French history 101
From the Gauls to De Gaulle, a brief primer on French history
French History Tours
Enjoy a 2.5-Hour guided visit to perhaps the most spectacular building on the Paris skyline, the incredible gold-domed Invalides. Covered with 26lbs of real gold, the Invalides is home to the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte and the fascinating museum of the army, tracing the history of the French armies and their allies from the jousts of kings, through invasion and resistance to the Normandy landings of WWII.
Commissioned by King Louis XIV and designed in the 17th century by Jules Hardouin Mansart (the same architect who designed the incredible Hall of Mirrors in Versailles) the Invalides was originally built as a hospital and home for wounded and retired soldiers returning from the kings wars. The king knew that he owed his glories to his troops, so he ordered a most magnificent building for them. The Invalides is also home to the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte and the fascinating museum of the army, tracing the history of the French armies and their allies from the jousts of kings, through invasion and resistance to the Normandy landings of WWII. Nowadays you will still find veterans living there, and the gold-domed Cathedral of St. Louis is the seat of the Bishop of the Armies.
Your expert guide will take you on a historical journey. Hear of the exploits of General Bonaparte and learn how he became Emperor Napoleon, and hear how two British pilots were hidden in this very structure during La Resistance under German occupation in the 1940s. Then visit the breathtaking tomb of the most famous general in European history. After crowning himself Emperor in 1804, Napoleon went on to conquer huge swathes of Europe, until his final defeat at Waterloo. Exiled until his death in 1821, his body was returned to France and placed here in the enormous sarcophagus built specially for him. His son is also buried next to him, his body brought to Paris by Hitler in 1940.
Join your guide on this compelling visit to the Invalides, and journey through war, defeat, resistance, and glory.
"Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else."
— Lawrence Block