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The Musée de l'Armée
A Trip Through Military History

Have you ever wanted a close-up look at the weapons, armor, and accouterment of warfare from the Middle Ages to the modern day? Then you can’t miss a guided tour of the Musée de l'Armée on your next trip to Paris.

 

This one-of-a-kind museum experience tells the story of epic battles and history-defining wars with a permanent collection that focuses on French military artifacts from the Middle Ages through World War II.

 

Our specialized tour guides give you the background you need to understand everything on display, taking you on an adventure through the museum that is as entertaining as it is educational. And thanks to the curious items to be found here, this tour is perfect for groups of all ages.

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On this tour, you will:

  • Wander through the halls of Les Invalides, a system of buildings created by decree of King Louis XIV

  • Look at the Sun King’s opulent suit of armor

  • See Japanese weapons and armor gifted to the Kings France 

  • Visit the Cathedral of Saint-Louis-des-Invalides

  • Take in the awe-inspiring Napoleon’s Tomb

  • WWI & WWII wing

  • And much, much more!

Excited to read more?

Below, we’ll dive into the history of the museum itself and take a look at what you can expect on this unforgettable private guided tour of the Musée de l'Armée.

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What is the Musée de l'Armée?

The Musée de l'Armée, or Army Museum, is one of the most prominent institutions in Paris, located in the 7th arrondissement. Its collection is extensive, offering a comprehensive look at the military history of France and beyond. The exhibitions span nearly a millennium, focusing on the conflicts that have shaped the country (and the world) as we know it today.

The Beginning of the Musée de l'Armée

The museum was established in 1905 in the historic Hôtel des Invalides complex. Its architecture is a stunning example of the 17th-century style, complete with its famous golden dome. It was initially created as a residence for veterans — a fitting legacy for what the building would eventually house.

The Musée de l'Armée Collection

On the tour, you can learn about the magnificent art that covers the inside of the complex, as well as the architects who helped make this dream of a king into a reality.

 

The six main spaces of the museum include:

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Artillery Collection

Housed in the main courtyard, this presents artillery representing more than 200 years of military technology.

13th-17th century Armor and Weapons

This space is broken up into multiple rooms, showing off its armaments (it's the third largest arms museum in the world).

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Modern Department

Traversing from the Early Modern Period (the 17th century) to the end of the 19th, this section gives us a look at eminent military leaders, including Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Charles de Gaulle Monument

This interactive exhibition celebrates the history of the man who led the Free French Forces and served as the founding President of the Fifth Republic.

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Cabinets Insolites

These additional cabinets hold special collections, including thousands of figurines, models, and musical instruments.

Along with other smaller museums at Les Invalides, these spaces offer a tangible connection to the past — showcasing both the personal side of warfare as well as the technological advancements that shaped military strategies and tactics.

 

The collection also contains plenty of artifacts from outside of France, made up of official state gifts given to the country throughout the years. This most notably includes a bevy of Japanese weapons and armor.

 

Because of the wide span of the collection, there really is something for everyone. In particular, American visitors will find plenty to resonate with, especially the history of WWII.

 

Undoubtedly, the most famous piece of the collection is dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, a towering figure in French and world history. The Emperor's tomb is a centerpiece of the museum, resting beneath the gilded dome of Les Invalides. The exhibition surrounding Napoleon's tomb explores his life, campaigns, and lasting impact on European history.

 

Alongside its permanent collection, the Musée de l'Armée plays host to changing temporary exhibitions that deepen our understanding of specific themes, individuals, and wars. It’s always worth checking out what will be showing during your trip to Paris.

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A Private Guided Tour of the Musée de l'Armée

With a private guided tour from one of our experts, you’ll make the most out of your visit to the Musée de l'Armée.

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Your Group Gets Its Own Private Guide

Our talented and highly trained guides provide the following:

  • In-depth explanations to awaken your curiosity

  • Entertaining anecdotes and stories from the past

  • Research-based information you can rely on

  • Excellent English skills to help translate what you see

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Learn About the Architecture of Les Invalides

The tour begins with an exploration of the building itself. After all, the Hôtel des Invalides shines as one of the most beautiful examples of monumental architecture in the City of Lights. From its magnificent façade covered in immaculate ornaments to its grand murals inside, this is a marvel of construction.

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See Napoleon’s Tomb

Beyond the galleries, we will go into the Cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides — the sacred space that gives us a moment of peace to contemplate all the warfare we have considered throughout the day.

 

It is here that we will arrive at the Tomb of Napoleon, a grand monument sitting beneath a gilded dome. Circling this spectacle are ten relief panels commemorating the triumphs of this historical figure. Guarding the tomb are twelve statues, each personifying an aspect of the leader’s legacy.

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Your Journey Into French Military History

Emerging from Musée de l'Armée, one has an increased appreciation for the determination and sacrifice of war. It also reminds us of the incredible loss this legacy holds for us, and it can often be a sobering look at this institution in human affairs.

 

Our expert tour guides are ready to accompany your group on an exploration of military history — including an up-close-and-personal look at Napoleon Bonaparte.

 

Contact us to schedule your customized journey through the Musée de l'Armée!

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