200th Anniversary of Napoléon’s Landing

Napoléon Bonaparte (Napoléon I) was a charismatic and ambitious leader who was exiled to the Italian island of Elba in 1814 after the Treaty of Fontainebleu.

He escaped Elba and landed at the beach in Golfe Juan on the French Riviera with 1200 men at 3pm on 01 March 1815, announcing before his troops:

L’aigle, aux couleurs nationales, volera de clocher en clocher, jusqu’aux tours de Notre-Dame

(The Eagle, the national colors, will fly from steeple to steeple, up to the towers of Notre Dame)

Monument at Golfe Juan port marking Napoléon's place of landing / Column bust on Ave de la Liberté, Golfe Juan

Monument at Golfe Juan port marking Napoléon’s place of landing / Column bust on Ave de la Liberté, Golfe Juan

It would have been much easier to have landed at the valley of the Rhône Valley where his march to Paris would have been faster, but he was wary of royalists in the Rhône area so chose an inland route from Golfe Juan through the Alps.

After he left Golfe Juan he continued through the Riviera towns of Cannes (he camped at 15 Rue des Belges near Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Voyage church), Le Cannet, Mougins, Mouans Sartoux and Grasse.

Napoléon plaque in Cannes

Napoléon plaque in Cannes

Crossing through Provence to Sisteron he made his way to Laffrey where he was met by royal guards sent by King Louis XVIII to arrest him, but instead they supported him.

From Grenoble, he continued to Paris where he arrived at the Tuileries Palace on 20 March 1815.

He briefly returned to power during his Hundred Days campaign, but after a crushing defeat at the Battle of Waterloo he abdicated the throne and was exiled to the island of St Helena where he died at the age of 51.

200th anniversary / Bicentennial celebrations on the French Riviera in 2015

The French Riviera will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoléon’s arrival in this region with numerous events.

In particular, an unmissable weekend will be held Saturday 28 February and Sunday 01 March in Golfe Juan with military bands, a soldier’s camp, horse displays, fireworks and a historical re-enactment of Napoléon’s landing.

Scenes from previous years of the historical re-enactment of Napoléon's landing at Golfe Juan beach

Scenes from previous years of the historical re-enactment of Napoléon’s landing at Golfe Juan beach

The historical re-enactment is the main draw card to be held on plage du Soleil, a 5-minute walk from Golfe Juan train station. Please note, there is no public toilet and no elevator at this train station so if you are arriving from Antibes/Biot/Cagnes-sur-Mer/Nice/Monaco direction be prepared for some stairs.

Most of the events are free of charge to the public, excluding the cavalry display and historical re-enactment. Tickets can be purchased from the Office du Tourisme at Golfe Juan port.

For the 2015 programme of events for Golfe Juan, click  this link here flyer_debraquement_napoleon_golfe-juan_2015

(Note: If you miss the major 2015 commemorations, the re-enactment of Napoleons landing is an annual event in Golfe Juan).

Grasse will also hold many events including guided walks through the town and displays from Imperial Guard lancers.

For the 2015 programme of events for Grasse and surrounds, click this link here programme_bicentenaire_napoleon_2015_grasse

The Route Napoléon

Today, tourists can drive the Route Napoléon (RN 85 road), a 325km stretch between Golfe Juan and Grenoble that is a scenic route following Napoléon’s great journey.

The route is marked by statues of the French Imperial Eagle along the way, and crosses beautiful countryside in the Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Haute Alpes and Isère departments.

For a bilingual map (French and English) of the Route Napoleon, click this link here RouteNapoleon

Start point of the Route Napoléon (ave de la Gare, Golfe Juan) / French Imperial Eagle along the route

Start point of the Route Napoléon (ave de la Gare, Golfe Juan) / French Imperial Eagle along the route

Other Napoleonic places of interest on the French Riviera


Napoléon moved to the French Riviera with his family in 1794, and was responsible for the defense of the coast. When Robespierre fell, Napoléon was briefly imprisoned in Fort Carré that overlooks Port Vauban.

Napoléon was briefly imprisoned at Fort Carré, Antibes

Napoléon was briefly imprisoned at Fort Carré, Antibes


Musée Masséna (Villa Masséna) on rue de France has the Arnott / Cannes wax death mask of Napoléon.

Number 6 rue Bonaparte was the residence of Napoléon in 1794 where he discussed plans with his generals. A plaque marks the building.

Napoléon stayed here at 6 rue Bonaparte, Nice

Napoléon stayed here at 6 rue Bonaparte, Nice

Number 2 rue Saint-Françoise de Paule (now Palais Hongran de Fiana, a complex of holiday rental apartments beside Ma Nolans Irish pub) is where Napoléon slept briefly after the building was confiscated in the late 18th century. Look for the commemorative plaque on the façade. If you’re interested to rent an apartment for a holiday, visit their website www.palais-hongran.com (I’m in no way a salesperson for them, though I’d say most guests are completely unaware that Napoléon once slept in this building!).

Place Masséna, one of Nice’s main squares, is named in honour of André Masséna who was one of the Marshals of the Empire created by Napoléon.

Pont Napoléon III is easily recognisable as the bridge with the urns and cycle paths crossing the Var River near Nice Airport. It was renovated for the 150th anniversary of Nice’s attachment to France.

Pont Napoléon III, Nice

Pont Napoléon III, Nice

Have you found my blog post on Napoléon informative? please share on Facebook or Twitter! Thank you!

Sources: Wikipedia, www.route-napoleon.com

Images: Wikipedia, freeriders-overblog, comtedenice.com

Panoramic views at Napoleon’s prison in Antibes

The history of Fort Carré

Antibes was founded by the Greeks and settled by the Romans and was known as the town of Antipolis.

In the 14th century, Savoy’s possession of the town was contended by France until it fell to them in 1481, after which Fort Carré was built and the port, today one of the busiest on the Mediterranean coast, was fortified by Vauban.

The Fort is star-shaped, with entry via a small bridge and heavy wooden door.  Inside, are barracks for officers and a chapel, cantine and kitchen quarters.  The remparts are 43 metres high, and allow 360 degree views across to Nice, Antibes and the Cap d’Antibes.

The Fort is surrounded by 4 hectares of forest with typical Mediterranean shrubs and trees. There is also a pleasant walkway that follows the perimeter of the Fort from Antibes port back to the main road (duration approximately 15-20 minutes).

Did you know? During the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte was imprisoned here for 10 days.  I doubt he was entitled to enjoy the sea views, he was more likely to have been made to sit starving while the smells of the Fort kitchen wafted next to his prison cell as was so common for French fortresses in those days.

It is interesting to note that Fort Carré was never conquered.

Fort Carré, Antibes

Fort Carré, Antibes

When can you visit?

Visits to the Fort are in guided groups only that depart every 30 minutes. The guided tour is included in the entry fee, and is in French however there are printed leaflets with tourist information in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Russian.

In July and August: Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am – 6pm

Other months: Open Tuesday to Friday: 12:30pm – 4:00pm and Saturday and most Sundays: 10am to 4:00pm
Last tour begins at 3:30pm.

Closed on public holidays: 1st January, 1st May, 1st November and 25th December.

Double check all opening times on www.antibes-juanlespins.com

How do you get there?

The Fort is located on the edge of Antibes port (Port Vauban), and is just 10 minutes easy stroll from Antibes train station.  If you are driving, free public carparks are located on avenue du 11 novembre across from the athletics fields.  Note: There is a gravel driveway beside the amphitheatre that leads to the Fort entrance and then you must walk 300 metres through the surrounding parkland across rocky ground.

The pathway for entrance to Fort Carré is beside the amphitheatre on the Nice side of the Fort

The pathway for entrance to Fort Carré is beside the amphitheatre on the Nice side of the Fort

What is the entrance fee?

– €3 per adult

– €1,50 for students/persons  65+ years and upwards/teachers (must all provide I.D)

– Free entry for children under 18 years, persons of disability and their accompanying companion, war veterans, journalists, students of art and archaeology.  Unaccompanied children are not allowed to enter the Fort.

There is free entry for everyone on the annual weekends of Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days).

Fort Carré, Antibes

Fort Carré, Antibes

Miscellaneous information

  • The Fort is not particularly accessible for persons with restricted mobility as there are steep stairs of uneven surface inside the Fort, and the grounds around the Fort are very rocky.
  • Baby strollers would also pose some difficulty due to the terrain.
  • There is a free public toilet near the entrance to the Fort.
  • No food facilities are here.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather – take a sunhat and water for hot weather as the remparts at the top of the Fort are very exposed.

I hope you find this blog post helpful if you are planning to visit Antibes or Fort Carré. Bon voyage!



Fundraising charity event on the French Riviera – Purple Pants Promenade

Coping with cancer in everyday life

Six months ago, my partner lost a family member to cancer. She was a vibrant, caring lady who was the cornerstone of a large family and is missed greatly by all.

The type of cancer she had is well-publicised by charities and advertising campaigns, but throughout the world millions of people are living daily with cancers that are not as prominent in the media.

Fund-raising and awareness is a huge component for charities

Locally, a new non-profit charity organisation – Purple Pants Promenade – has been created by two expats, Meg Burley and Bev Hill who are planning to support both a local and a UK-based charity.

Sign up for this charity event: Purple Pants Promenade (image: PPP)

Sign up for this charity event: Purple Pants Promenade (image: PPP)

Wellbeing of Women, is a UK-based charity dedicated to providing research and improving the health of women and babies. www.wellbeingofwomen.org.uk (their website is in English)

Défi de Femmes, based in Antibes and Le Cannet provides psychological support and beauty treatments to those suffering from feminine cancers. They aim to restore women’s confidence and self-image, allowing them to feel and look their best. www.defi-de-femmes.org (their website is in French)

Many Riviera businesses have already shown support for this initiative including:

The fundraising event also has the backing of the Mairie of Antibes and Antibes Athletics Club.

What is Purple Pants Promenade all about?

On Saturday 27 September, from 7pm-10pm they are holding a 3.5km charity walk in Antibes with proceeds going to the two charities.

The circuit will begin at the athletics track at Fort Carré and continue to Port Vauban before looping back to the Fort. You can complete the route once, or as many times as you like. The entire route is on flat ground so suitable for families with children, or wheelchair-bound participants.

The Purple Pants Promenade is open to all – adults (who will receive purple cycle shorts to wear to support the theme), and children (who will receive glow-in-the-dark purple bracelets).

Groups of business colleagues, yacht crew and sports teams are all welcome.

There will be entertainment during the evening at the athletics track, and prizes on the night for ‘most purple’ attire.

How do you register or donate?

There is an entry fee for the Purple Pants Promenade of €25 per adult, and €5 per child under 16 years and/or students; you can also be sponsored per kilometre or circuit completed.

  • For more information, visit their Facebook page here
  • To register for the charity walk or donate to this excellent initiative, the link is here

Further enquiries can be directed to Meg Burley (event organiser) Email: meg@ppp-riviera.org or Lizz Boardman (press/media)Email: lizz@ppp-riviera.org

Please show your support by sharing this on Facebook, or retweet on Twitter. Thank you.

Activities – ANTIBES (Les Nuits Carrées 2012)

Experiencing music in another country is a must-do for me.  Music conveys many emotions and creates memories.   I have heard the passionate beat from Cook Island drummers in Rarotonga, trekked through rice fields to listen to traditional Indonesian folk songs in Bali, camped at a 3-day music festival in a vineyard as the sun comes up in New Zealand and been chilled by a solo Irish harpist playing on a deserted riverbank in the United Kingdom.

Living in France exposes you to a wide range of music and whether your tastes range from huge stadium concerts, to intimate jazz bars, I highly recommend everyone enjoys a concert or musical event whilst living or visiting here.

My pick for this week is ‘Les Nuits Carrées’ held over 2 nights, Friday 29 June and Saturday 30 June – a relatively young festival held at the amphitheatre beside Fort Carré in Antibes.   Les Nuits Carrées is an eco-festival of sorts; you purchase a reusable ‘happy cup’ when you arrive and refill it through the evening to recycle at the end.  No discarded styrofoam cups or aluminium cans littering the ground here.

Les Nuits Carrées 2009 – eco-festival, Antibes

Even the toilets are eco-friendly; instead of those horrible smelly Portaloos with chemicals that are regular features at music festivals the toilets are constructed of chip-board and there are buckets of sawdust – yes, sawdust – to tip into the bowl afterwards.  No smell and much more pleasant.  There is always a wheelchair-accessible toilet with ramp.  My tip:  Take a small torch for later in the evening, the toilets have no lighting.

The festival billing showcases hip-hop, reggae, jazz, electro, funk and the setting is magic at the amphitheatre as the sun sets.  The ground is flat (though can be stony) so the venue, refreshment areas and toilets are wheelchair accessible, though the amphitheatre obviously has graduated steps.

amphitheatre at Les Nuits Carrées 2010

Tickets are a bargain at 10€ per night or just 15€ for both nights.  Visit the festival website for details on where to purchase tickets and the line-up for both nights www.nuitscarrees.com