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Les Invalides on Paris map

Napoléon's tomb facts. History and visits

Napoléon's tomb facts: Napoléon, one of the greatest military geniuses of all times, is buried since 1840 under the dome of Les Invalides in Paris. Napoléon may remain the most illustrious Frenchman as testify the many tourists who visit his tomb. Napoléon's legacy to the City of Lights includes avenues and monuments he commissioned. Paris monuments.

Napoléon, the French Emperor

Napoléon was born in 1769 in Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of continental France (France map). Napoléon became French Emperor on December 2 1804 in a grandiose ceremony in Notre-Dame. By 1810, he had conquered most of continental Europe and married the daughter of the Emperor of Austria.

These impressive achievements were made possible by the new opportunities opened by the 1789 French revolution and by Napoléon's incredible military skills and charisma.

Napoléon's tomb in Les Invalides
Napoléon's tomb in Les Invalides

Napoléon's tomb facts

Napoléon was ultimately defeated on June 15 1815 by English General Wellington at Waterloo, Belgium.

On May 5 1821, Emperor Napoléon died in Saint Helena, a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean. Victorious England had exiled him there, very far away from France.

Napoléon stayed so popular that Louis-Philippe, the King of France from 1830 to 1848, returned his ashes in 1840. His ashes mean his remains. Napoléon was not cremated. His tomb stands now under the dome of Les Invalides in Paris.

Les Invalides are open everyday except January 1, May 1 and December 25 from 10am to 6pm. Telephone 33 (0)8 10 11 33 99. Detailed information on Les Invalides.

You can discover Les Invalides on a guided coach tour.

Paris metro: Varenne station on line 13.

The dome of Les Invalides
Napoléon's tomb under the dome of Les Invalides

Napoléon's tomb detailed history

After Napoléon's defeat, the Bourbon monarchy had been restored in France. In 1830 the Bourbon king Charles X was overthrown by the people. The duke of Orleans, Louis Philippe, was proclaimed King of the French.

After ruling for a few years, he started negotiations with Great-Britain to get back Napoléon's body to France, as he had remained immensely popular.

In October 1840, the ship La Belle-Poule sailed to St. Helena and brought the emperor's coffin back to France. The coffin came to rest under the Dome of Les Invalides.

The famous architect Ludovico Visconti was selected to design the tomb. He designed a circular crypt, without a ceiling, so that it is possible to look in from ground-level.It would take more than twenty years before Napoléon's tomb was finished (1861). By that time, Napoléon's nephew, Napoléon III was emperor of France.

Napoléon Bonaparte
Napoléon Bonaparte

Apartments and hotels near Napoléon's tomb on the map

Napoléon and Paris

After the Invalides, the Colonne Vendome is the second must-see of any tour of the Paris of Napoléon.

Located in the center of Place Vendome, the famous square concentrating high-high jewelers, it was commissioned by Napoléon to commemorate his victory at Austerlitz, similarly to what the Roman Emperors did in the Antiquity.

The column is made out of stone covered in bronze, with a spiraling bas-relief that represents scenes of battle and of victory. At the top of the column stands a statue of Napoléon dressed as a Roman Emperor. The bronze used for the column was the bronze from the cannons captured from the enemy at Austerlitz. There is a staircase inside the column leading to the top, but it is sadly closed to the public.

Napoléon and Fontainebleau are also closely associated.

Napoléon's statue tops Colonne Vendome
Napoléon's statue tops Colonne Vendome

Napoléon's death

Was Napoléon Bonaparte poisoned?

The debate has raged for 200 years about the cause of Napoléon’s death. Napoléon himself fueled suspicion, writing in his will three weeks before his death at age 51, “I die before my time, murdered by the English oligarchy and its assassin.” Chief among the theories for the exiled emperor’s death is arsenic poisoning—an idea reinforced by the remarkable condition of his body when it was exhumed in 1840 for reburial in Paris. Subsequent 20th-century tests of preserved locks of Napoléon’s hair tested positive for arsenic.

Napoléon on his death bed
Napoléon on his death bed