Visiting Napoleon’s Tomb – this place is huge!
We’ll now head to the nearby Eglise du Dome, home to Le Tombeau de Napoléon. The church, along with the tomb, is part of the Invalides Quarter. This also includes the former military barracks that now house the military museum (we’ll get there soon). The complex was built by Louis XIV for wounded soldiers back in the day.
For €9.50, you can get inside the Eglise du Dome and your ticket will include entrance to the military museum. I didn’t mean to go there as well, but why not?
What can I say about this church… If you read my stories, you know I have a thing for old European churches (I am not even Christian but the architecture… my God!). This church, however, is on a whole other level.
I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking but what is fascinating here is that this place is… huge. You really feel tiny when you step inside.
There are a few famous folks who call this gorgeous place their final resting stop, each with their own massive chamber. However, the real highlight that cannot (and will not) be missed is Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb. Housed in a massive circular open pit right beneath the tomb, Napoleon’s sarcophagus is on display for eternity. I mean, this thing surely weighs a good few tons. I guess he deserves it, despite finishing his life in exile…
Wow, after visiting such a church, it will be hard to visit others but to take a quick pulse check regarding that, there’s an adjacent church that you can visit for free – the Eglise des Soldat. If I hadn’t visited the Eglise du Dome just a few seconds ago, this place would have been super impressive. If you like old European churches, your standards will certainly go up once you visit Paris.
A small anecdote if you’re wondering why there are 2 churches joined together? Well, the church didn’t really need a good reason to spend so much cash on buildings back in the day, right? But seriously, this church was built for the ‘common folks’ while the other one we just visited, for the nobles. God forbid those two groups could come in contact!
Visiting the Army Museum in Paris
Since our ticket includes entrance to the Army Museum, why not pay a visit? I must say that I hate going to museums on a sunny day. I’ve spent the past 4+ years in Dublin and I learned that sunshine is a precious commodity, more so on a weekend. However, since I like history anyway (and I’m a guy), I really had an interesting time in the Army Museum and might even come back. The first floor is devoted to the old days and there’s some pretty cool stuff on display here. How could these guys even move around with all that metal on them?
The top floor is dedicated to the World Wars and there are loads of artifacts on display. On the one hand, it’s really cool to see and learn about these kinds of things but on the other hand, how cruel can humans be?
As you step out of the barracks the view is breathtaking. This is Paris in its grandest state. Look across the Esplanade des Invalides towards the Pont Alexandre III and back towards the barracks. It’s very similar to the huge open space between the Eiffel Tower and Ecole Militaire. You can see that this part of Paris was well planned to showcase its beauty and power. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Paris is like one huge museum.
Neighborhood market at Rue Cler
We’ll come back to this area soon but if you haven’t done so earlier, cut back across towards Rue Cler. If you wonder where some Parisians hang out on a sunny weekend, you’ll find your answer here. The street itself is a pedestrian market street, lined with fresh fruits & vegetable stalls, fromageries (cheese shops), boucherie (butcher shop) and more. Of course, let’s not forget the cafes and bistros that spill over to the street along Rue Cler and its intersecting side streets.
Around Rue Clear, especially on Rue Saint-Dominique, you’ll find a weekend antiques market that super cool to examine. Parisians love antiques and I learned that when visiting the Marche aux Puce (the Paris Flea Market) of all places.
Art Nouveau & classic Eiffel Tower photos
If you appreciate architecture and also want a classic Paris photo, head over to 29 Avenue Rapp and its neighboring tiny little square. You’ll find here beautiful examples of Art Nouveau buildings, constructed at a time when architects put a great deal of attention to detail. The Eiffel Tower is right behind you, not bad ah?
Now we’ll head towards the end of our trip along Rue Saint-Dominique, which becomes very vibrant as it crosses Rue Cler and beyond. You’ll find here a great deal of cute little boulangeries (bakeries), boutiques, classic Eiffel Tower views and one special little patisserie (pastry shop) called Gâteaux Thoumieux. After walking so much, treat yourself to a sweet work of art in one of the best pastry shops in all of Paris.
Crossing the prettiest bridge in Paris
We’ve gone around in quite a few big circles and now back in the Esplanade des Invalides. The reason for this is that we need to get back home on the other side of the river (well, at least I need to get home). There’s no prettier bridge in all of Paris to take us to the other side of the Seine than the Pont Alexandre III. It was built in 1900 for the Universal Expo and makes this already beautiful part of Paris, even prettier. Across the bridge are the Grand & Petit Palais but that’s for another day.
Just a FYI
Since we’re in the 7th district, it’s worth mentioning the resident ‘king’ of museums of this area – the Musee d’Orsay. After the Louvre, this is probably the best (and most visited) museum in Paris. Its specialty is the Impressionist works of art including those by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, and others but the building itself, an old railway station, is magnificent. If you do make it here, leave yourself a good few hours to fully enjoy – but for more details (and lots of photos) about visiting the Musee d’Orsay, have a look at this post.
I walked a lot, went around in a few circles, finally used my sunglasses and had an amazing time. It was a day that started in the underground sewers of Paris and ended with crossing the most beautiful bridge in town. Exploring the 7th arrondissement of Paris certainly ranks high on my list of top things to do in Paris. The combination of enormous and beautiful landmarks, along with the local vibe in certain parts and rare tranquility in others – are what did it for me. What a day!