Paris is full of things that are, or were once, the biggest, most expensive, or most impressive in the world for their class. Unfortunately for Napoleon the Pharaohs really made it nearly impossible to claim the title of the most impressive tomb, but that didn’t stop him from trying. The result is one of the most ostentatious resting places for one of the smallest men on the planet. But even as you shake your head at it and wonder at the ego that gave birth to this kind of huge display of wealth and power after death you realize that here you are visiting it, so it pretty much worked, didn’t it?
How to Get There:
Getting there is simple, Napoleon’s tomb is part of the Museum of the Army located at Hotel Invalides, so you just have to get off at the Invalids metro stop and look for the great golden domed church. That would be Napoleon’s tomb. Walk there, be prepared for a quick security check to enter the grounds. When we were there this check was run by soldiers, I don’t know if this was due to the state of emergency still in effect while we were there or because it is part of the Museum of the Army. So your milage may vary.
What You Will See:
The main attraction of the site is the gigantic casket that rests in the center of the building. This is where the mortal remains of the great general rest. You enter on the main level where you can view the casket from above from the central balcony. This balcony forms a complete circle allowing you to view the casket from all angles.
Alcoves surround the balcony wherein other important people are entombed. Not having a ton of knowledge of French history and not reading the language these did not particularly strike me, but they were pretty cool looking.
There are stairs in the back of the building (opposite where you enter) which will take you down to the level of Napoleon’s casket. This is also the level of his wife’s tomb which can be found by going right after the stairs.
The tomb of Napoleon is a quick stop if you don’t also do the Museum of the Army (which we did not do). It is part of the Museum Pass so if you went ahead and got that it is definitely worth going to see. If not then I wouldn’t say it is a must see in Paris. You can walk around the grounds for free if you want, and the building is pretty cool on its own, and it wasn’t very crowded when we were there.