ROUTE NAPOLEON | FRANCE
No. 7 of 18
The famous 325 KM / 200 Miles long holiday route in France starts at the sea-side town of Golfe-Juan at the French Riviera and goes through the Alps Maritimes all the way North to Grenoble. Along the way here and there it is marked by statues of the French Imperial Eagle.
Napoleon used the road in 1815 to escape his exile on the island of Elba to overthrow the French king at the time. Today the scenic route is a tourist attraction that leads trough the wonderful landscapes coming across numerous picturesque villages. Following Napoleon footsteps and experience a little history while enjoying a wonderful fast sweeping road makes the drive a special experience.
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The landscapes along the route are consistently changing during the journey. The traveller experiences lavender fields, pine forests, rolling hills and the impressive rock formations of the Parc Natural Regional du Verdon. We recommend driving the Route Napoleon in the opposite direction of Napoleon's original South to North route. Simply because it will allow you to take in some spectacular views of the Mediterranean sea at the French Riviera towards the end.
The design of the road can be described as sweeping cambered corners; almost like it was only built to fully enjoy the performance of a supercar. From start to end it makes a smooth driving experience and a nice addition to the scenic mountain passes in the region.
The 314 KM route took the emperor and his 1000 men entourage a week and can today be completed in a comfortable seven to eight hours. We highly recommend to split the drive up into different sections to get to enjoy the road more.
Do not miss out on the numerous other scenic roads in the region - especially the Gorge de Verdon National Park with is canyon like scenery. We also recommend to stop at Europe's perfume capital: Grasse in Provence.
Napoleon Bonaparte - a skilled military strategist who once ruled over en empire that stretched across Europe rose quickly trough the military ranks of the French Revolutionary Army during the late 1790's. Then became First consul in 1800 and finally snatched the crown from the pope during his coronation and crowned himself in 1804 to be the emperor of France.
After gaining an empire stretching from the river Elbe in the north, down through Italy in the south, and from the Pyrenees to the Dalmatian coast; France experienced the first defeats in 1812 when Napoleon invaded Russia.
It was 1814 when Napoleon was sent into exile for the first time. A year later he escaped exile on the island of Elba with a small army of loyal soldiers to overthrow the the newly restored monarchy under King Louis XVIII. He landed at Golfe Juan on 1st March 1815.
To avoid royalists and the chances of opposition, especially around Marseille a remote route was needed and a path trough the southern Alps Maritimes was chosen. The route we know today as Route Napoleon.
From Grenoble he subsequently continued to Lyon and then Paris where he reclaimed power - although this was not to last long, and 100 days after landing at Golfe Juan - and loosing the battle of Waterloo, he was send as a British prisoner to St. Helena, a small island off the coast of Africa where he died in 1821.