St-Louis-des-Invalides but Les Invalides is probably best known for being the resting place of the Tomb of Napoleon.

Napoleon Bonaparte I had been exiled to the island of St Helena in 1815 and it was there that he died on 5th May in 1821 and was buried close to a spring, in the place known as Geranium Valley, where his remains stayed for almost 20 years, until 1840.

It was after seven years of negotiation with the British government that King Louis-Philippe of France obtained permission to bring back Napoleon's remains from St. Helena to rest in peace in France.

19 years after his death, on 8th October 1840 the coffin was exhumed and opened for opened for a couple of minutes to check that his remains were inside and apparently, those present claimed that his the body was still perfectly preserved.

The coffin was transported back to France by French sailors under the Prince de Joinville's command on board the frigate called La Belle Poule and upon its arrival at Le Havre was then transported up the River Seine to Paris where it landed at Courbevoie. 

And despite harsh winter weather, there was a state funeral held on 15th December 1840 with the hearse travelling from the Arc de Triomphe down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and across the Place de la Concorde to the Esplanade and finally to the cupola in St Jerome's Chapel where the coffin stayed until his tomb was constructed.

The tomb was only commissioned by King Louis-Philippe in 1842 and was the responsibility of the architect Visconti, who even had excavations done within the church to host the tomb, and the body of the Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte I was eventually laid there to rest on 2nd April 1861.

The tomb was crafted out of red porphyry imported from Russia and was placed on a green granite base from the Vosges area.  It is circled by a crown of laurels and inscriptions that are permanent reminders of the great victories of the Empire.  There is also a statue erected at the back of the crypt of the Emperor that bears the imperial emblems and is situated above the tombstone under which the King of Rome lies.

The tomb itself is very impressive and the unusual very well thought out design means that the visitor must bow to get a good look!

This is a very worthwhile place to visit and has become a pilgrimage for many over the years and you cannot help but be in awe of this fabulous building, Les Invalides.

This historic place is open from 10am through to 5pm during the winter months and does not close until 6pm in the summer months.

Address & Contact Details:

Hôtel National des Invalides
Esplanade des Invalides
129 rue de Grenelle

Telephone:  1 44 42 38 77

Hotel National des Invalides and Napoleons Tomb

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