Taking a Tour in the Footsteps of Napoleon in The South of France

We take a tour through a legendary road that follows the emperor’s last impressive journey from the Côte d’Azur to the Alps. The landscape remains off the beaten track to date.  Napoleon returned from the Elba island and set up camp for the night on March 1-2 1815. He then rushed to Paris by the dangerous Alpine road. It took Napoleon and his men seven days to cover the distance.

Napoleon’s Journey

If you want to take a shorter route then you should try going through the Sainte- Marguerite. Elb is a bit far.

The Sainte- Marguerite was once a fortress as well as a prison however today, it is largely grown over the pines.  You can take a tour in the cell that housed an earlier figure from the French history, the man in the iron mask.  You can then get a view from the battlements.  Cannes is to the left, across a wide bay dotted with sailing boats.

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To your right, you shall see the Glfe- Juan where Napoleon walked ashore with a little over a thousand men on March 1 1815.  This was after he evaded the British fleet.  Napoleon had been exiled for less than a year after he decided to return to France, he was in Elba. He returned to France to force out the restored monarchy under Louis XVII.  He had to avoid the quickest route which was the valley of Rhone, this is because it was dotted with garrison tows loyal to the king.  He then planned to take much rougher roads through the mountains.  He did that in order to gain impetus so that he could march on to the capital.


Cannes’ Plage de la Croisette

It was a small fishing village. There is an old campsite to the side that has since been overtaken by hotels and apartment buildings. The apartment buildings and hotels all compete for the sea view as well as beach site.

Also, you could follow the villa-covered coast around to Glfe-Juan which is a more low key side of the Riviera. That side barely existed more than two centuries ago. Only fishermen wanted to live close to the sea but that has since changed.

There is a sign where there is the official start of the route of Napoleon.


In the market square of Vallauris , there is a rare statue by Picasso . The statue,  Man With a Sheep stands in an open space. The town is an old pottery making town which brought inspiration to the exiled Spanish artist who-se talent was mostly ceramics. Picasso was 91 when he died in 1973.

There is also a more closer way to examine the Napoleonic Route than the signposted route does. This is four miles from Barrême where the army spent their third night on the French soil.  There is the N85 and the D20, you can take the D20 up to the Col du Corobin.

Author: louisianamuseums