Napoleon is the most illustrious Frenchman as testifies the number of tourists who visit his tomb in Les Invalides in Paris.
Napoleon was born in 1769 in Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of continental France (France map). Napoleon became French Emperor on December 2nd 1804 in a grandiose ceremony in Notre Dame. By 1810, he had conquered most of continental Europe and married the daughter of the Emperor of Austria.
These impressive achievements were made possible by the new opportunities opened by the 1789 French revolution and by Napoleon's incredible military skills and charism.
Napoleon was ultimately defeated in 1815 by English General Wellington (picture) at Waterloo, Belgium.
On May 5th 1821, Napoleon died in Saint Helena, an island in the Atlantic Ocean. Victorious England had exiled him there, very far away from France.
Napoleon stayed so popular that Louis-Philippe (picture), the King of France, returned his ashes in 1840. His ashes mean his remains. Napoleon was not cremated. His tomb stands now under the dome of Les Invalides in Paris.
Les Invalides are open everyday except January 1st, May 1st and December 25th from 10am to 5pm, 6pm from April to September. Telephone 33 (0)8 10 11 33 99. Detailed information on Les Invalides.
You can discover Les Invalides on a guided coach tour.
Paris metro: Varenne station on line 13.
After Napoleon's defeat, the Bourbon monarchy had been restored in France. In 1830 the Bourbon king Charles X was overtrown by the people. The duke of Orleans, Louis Philippe, was proclaimed King of the French.
After ruling for a few years, he started negotiations with Great-Britain to get back Napoleon's body to France, as he had remained immensely popular.
In October 1840, the ship La Belle-Poule sailed to St. Helena and brought the emperor's coffin back to France. The coffin came to rest under the Dome of the Invalides.
The famous architect Ludovico Visconti was selected to design the tomb. He designed a circular crypt, without a ceiling, so that it is possible to look in from ground-level.It would take more than twenty years before Napoleon's tomb was finished (1861). By that time, Napoleon's nephew, Napoleon III was emperor of France.
Napoleon spent most of his life on battlefields or in Paris, the capital of France. His memory can best be felt today in Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides and the castles of Fontainebleau, Compiegne, La Malmaison. Web site.
La Malmaison was bought by Josephine (picture), Napoleon's first wife, in 1799. It became the nest of their romance and a center of political life until their 1809 divorce.