Some of the main institutions and landmarks that make Paris what it is today, such as the Arc de Triomphe and l’Assemblée Nationale, bear the unmistakeable stamp of Napoléon Bonaparte’s vision.

“Paris is above all cities in France,” he said. “I wished for this capital to squash all others by its splendour. I have done, and have strived to do, everything for Paris.”

This exhibition explores the Emperor’s conflicted relationship with the capital – one where his affection often wasn’t returned by its citizens – and flair for grand gestures. The storyline runs from his days as the First Consul and clears up a misconception as to his infamous ‘self-coronation’, which wasn’t a megalomaniac indulgence, rather a ‘line in the sand’ between church and state. The Pope anointed him but the crown itself was to be placed by the ‘choice of the people’, through the ruler’s own hand.

Emblematic objects and symbols bring Napoléon’s Paris to life – from his throne and imperial regalia, down to the toothbrush in his silver battlefield nécessaire.

Tip: Give yourself time to take in the unbelievable story of the Place Vendôme column.

Until August 30 at the Musée Carnavalet. 16 rue Francs-Bourgeois, Paris 3rd. Métro: Saint-Paul, Chemin Vert. Open daily 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays. Entry €8. Tel: +33 1 44 59 58 58

From France Today magazine

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