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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