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"best museum in Paris" Topic

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903 hits since 8 Nov 2018
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redbanner414508 Nov 2018 5:12 p.m. PST

My first trip to Fraqnce is coming up and I expect to have one free day in Paris. What museum is the best for the Napoleonic period?

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2018 5:44 p.m. PST

Les Invalides. Uniforms, models of Vauban fortresses and the Man himself.

Glengarry5 In the TMP Dawghouse08 Nov 2018 5:53 p.m. PST

Les Invalides

Nick Bowler08 Nov 2018 5:59 p.m. PST

Get to the models of the fortresses at Les Invalides. They were fantastic. From memory they are at the top of the museum.

There is a museum of uniforms that is separate from Les Invalides. Finally, on some evenings they have volunteers doing tours.

Sergeant Paper08 Nov 2018 6:56 p.m. PST

As stated above, one day interested in Napoleonics – Les Invalides.

GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2018 7:52 p.m. PST

Make sure you see Napoleons horse. it's in rough shape but cool. It's very small for a horse. Also they close parts of it off to repair and upgrade so check and see what they are working on. My buddy went there just to see the fortress exhibit and the whole floor was closed.

Cyrus the Great08 Nov 2018 8:52 p.m. PST

Les Invalides.

JLA10508 Nov 2018 10:05 p.m. PST

Les Invalides.

advocate09 Nov 2018 12:26 a.m. PST

What they all said. For 'one museum' there is no competition.

Prince of Essling09 Nov 2018 2:48 a.m. PST

Agree Les Invalides is an absolute must, but if you have time it is worth a trundle to Versailles to see the gallery of the great battles with all the large size battle paintings. link also video at YouTube link

londoncalling09 Nov 2018 3:32 a.m. PST

Having never been to Les Invalides is it on a par with say IWM London ? Given that I am only up the road from St Pancras I could get a cheap eurostar to Paris for the day. Is it worth it just for that ?

Trajanus09 Nov 2018 4:37 a.m. PST

Very hard to compare the two. In fact the IWM make over a while back takes them further apart. Not because it was bad but because it makes them even more different.

To do Paris in a day you want an early start to maximise time on site but it's a bucket list museum. Maybe not as great as it thinks but if can do it, do it!

londoncalling09 Nov 2018 5:13 a.m. PST

Thanks Trajanus. I haven't seen the IWM makeover as I have been there so many times over the years. If I go then it would be really be just to see the museum.

von Winterfeldt09 Nov 2018 5:48 a.m. PST


very different – a whee bit like the old BAM at Chelsea – but huge in comparison, yes Les Invalides without any doubt, in case you have some time left – the much underrated museum at Trocadero

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2018 6:34 a.m. PST

Agreed – the Musee de l'armee at Les Invalides is an amazing place and well worth a visit

I have not seen the new IWM so hard to compare but it compared nicely with the pre-reno IWM

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2018 6:48 a.m. PST

Les Invalides and don't miss the gift shop. There is an excellent selection of Napoleonic titles.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2018 8:22 a.m. PST

Napoleon's Tomb is adjacent and a must obviously. Much more impressive than you might imagine.

The gallery of cavalry through the ages is a wonderful intro, on the left as you enter. There is many a cannon and limber/caisson in the courtyard, but the real treat is the Napoleonic Era gallery. Personally I love the Restoration uniforms in their case. Rarely seen and perfectly preserved (not surprising, as only ever saw parade use….and that was short lived. Bring a compact camera and ideally a mini tripod (lighting must be subdued), obviously no flash and it would not work anyway. The Waterloo section has almost nothing other than a very dodgy audio-visual display. The exception is of course the Carabinier's Cuirasse. Quite who really was wearing it, I doubt he did well.

Good point about partial closures for renovations. Once went and found the cavalry gallery closed (two years or more) another time the Waterloo room. The fortress exhibition languished in a closed top floor for decades.

Eurostar, when all is working well, is just marvellous if you are already so close to St P's. One day consider Brussels and see their museum, plus there is the remains of a ridge about ten miles south……

Trajanus09 Nov 2018 10:56 a.m. PST

Another must see – although not in Paris and definitely not do able in a day is the Museo del Ejército in Toledo.

If anyone is ever in that part of Spain, its architectural concept and content is outstanding. Even my wife was impressed and she's seen a few museums, including Les Invalides on our honeymoon!

I've always been romantic!

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2018 1:25 p.m. PST

The Musee de'l'armee at Invalides is fabulous. The Napoleonic section is worth the visit on its own and there is much more if you're interested in other periods. Also a collection of toy soldiers that is worth seeing. You won't be disappointed.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2018 2:44 p.m. PST


You have my respect. First I would love to visit historic Spain…and not the coastal bits that attract the English.

But then I have dragged she who must be obeyed across the fields of Waterloo and thrice through Les Invalides. Trust me, those with XX chromosomes will love the latter. Mine did. She was captivated by the cavalry ammo pouches, the cartouches , from the Restoration cavalry of Maison du Roi. They are apparently little handbags (US "Purses") to die for.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2018 2:53 p.m. PST


You have my respect. First I would love to visit historic Spain…and not the coastal bits that attracts the English.

But then I have dragged she who must be obeyed across the fields of Waterloo and thrice through Les Invalides. Trust me, those with XX chromosomes will love the latter. Mine did. She was captivated by the cavalry ammo pouches, the cartouches , from the Restoration cavalry of Maison du Roi. They are apparently little handbags (US "Purses") to die for.

redbanner414510 Nov 2018 6:45 p.m. PST

Thank you all. I know where I'm going.

John Tyson12 Nov 2018 8:40 a.m. PST

My favorite story of Les Invalides.

My friend, Bernie, and host in Paris, July 2018, went to Les Invalides. I wanted to buy Bernie's ticket as thanks for being such a gracious host, so I went up to the nice ticket lady, gave her my Euros, and not being able to speak French, I tried to be polite and yet make a favorable connection…

Me: "Bon Jour. We are just two old American soldiers who would like to buy two tickets, please."

Ticket Lady: "Monsieur, do you have your soldier's identification?"

Me: (Confused) "Yes." (I showed the kind lady my US Military retired ID card.)

Ticket Lady: (Turning to Bernie) "Monsieur, do you have your soldier's identification?"

Burnie: (Confused also) "Oui." (Bernie showed his US Military retired ID)

The kind ticket lady then handed me back my money and gave me two tickets…no charge.

Bernie and I both thanked the kind ticket lady but the ticket lady stopped us and said,
Ticket Lady: "No monsieurs. We thank you."

Bernie and I (we're both in our 70's) were both blown away by the graciousness of the French toward two old American soldiers!

Thanks for listening to my Les Invalides story.

God bless,
John T.

18CTEXAN12 Nov 2018 9:10 a.m. PST

GREAT STORY John T.!…….and I also would like to thank yawl for your service!
Cheers from Texas!

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2018 10:05 a.m. PST

The story goes that the Parisians are incredibly rude and aggressive towards tourists…and each other possibly.

I have found a smile and an attempt to speak their language, however amateur the latter, usually works wonders.

I am very impressed that they extend this benefit to those who served in armies of other countries, however much allies. Not sure UK would offer that…

It is a great story and I just love her final line.

Royal Marine Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2018 10:33 a.m. PST

This is a great story, well done 'Les Invalides'. I think UK experiences are very mixed. I'm still serving and hence can get into a lot of areas with some form of discount, although never had any 'freebies' offered. I do ask everywhere I go for any military discounts and am often disappointed.

I've just been to Paris on a work trip, daily commuting and work does make any city grumpy. But with a little effort people are friendly and helpful.

We have just completed our annual 'Remembrance Services' on 11th November and walking around in dress uniform is always a good experience – although it always seems a bit tighter than the year before! We still payed full price in the coffee shop afterwards though.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2018 10:53 a.m. PST

Obviously Les Invades has to be your first choice. If you've extra time and enjoy naval don't overlook the Maritime Museum:

Another one well worth visiting is the cemetery of Pere Lachaise;


The cemetery contains the graves of the following marshals:

St. Cyr,

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2018 5:52 a.m. PST

While we're near the subject the IWM in London is pretty dire now and definitely worth missing. Most of the exhibits have gone and much of what's left is uninteresting touchy-feely PC crap. You will find nothing about women harassing non-uniformed men with white feathers in WW1, for example, because it's off-message for 2018.

I haven't been back to the NAM since it reopened so no idea about that one.

Another recco for the Invalides. Excellent place.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2018 7:35 a.m. PST

NAM will likely disappoint you then. Real treasures lost eg the mannequins of a Rifleman, a Scots Grey, that Zulu etc. The layout is much more child friendly and a sizeable proportion of the floor space is now an enormous café (not a bad one but………). It is more for the casual browser than the real enthusiast.

It is more now "Ye Compleat Ryfleman" Experience than a serious museum of artefacts.

Lachaise Cemetery was an inspired suggestion. Call in on Jim while you are there! Buy a map at the entrance, dirt cheap and essential.

Trajanus14 Nov 2018 9:49 a.m. PST

With respect gentlemen, the changes to both IWM and NAM are reflective of a more modern age. I don't mean "touchy-feely PC crap" either.

Both were dismal and stuck in the past. Like the TV programs and Movies we all hammer mercilessly on TMP they don't exist just to amuse the likes of us. They have to appeal to the "casual browser" That's who keep the lights on.

The Rifles Museum in Winchester is another place that has benefited from a Lottery Funding makeover. Turning it from somewhere that looked like it was still set up in the Mid 1950's into a light, attractive exhibition, entirely withing the existing building space.

The upgrade of the RAF Museum is another success in this regard but it has the bonus of new space added.

The Tank Museum is another place that's improved over time.

I will admit that of the two I prefer the NAM makeover the Imp War but then I did before the changes. Maybe I just don't like South of the River! :o)

No idea how old you blokes are but I'm willing to bet you are not fourteen. These changes are to engage with younger generations that have little or no contact with History or matters of War in school, or from their parents generation. Not you as adults, nor the individuals you were when you were fourteen.

The IWM was preserved in aspic and the NAM was like going down a mine. When I visited Museo del Ejército five years ago I was amazed at the difference in approach and appearance can make.

Granted they had a lot more to work with, not being confined within a 19th Century asylum, or a begrudgingly funded lump of 1970s trendy architecture!

Believe me now, by comparison, at least both of the London venues have at the very least given it a bloody good try!

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2018 3:53 a.m. PST

I would agree that it is a good idea to rethink these places over time to maintain footfall. The RAF Museum, for example, has always struck me as collection of sheds of stuff.

The worthy objective of keeping places interesting doesn't mean that anything goes, however. I have no doubt that if, say, the Dachau museum were re-curated to say it was actually a holiday camp for climate change deniers, and if it were made over as a theme park with greasy food and rides, its footfall would go up no end.

The danger with rearranging museums to pander to modern bien pensant sensibilities is that you end up at best with something you'll have keep changing, like the past in Nineteen Eighty-Four. At worst you risk spreading untruths, probably by omission.

For instance, I bet the IWM makeover has a big theme about women in war. It would have to (I went a few years ago and found it so disappointing I can't remember what was there, other than very few tanks). What it probably won't have, a propos of women in war, is anything about their white feather campaign, or about this kind of shameful nonsense


The IWM probably dwells quite a bit on the home front, I would think: plucky workers in the factories, all that guff. What it will certainly fail to mention is things like the unionised steel workers who went on strike over ginger beer in WW1 or the munitions factory unions who likewise held the state to ransom.

We can all come up with alternative curations of museums that would pander to some latter-day prejudice. When it gets as far out of hand as the IWM, which seems to have lost interest in exhibits and prefers lectures, you're not really at a war museum any more. You're at a museum of early 21st century public-sector dogma, where you can discern the political leanings of the management board by what they think you don't need to see.

Not only is this not interesting (you can see it anywhere), it means they are starting to converge on another as identical blobs that are all uniformly about bad white men and heroic women. Whether you go to the IWM, the People's History Museum or the Museum of Paperclips, you'll have the same "experience".

These days I have much more time for museums like the Tank Museum and the Shuttleworth Collection, where the exhibits are kept in operating condition and are fetched out to operate. For me, WW2 is brought to life a lot more by the sound of a Merlin engine overhead than by a lot of pious guff about Rosie the Riveter.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2018 5:30 a.m. PST

I think it is one of he many strengths of this forum that a simple posting about a trip to Paris can develop like this. That is what conversation is about.

My wife thought the NAM was a massive improvement on what I dragged her around years ago. I can totally see her point about appealing to the younger probably less obsessional and enthusiastic. Any TV quiz programme tells you that knowledge of history is almost non existent amongst the under 30s.

Trajanus is right. Museums need income and footfall….to survive. If they have to compromise to bring in the school parties, if the gift and the coffee shops have more floor space than the exhibits (as at NAM), that is the price we must pay.

Never yet been to the Waterloo Museum (I mean the one under the ridge top at Mt St Jean). Not sure I approve of the Hanoverian skeleton on display, but I feel a fourth trip to the field coming on…

Trajanus16 Nov 2018 7:38 a.m. PST

Well yes the the RAF Museum can be seen as a collection of stuff. Although its stuff that propeller heads drool over. That said, the 2018 version is a much improved product over its earlier incarnations.

I'm not going down the anti PC route however vis what is or is not in the IWM or elsewhere. That eventually just ends in posturing between one side who feels there's some re balancing to do, on everything, and the other who view it all as namby-pamby posturing, by a bunch of weak kneed wobble bottoms, who need a dammed good thrashing!

That said, I can only see the change in tone in the NAM, where exhibits on Army Life now have comradeship and glory balanced by sacrifice, PTSD and grown up consequences, that never came out of the multiple static items in those endless glass cases, as a "good thing".

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! "
But it's " Saviour of 'is country " when the guns begin to shoot;

Part of the "problem" is that history and society changes over time, some you agree with and some you don't. What's been different to my mind, in recent decades, is an acceleration of challenges and change in terms of both speed and volume. Giving rise to a feeling of "God! Where will it all end!"

The longer you live, the more change you see, has always held true.

Difference now is you don't have to be old enough to be living in Care Home to have seen more change than you would have imagined possible. That doesn't always mean its wrong, however! :o)

NedZed21 Nov 2018 5:35 a.m. PST

Trajanus hosted my wife and me in London and took us to the NAM and we both enjoyed it. For me, the highlight was the Siborne model. Perhaps he can relate here his interaction with a friendly docent concerning the WWI plastic surgery exhibit.


Prince of Essling21 Nov 2018 6:00 a.m. PST

Don't forget the other Siborne model at the Royal Armoury in Leeds depicting the charge by the Household & Union Brigades – nice download link

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

The importance of footfall can't be denied, but when, in the case of an army museum, the emphasis shifts from the soldier and the institution to the visitor, one has to question why have the museum at all. We certainly aren't short of coffee shops.

At the core of any museum are the artefacts, the physical objects, and any archival material gathered there, to which attaches a twofold mission of preservation and exhibition. In the case of the latter, these can be displayed selectively to demonstrate themes or historical context.

I have the impression that generations who have come through the system since I was at school emerge with very little sense of the timeline of history ( My knowledge of the succession of kings never ceases to cause eyes to swivel in the pub. To me, it's second nature).

So a museum will serve a useful function if it makes up for what schools fail to provide in that regard. While the old NAM did smack of a regimental mess at times, at least it showed the development of the British army and the British soldier over four hundred years, using uniforms, weapons and accoutrements, and contemporary art, as well as the selected realistic mannequins.

Sure, the way all the above material might be presented can be refreshened periodically in terms of space and light and changing taste, but if affording the opportunity to contemplate the past, consider what was different and what was common to human experienc throughout the centuries, if demonstrating processes of evolution and how change takes place- while celebrating all the traditional qualities as well as casting a quizzical eye, if this is seen as too difficult and dismissed as alienating the young person then there seems to be little point in having a museum at all.

Prince of Essling22 Nov 2018 2:39 p.m. PST

@42flanker, totally agree. Afraid the younger generation appear to have a lack of concentration span and many shun books, whereas I would be off to the library several times a week to drawdown as many books as I could. my local library would also order in obscure titles for me – wonder if this still happens?

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