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About Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was the emperor of France (Napoleon I) from 1804 to 1815. He had a great impact on the world, but more importantly on France and in Paris. Napoleon was born in 1769 in Corsica and passed away in 1821 on the island of Saint-Helena.
In this post, we want to walk through the most notable places related to Napoleon in Paris, where Napoleon left his mark in the city. Let’s enjoy historic Paris through this prolific character.
Suggested Paris Napoleon Tours (Guided Tours)
If you want to extend your knowledge in Napoleon, Paris has many Napoleon tours to offer. We recommend booking an in-depth Napoleon tour with a professional guide – usually an expert in History and Napoleon-passionate – to get the most out of Napoleon in Paris.
The Napoleon tours below are quite different, from animated Napoleon experiences (perfect to surprise the Napoleon-passionate of your life) to museum visits or city walks.
|NAPOLEON PARIS TOUR||INVALIDES + TOMB OF NAPOLEON||OTHER SITES||TRANSPORTATION||DURATION||PRICE|
|Napoleon Experience||NO, you are in the heart of the animation.||NO, but you will face challenges!||NO||1 hour||View|
|Napoleon and French Military History||YES||NO||NO||2.5 hours||View|
|Experience Napoleon’s Paris||NO||YES||NO||3 hours||View|
Top Napoleon Sites in Paris
Below, the list of the top Napoleon Sites in Paris in no particular order and the stories behind. Learn where did Napoleon live in Paris, where he studied or where is Napoleon’s tomb plus some anecdotes of his personal life.
Historically, École Militaire was an academic college for cadet officers from poor noble families. It was founded by King Louis XV after the War of the Austrian Succession.
Napoleon Bonaparte entered the École Militaire in 1784 when he was 15 years old, and he graduated from this school in only one year instead of two.
The École Militaire is located southeast of Champ de Mars and it is open to visitors only during special occasions like the European Heritage Days (usually on the 3rd week in September).
Café Le Procope
This café – restaurant located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, which dates from 1686, was a common meeting place for Napoleon and some intellectuals of his time like Voltaire. Bonaparte once left his hat at the restaurant, which you can still see in the window without having to enter the building.
Americans visiting Paris will be interested to know that Benjamin Franklin wrote a good part of the American Constitution at Le Procope.
Les Invalides – Musée de l’Armée
The Musée de l’Armée in Paris, located inside Les Invalides, houses a fantastic collection of objects that belonged to Napoleon, as well as the uniforms and weapons of his soldiers. Make sure to see the statue of the emperor, presiding over the main courtyard.
Les Invalides – Napoleon’s Tomb in Paris
Wondering where is Napoleon buried? Les Invalides also has a part that is a church, the Church of Saint-Louis des Invalides. This is the burial site of Napoleon Bonaparte, where you can find the tomb of Napoleon.
Napoleon lays in a seven-layer coffin placed under the dome of the church. The remains of Napoleon were brought here from St-Helen in 1840, 19 years after his death.
Les Invalides hosts a mass at the tomb of Napoleon every year on May 5th to commemorate his death. The people behind the tomb, on the picture below, are Napoleon’s successors during the mass.
NAPOLEON’S ORIGINAL TOMB. The original tombstone which was on Napoleon’s grave on the island of St. Helen can be found also at Les Invalides. This tombstone was repatriated from the island in 1840, at the same time as the body, by the ship La Belle Poule.
The tombstone is located outside the Church, hidden by bushes in the garden. The garden cannot be visited by the public but you can see the tombstone from the windows, more precisely from the Nîmes corridor or from the staircase leading to the Army Museum (GPS 48.855669; 2.312328).
Arc de Triomphe
Napoleon commissioned the famous triumphal arc in 1806 to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz and to memorialize the heroes of the war. The Arc de Triomphe is located in Paris 8 and you can climb up to the top and enjoy the view!
3 Rue d’Autin – Joséphine and Napoleon Get Married
In this building, the former Mairie of the 2nd Arrondissement, Napoleon and Joséphine got married. Their banns of marriage were published on 7 February 1796, and the wedding was set for 9 March 1796 at 3 rue d’ Autin.
The wedding was to occur at 8 pm. Josephine arrived on time, dressed in a simple but fashionable muslin dress and wrapped in a warm coat but Napoleon was nowhere in sight. After a while, the public officer who was supposed to marry the couple got tired of waiting and he went home.
Napoleon did not arrive at his wedding until 10 pm as he lost all track of time with his maps and it was the acting registrar who married the couple. The marriage took less than 30 minutes to complete.
The wedding certificate purposely contained all sorts of false information. Joséphine was 6 years older than Napoleon. To avoid her any humiliation she might feel, Joséphine’s birth date was changed from 23 June 1763 to 23 June 1767, which made her four years younger. As an act of gallantry, Napoleon also changed his birth date to make him 18 months older.
6 Rue Chantereine – The Wedding Night
For the wedding night, Napoleon went to Joséphine’s house that she was leasing at 6 rue Chantereine, located in a fashionable part of Paris called the Chaussee D’Antin. But just like the wedding ceremony, the wedding night did not go exactly as expected and Napoleon found himself using his defensive skills rather than his lover skills.
Joséphine owned a pug named Fortuné. Apparently, Fortuné was not inclined to share the bed (and Joséphine) with Napoleon, even on his wedding night! So when Napoleon attempted to get into bed, Fortuné bit him on the shin.
Napoleon’s war against Fortuné did not last long because two days later Napoleon had to leave Paris to join his army in Italy.
Château de Malmaison
Château de Malmaison was one of the Napoleon residences in the countryside, not far from Paris. The château was bought by Joséphine in 1799 when he was First Consul.
The castle was with the Tuileries the heart of the French government during the Consulate and Napoleon stayed there regularly until 1804 when Napoleon became Emperor of France. Then, the couple moved to Château of Saint-Cloud, more worthy of Napoleon’s new rank.
Napoleon and Joséphine however, frequently visited Malmaison until their divorce in 1809. After the divorce, Joséphine kept Malmaison where she died.
Château de Malmaison is a beautiful short trip from Paris. It located 16 km east of Paris and it is very easy to reach by public transportation.
Canal Saint-Martin – Bring them Water!
Canal Saint-Martin is today a beautiful area for a stroll or a romantic cruise in Paris. The construction of the canal was ordered by Napoleon I in 1802 when he was First Consul. It is said that Napoleon asked Gaspard de Chabrol, prefect of the city of Paris: “what can I do for the Parisians?”. And Chabrol answered: “bring them water!”.
Until that moment, Parisians only had access to a small supply of drinking water from the Bièvre River and Seine River, which was often very polluted.
Canal Saint-Martin’s construction took place until 1825, funded by a new tax on wine. It was fed by the river Ourcq, 100 km northeast of Paris.
This new source of freshwater and its fountains helped to avoid diseases such as dysentery and cholera. The canal was also used to transport different goods on big boats.
The Tuileries – The Imperial Palace
The Tuileries Palace, located on the right bank of the River Seine, was the usual Parisian residence of most French kings, from King Henri IV to Napoleon III, until it was burned by the Paris Commune in 1871. It was connected to the Louvre Palace through the magnificent Tuileries Gardens.
Napoleon turned the Tuileries into the official residence of the First Consul. Later, when he became emperor, the Tuileries became the Imperial Palace.
The Tuileries Palace was redecorated in Neoclassical Empire style by the best architects of that time. Today, visitors wandering around the Tuileries Gardens can still see a few remains of the palace destroyed by the fire. There are also some remains in the back garden of Musée Carnevalet.
Want to learn the history of the Tuileries whilst having fun? Try the Tuileries Gardens Scavenger Hunt!
Musée du Louvre
The Louvre Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world. Le Louvre not only holds the painting of Mona Lisa, but also the 6×10 meter painting by Jacques-Louis David of Napoleon’s Coronation Ceremony. It is really impressive!
Napoleon’s coronation ceremony took place in Notre-Dame de Paris, on December 2nd, 1804.
If your schedule in Paris is tight but still, you don’t want to miss this fantastic museum, check out how to get the most out of the Louvre in only 2 hours.
At Place Vendôme, in the 1st Arrondissement of Paris, you can see the column of the same name -Colonne Vendôme- which was commissioned by Napoleon in honor of his victory at Austerlitz in 1805. The column is of bronze and many scenes of the battle are sculpted around it.
On the top, there is a Napoleon statue represented as Caesar, overlooking the Tuileries and Paris.
L’Église de la Madeleine was commissioned by Napoleon as a temple dedicated to his military services. However, the construction was finished long after his rule and in the end it was decided to turn the temple into a church.
Just in front of La Madelaine, but on the other side of the River Seine, there is the building of the National Assembly. Napoleon ordered to cover the back of the National Assembly, which is the side facing La Madeleine, by a similar colonnade so today these two buildings look like twin sisters.
Sleep Like Napoleon in Paris
Hotels can be so much more than a simple place to rest your head. For some travelers, the right hotel is part of what makes the travel experience an interesting one.
Napoleon fans will be happy to know that there are a couple of Napoleon-themed hotels in Paris that certainly know how to give their guests a memorable stay in a “First Empire” atmosphere.
Located in Paris 8, at a stone’s throw from the Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe, Hotel Napoleon Paris is a romantic and luxury hotel inspired in Emperor Napoleon’s history.
The spacious and beautiful rooms are decorated in an elegant Empire style with some modern touches very Parisian. Couples will love the suites with terrace, with awesome views over the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe or both!. Rare in Paris, the large connecting rooms are ideal for families.
If you are following Napoleon’s footsteps, you cannot go wrong with a hotel dedicated to the “Emperor”. Hotel de l’Empereur is located in Paris 7, not far from the Eiffel Tower, and it features awesome views of Les Invalides and its imposing golden dome.
All the hotel is decorated in an elegant and inviting Empire style, with beautiful fabrics and furniture. The rooms are spacious and with large and well-lit bathrooms. Most of the rooms come with a view of the Invalides Dome.
Located in the historic neighborhood of Le Marais and hidden behind a flamboyant courtyard, Hotel de Joséphine de Bonaparte is the intimate and delightful escape after a long and busy day visiting the city.
The hotel’s design is inspired by Joséphine de Bonaparte and the Directoire style right down to the detailing of all the carpentry. Rooms are individually decorated – each with its character – and they all have interesting fabrics, wallpapers, and unique carpets.
The hotel proposes connecting rooms to create your private apartment.
Napoleon Statues in Paris
There are still some Napoleon statues or sculptures left in Paris:
» The Genius of France in the guise of Napoleon. This sculptural set is located in the Louvre Museum, at Cour Carrée. It decorates the fronton of the north wing.
» Goddess Minerva surrounded by the muses of Victory crowns the bust of Napoleon. This sculptural set is located in the Louvre Museum, it decorates the fronton of Pavillon Marsan.
» Napoleon Triumphant. This statue is found inside the Louvre Museum, at Cour Puget.
» Napoleon as Cesar. This is the statue on the top of the Vendôme Column, at Place Vendôme.
» Napoleon I dominating History and the Arts. This sculptural set is located in the Louvre Museum, it decorates the fronton of Pavillon Sully.
» Renowned crowning the bust of Napoleon. This sculpture is located in Louvre Museum, at Cour Carrée, south wing.
» Napoleon I. Statue located at the Courtyard of Honor of Les Invalides.
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