Invalides and The Musée d'Orsay

Famous art and artists, Napoleon’s Tomb and a different character make the Invalides another of the popular areas in Paris.Our guide to the best places to visit in the Invalides and Surrounding Areas includes: the Musée D’Orsay (Impressionist art), the Musée Rodin (sculpture) and Saint Louis des Invalides, a beautiful church that houses Napoleon’s impressive tomb.

The Musée D’Orsay is a spectacular place to visit that combines important art in an incredibly attractive setting. However, visiting the D’Orsay and the Rodin Museum on the same day is not recommended. We suggest you visit them on separate days to avoid overdosing on art.

Touring Saint Louis des Invalides and the Hôtel des Invalides are good add-ons after visiting either museum.

Invalides and Surrounding Attractions

The Invalides neighborhood merges with the Eiffel Tower area on the west and Saint Germain-de -Pres on the East. It is delightful neighborhood to walk, offering two great museums and the final resting place of Napoleon.

Musée d’Orsay

Musée d'Orsay
Musée d’Orsay – Photo credit: Bert Kaufmann

(7th arrondissement) (L) –

The grand museum of the Impressionists and post-Impressionist artists is housed in the former d’Orsay train station. This well designed museum provides an excellent venue for the masterpieces of the many of the leading Impressionists (e.g. Manet, Degas, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, and Sisley).  Post-Impressionists are represented by Gauguin, Van Gogh, Seurat and other notable masters. The d’Orsay also has fine collections of sculptures, photographs and the graphic arts. If you like art, the d’Orsay is a must see.

The d’Orsay’s finished a major renovation in 2011. The  viewing rooms have been redesigned and the museum’s layout  has been streamlined making seeing the art very efficient and easy to process.  However, your time here will pass quickly, as the collection has many famous works that will undoubtedly attract your attention.   You should allot two to three hours to view the highlights of these collections. For more information, visit the museum’s official website. Closed on Mondays.

Musée Rodin
Musée Rodin – Photo credit: SamwiseGamgee69

Musée Rodin

(7th arrondissement) (L) –

Located on the east side of Boulevard Des Invalides at 79, rue de Varenne, this museum has the world’s best collection of Rodin’s sculptures and houses his personal art collection.The museum’s Sculpture Garden is very enjoyable and the collection is magnificent. The museum’s  official website can be found here.  Closed Mondays, the Musée Rodin is open from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. and the last tickets are sold at 5:15.  The Garden closes at 5:00.

The Museum is closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25.

Saint Louis des Invalides

(7th  arrondissement) (R) –

The Invalides is a complex of buildings that include several museums and l’Eglise de St. Louis des Invalides. The St Louis des Invalides Church is tall, capped with an impressive drum and an ornate, gilded dome.The Eglise contains the graves of many of France’s military heroes, but is noted for the a rotunda with an open crypt that  houses the sarcophagus and remains of Napoleon I. Napoleon died in 1821 during his exile on the isle of St. Helena and his body was returned to Paris in 1840. The internment ceremony in the Eglise de Saint Louis did not occur until twenty-years later.

Although when viewed from the gallery the sarcophagus appears to be made of cherry, you can see from the ground level that it is a finely polished red granite (some say from Russia, others from Finland) on a pedestal of green granite (which was quarried in the Vosges Mountains of France.) The sarcophagus is reputed to contain several nested layers to protect the remains of France’s most well-known soldier. The inlays in the floor surrounding the sarcophagus  memorialize Napoleon’s victories in battles across Europe.

Saint Louis des Invalides is open Mondays through Saturdays  from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. year around and slightly later in summer and on Sundays.

Behind the church, the former home for invalid soldiers (the Hotel des Invalides), built by Louis XIV, is now a military museum. See the museum’s official web site  for more detail (the website is in French, so use Google Translator if you do not read French).

Closed the  first Monday of the month, except in July, August and September, the facility is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. most of the year and an hour later from April to the end of September.