Regency,  Research

Getting ready to visit Napoleon

My family and I are continuing to get ready for our four-week European trip, which will include attending some of the bicentennial events for the Battle of Waterloo. We’ll be spending the two weeks in the middle of the trip in France, and Mr Fraser and I have been trying to teach ourselves a little French using Duolingo. I’m not going to become an expert–for that, I’d need to go back in time and start studying several years ago, possibly at the expense of writing any books or otherwise having a life during that time–but I’m hoping to know enough phrases and words to greet people, make simple purchases in stores and markets, etc. The program has me practicing food and color words a lot, to the point where I found myself in the grocery store last night, staring sadly at an assortment of less-than-ripe strawberries. “J’aime les fraises rouges,” I murmured. (I like the red strawberries.) “But these fraises aren’t very rouges.”

While I’m in Paris, I naturally plan to visit Les Invalides, which houses the Musée de l’Armée (army museum) along with Napoleon’s burial site.

When Napoleon died in 1821, he was buried on Saint Helena. He didn’t receive his French state funeral until 1840. (And if you have time for a long read, the Wikipedia article on that event is fascinating.)

While I’m no great admirer of Napoleon’s, I expect I’ll find visiting his sarcophagus moving nonetheless. The world without him would’ve been an unimaginably different place, after all.

I also hope to visit Malmaison, Josephine’s chateau just outside of Paris.

And on a lighter note, while we’re in London I plan to visit Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington’s London home, where I’ll get to see this:

It will never not amuse me that Napoleon commissioned a giant nude statue of himself as Mars the Peacemaker, nor that the statue in question now guards the Duke of Wellington’s staircase. I don’t suppose they’ll let me take a selfie next to it…

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ki pha
ki pha
7 years ago

Ha! Actually you can take a selfie with Napoleon as Mars, or at least we did when we were there this past September. Napoleon however didn’t like the statute and called for it to be destroyed but I think Wellington bought it to spite him. 😉

Susanna Fraser
7 years ago
Reply to  ki pha

I look forward to my selfie opportunity, then!

7 years ago

Congratulations on your French! Maybe each time someone in the family wants to add an item to the shopping list they should have to do so in French…

I have seen photos of people next to that statue so I suspect you could do a selfie, as long as you didn’t get too close. I agree with you on the multiple ironies it represents!

Susanna Fraser
7 years ago
Reply to  HJ

At this point I think I could walk into a French market, identify most of the basic foodstuffs, and ask how much they cost. It helps that so many of them are cognates with English, Spanish, or both, and that so much of cooking and fine dining language is French.

Elena Greene
7 years ago

Have a good time and I am looking forward to seeing that selfie. 🙂

Susanna Fraser
7 years ago
Reply to  Elena Greene

If it turns out well, maybe I’ll make it my author photo. 😉

7 years ago

i have had the pleasure of visiting both les invalides and Apsley House. The amount of history packed into these places is staggering. Allow plenty of time. I especially loved viewing all of Wellington’s awards and collections. The plate and silver is exquisite. Enjoy!

Susanna Fraser
7 years ago
Reply to  Janice

I’m looking forward to the art in Apsley House, too.

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