France’s capital, Paris, is revered the world over as a city of romance, culture, art, and fine cuisine. But Paris has so much more to offer. It is also home to some of the best military museums. They showcase France’s rich military past, from ancient battles to its role in the world wars and beyond.
Join us as we look at the 5 best military museums in Paris.
Paris, France is home to countless galleries, museums, and places of interest, many of them with a military theme. But why go to just one museum when you can get a more comprehensive view with a WW2 military history tour?
You’ll see military museums, memorials, plus so much more when you go on one of France’s WW2 tours. Upon arrival in Paris, you’ll be whisked away to see all the historical sites in the area and surrounds, including the Normandy beach landing sites further afield.
There are several tours available that include some pretty exciting sightseeing opportunities in Paris, too. But if you want to see authentic military sites without the bother of planning your accommodation and transportation, a military history tour like the Band of Brothers’ WW2 tours is the solution.
If building military models is your thing, this is one museum you don’t want to miss. It is situated inside the Hôtel des Invalides, which was originally built to accommodate injured soldiers. Today this building accommodates magnificent historical models of military sites.
And the models themselves have a fascinating backstory. The days of Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, heralded the start of this trend – building miniature models of key military fortifications. These allowed military strategists to assemble and virtually reconstruct their plans under the watchful eye of the King.
This allowed more precise military planning and thus the practice was continued under the reign of Louis XV. Today you can view these magnificent models in glass display cases at the Musee des Plans-Reliefs. Learn more about the military forts they depict, through interactive screens or one of the regular exhibits.
The Army Museum at Les Invalides is one of the largest military museums. But if you’d like to visit multiple museums but your schedule doesn’t allow for much traveling, this is the one to go to.
You’ll see exhibits dedicated to the First and Second World Wars. The gritty realism of these wars is highlighted through original film footage, photographs, and even some of the soldiers’ items.
Like the Musee des Plans-Reliefs, the Army Museum is located within Hôtel des Invalides. Don’t let the name fool you. This is not a hotel, but a major complex housing several military-themed museums including an old military hospital and military leaders’ tombs.
One of the most visited is the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, a French politician, military leader, and the first emperor of France, is also located on the premises. Although his reign as emperor was short-lived, he conquered much of Europe during his military career.
This is France’s national museum of the ‘Legion of Honour and Orders of Chivalry’.
Dedicated to Orders of Merit and Orders of Chivalry, it celebrates France’s military honors, medals, and chivalric orders from the time of King Louis XI to the present day. The museum also houses hundreds of portraits and Napoleonic artifacts.
The museum, as it stands today, was created in 1925. Admission is free, although the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It is located within the famous Hôtel de Salm, which has an interesting history of its own.
Originally built for Prince Frederick III of Salm-Kyrburg in 1782, it was later destroyed by fire but fortunately rebuilt and restored. Several replicas and near-replicas of this much-admired hotel have been erected in other parts of the world.
Unlike ancient battles, the World Wars introduced a new type of warfare, the type that is fought in the skies. This was a major turning point in military history, and it still fascinates people to this day. That’s why the National Air and Space Museum of France is a must-see for all fans of aviation and military history.
The reason is that this is not just a museum, but also an authentic historical aviation site. It’s not just about the aircraft, though. The beautiful Art Deco terminal building will also delight architectural history fans.
You’ll see historical artifacts of flight from hot air balloons to fighter jets. Several military aircraft are on display. If your love of the skies goes beyond the aircraft flying through it, check out the planetarium here as well. The museum hosts regular events throughout the year, including children’s activities.