The Route Napoleon has a rendezvous with history: in 1815, Napoleon began in Golfe-Juan his “Flight of the Eagle”, the heroic reconquest of France.
On March 1, 1815, Napoleon landed from his ship L’Inconstant in Golfe-Juan to begin his heroic comeback to Paris on what will become the Route Napoleon. A seven day journey by horse on steep and sometimes snowy roads of the Alps to reach Grenoble as hero, at the cost of a crazy and epic expedition that marked the beginning of the Hundred Days.
To celebrate this bicentenary, the events have multiplied in the cities crossed by the Route Napoleon, in Golfe Juan, Cannes, Grasse, Séranon, a total of 42 municipalities. All along the route, the reconstitution of historical scenes have revived the popular fervor aroused by Napoleon 200 years ago.
Landing in Golfe-Juan
Napoleon in exile on Elba, judging Louis XIII unable to govern, decided to regain power. With a handful of followers, he landed on March 1, 1815, on the beach of Golfe-Juan in the early morning with General Cambronne who commands the vanguard and goes ahead to check the path. He was ordered not to fire a shot. Some 150 extras, dressed as Empire grognards, participated in the reconstitution in Golfe-Juan – which takes place every year.
Bivouac in Cannes
Napoleon stopped at Cannes for the night around a bonfire on the beach at the site of the Palais des Festivals. The Bivouac Napoleon reconstitution was held near the Church of Notre Dame, where a bas-relief commemorates the passage of the Emperor.
Grasse, the beginning of a long journey
Leaving Cannes at dawn, the reconstitution procession arrived shortly after 10h30 on the Grasse territory after passing Mougins and Mouans Sartoux.
The cavalry and infantry made their triumphal entry into Grasse on the Honoré Creps Course. There, a large crowd welcome them with cries of “Vive l’Empereur!”. The procession then went up the Jeu de Ballon boulevard to finally stop Place de la Foux. Mayor of Grasse Jérôme Viaud offered them a small bouquet of violets before wishing the Emperor good way to glory.
The regiment then joined the Plateau Roquevignon, at the Bergerie des Trois Cyprès for a new bivouac. On this Plateau, some farmers offered Napoleon a bouquet of violets, which earned him the nickname of Père La Violette.
Hardly the time to nibble a chicken leg, and the scouts called for departure. The troop left trotting towards Saint-Vallier and Escragnolles through the paths of GR51 along the Route Napoleon.
Napoleon and his troops were to arrive early in the evening in Séranon.
A triumphant but brief return
Napoleon made his triumphant return to Paris on March 20, joined along the way by other nostalgic soldiers. He returned to power for “Hundred Days” until his final defeat at Waterloo. “Once again, France gave herself as a beautiful girl to a lancer!” Balzac wrote…
Birth of Route Napoleon
The Abbey Jules Chaperon, pastor La Martre is the author of this name. In 1913, he asked that the RN 85, formerly known as Route Impériale, be named “Route Napoleon”, probably in anticipation of the centenary of the return from Elba.
During the summer of 1932 the road was inaugurated by G. Gourdeau, Under-secretary of State for public works and tourism.
The Action Nationale des Élus pour la Route Napoléon (Elected officials National Action for the Route Napoleon) was created on February 4, 1969 at the initiative of prefect Jacques Biget, mayor of St Vallier de Thiey and Mr. Bellon, Mayor of St Auban. The association includes 42 municipalities on the RN 85. The ANERN was devoted to improving the road network, the organization of signaling and develop communication.
Currently, many relay along the route show the logo of The Eagle at the entrance to each municipality.
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