Destination: Paris
Top Ten
1 Centre Georges Pompidou
2 Les Champs-Elysées
3 La Grande Arche de la Défense
4 Les Invalides
5 Le Louvre
6 Notre-Dame
7 Orsay, Musée d'
8 Les Quais
9 La Tour Eiffel
10 La Villette
4 Les Invalides

This is one of Paris's most imposing architectural ensembles , built around two churches and housing several museums.

The Hôtel National des Invalides was commissioned by Louis XIV as a home for wounded soldiers. It is a splendid example of 17th-century architecture, the classical austerity of its 200m-long façade being offset by the baroque features of the Eglise du Dôme, with its gilt dome glittering above the slate roofs of the stone buildings. The huge esplanade filling the gap between the river and the monumental entrance enhances the majesty of the building.

The museums are accessible from the arcaded main courtyard. The Musée de l'Armée is one of the richest museums of its kind in the world; it deals with military history as well as the technical aspects of war. It contains weapons from all over the world, armour and uniforms, mementoes of famous generals, paintings, documents and models.

The Musée des Plans-Reliefs, on the fourth floor, is a fascinating collection of models of fortified French towns, originally started at Louis XIV's request.

On the far side of the courtyard is the entrance to St-Louis-des-Invalides, the soldiers' church, which contains a colourful collection of flags brought back from various campaigns; the organ here dates from the 17th century.

The magnificent Eglise du Dôme, built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, is a striking contrast: an elegant façade with two tiers of Doric and Corinthian columns and an imposing gilt dome surmounted by a slender lantern. The splendid interior decoration is enhanced by the inlaid marble floor. The open circular crypt houses Napoleon's red porphyry tomb.

Address: Esplanade des Invalides, 75007 Paris
Phone: 01 44 42 37 72
Open: Daily 10-5 (6 in summer). Closed 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 Nov, 25 Dec; Musée des Plans-Reliefs closes 12:30-2
Restaurant: Restaurant (Inexpensive)
Bus: 82, 92 IGood
Metro: Invalides, Latour Maubourg
Admission: Moderate
Practical: Audio-visual shows, guided tours, shops
French Riviera
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