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ROUTE NAPOLEON, FRANCE ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

Route Napoleon stands as an iconic road trip and a popular tourist attraction in the South of France. This 325-kilometer adventure is an immersive experience in natural beauty and historical significance.

rocks framing the scenic Route Napoleon

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WHAT IS ROUTE NAPOLEON?
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Route Napoleon, a 325-kilometer (200-mile) historical journey (N85) in the picturesque South of France, embarks from the coastal town of Golfe-Juan along the French Riviera and winds its way through the stunning landscapes of the Alps Maritimes to reach Grenoble in the north.

 

This iconic route is steeped in history, marking the path Napoleon Bonaparte took in 1815 when he sought to escape exile on the island of Elba, with a mission to overthrow the French monarchy of his time.

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DRIVING ROUTE NAPOLEON
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Napoleon's presence is still tangible along this route, with statues of the French Imperial Eagle scattered here and there, commemorating his dramatic escape. The journey takes travelers through a diverse tapestry of terrains, from fragrant lavender fields to serene pine forests, rolling hills, and the awe-inspiring rock formations of the Parc Natural Regional du Verdon.

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It is recommended to travel the Route Napoleon in the reverse direction of Napoleon's original South to North route, as it offers spectacular views of the Mediterranean sea as you approach the French Riviera.

 

The road's design, with its sweeping cambered corners, almost feels as if it was crafted specifically for enjoying the performance of a supercar. The entire route promises a smooth and exhilarating driving experience, complementing the region's scenic mountain passes.

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While it took Emperor Napoleon and his entourage a week to traverse this 314-kilometer route in 1815, modern travelers can comfortably complete it in just seven to eight hours. However, to truly savor the experience, we recommend breaking the journey into sections, allowing you to fully appreciate the road and the surrounding beauty.

As you explore Route Napoleon, don't miss the opportunity to venture onto other picturesque roads in the region, including the Gorge de Verdon National Park, famous for its canyon-like scenery. A must-stop is the perfume capital of Europe, Grasse, located in Provence, where you can explore the scented world of perfumery.

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ferrari before route napoleon sign

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HISTORY OF ROUTE NAPOLEON
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The history of Route Napoleon is intertwined with the remarkable life of Napoleon Bonaparte, a brilliant military strategist who rose through the ranks of the French Revolutionary Army in the late 1790s. He ascended to First Consul in 1800 and then crowned himself Emperor of France in 1804.

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Napoleon's empire stretched across Europe, from the River Elbe in the north to the shores of Italy in the south, and from the Pyrenees to the Dalmatian coast. However, his ambition faced a significant setback in 1812 when he invaded Russia and suffered his first major defeats.

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In 1814, Napoleon was exiled for the first time, only to escape a year later from the island of Elba with a small army of loyal soldiers. His aim was to overthrow the newly restored monarchy under King Louis XVIII. On the 1st of March 1815, he landed at Golfe Juan, igniting a series of events that would culminate in the famous Route Napoleon.

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To evade royalists and opposition, particularly around Marseille, a remote route was needed. The path through the southern Alps Maritimes was chosen, ultimately giving us the historic Route Napoleon. From Grenoble, Napoleon continued to Lyon and then Paris, where he briefly reclaimed power. However, his rule was short-lived, and 100 days after landing at Golfe Juan, he faced defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. As a consequence, he was exiled to St. Helena, a remote island off the African coast, where he spent the remainder of his life until his death in 1821.

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