Musée de l’Armée Invalides (Paris)

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http://www.musee-armee.fr/en/english-version.html

This museum is a huge repository of all things military.  The galleries of most interest to children are the World War I and World War II galleries so after gaining entry, go up the staircase just across from the gift shop to go directly to these rooms.  

The museum does a good job of explaining, in English, the story of war in Europe in the 20th century.  Children can see clothes from French colonies and weapons used throughout the wars.  Most children are not as familiar with World War I and the museum has lots of maps and displays to explain this difficult concept.  

Most children will move pretty quickly through the rooms although my boys lingered over the weapons, comparing them to their weapons in Fortnite!

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After the World War I rooms, the galleries for World War II begin.  This is really the heart of the museum’s displays.  Children tend to be more familiar with pictures and battles of World War II so if you have children ages 8 and up, you will spend lots of time in these rooms.  There are amazing artifacts and some actual cars and weapons.  My boys loved the maps and weaponry.  For sensitive eyes and ears, the Holocaust is not covered in much detail.  This is more about the military exploits of the Allies and Axis, not the horrors of the Holocaust.  

Unfortunately there are not many hands on exhibits so kids mostly are just looking and reading.  I would recommend that if your children are younger than 8, don’t plan to spend a lot of time here.

As you leave the World War II galleries, you will pop out right at the amazing museum gift shop.  Check it out and let your child buy his or her own Napoleon hat or sword!

Before leaving the museum, be sure to take your family in Napoleon’s tomb.  

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This is a must see while in Paris and even small kids are awed by its vastness.  The tomb is located in the chapel and its entrance is at the back of the museum, across from the little cafe.  The tomb is an amazing piece of architecture and art with gold or marble on seemingly every surface.  There is not a guided tour so you can go at your own (or your child’s!) pace.  Take the stairs at the back of the chapel to the tomb below.  It is not at all creepy and is an interesting way to begin a discussion about French history with your child.

Helpful hints:

  • Tickets cost: 12 EUR/children are free
  • Admission is free with The Paris Pass although you still have to get a physical ticket at the ticket window
  • Recommended for: museum: ages 8 and up; tomb: any age
  • The museum is huge so even when it seems crowded, it can hold vast numbers of people.
  • Plan your day accordingly.  The museum is much too large to try to see it all so look at the exhibit listings ahead of time and only see what you and your family are most interested in viewing.  
  • The museum entrance nearest to the WWI/WWII section and Napoleon’s tomb is at the back of the museum-on the opposite side of the entrance facing the Seine River. To get to this entrance, take the Metro to the “Ecole Militaire” stop.  The other entrance can be reached by the “Invalides” or “La Tour Maubourg” stops.  
  • Dining options: The museum has a small cafe.  It is also fairly close to Rue Cler, a wonderful pedestrian-only street full of shops and restaurants.  You will feel like you have stepped back in time strolling down this avenue.
  • Nearby attractions include: Musee Rodin, Seine River, and the Eiffel Tower
  • Added bonus: The large lawns of the Museum are perfect for little kids to get some energy out after a long day of touring!

 

Books to Read:

Have you already been to the Musée de l’Armée Invalides?  Are any of the other exhibits interesting for kids?  Share in the comments below!

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