Newest Review: ... on a plinth. The first thing which struck me about the tomb was in order to view it, you first have to approach a large circular platform... more
Napoleon wins in the end
Napoleon's Tomb (Paris, France)
Member Name: TheWiseMan
Napoleon's Tomb (Paris, France)
Advantages: Not crowded with tourists
Disadvantages: Not enough English language books in the shop
I can almost hear Napoleon howling with laughter in his tomb in the old Invalides hospital. He got exactly what he wanted with this. As he dictated his own history on St Helena, he was eyeing such a prize as this embarrassing shrine. Don't get me wrong, I love it - Napoleon was a great man; an administrator, a general, a writer, a self publicist and ultimately a great actor. This over the top monstrosity below a golden dome is testimony to his abilities as a fable maker. For you see, Napoleon was just a man - an interesting one - but a mere man none the less. To look at his tomb and the homo-erotic friezes which surround it, you could be forgiven for thinking some kind of messiah was within that curious block of weirdness. The man isn't even buried - he is literally inside a big cupboard on a plinth. The first thing which struck me about the tomb was in order to view it, you first have to approach a large circular platform and look down, as if staring into a pit. He has been positioned in a literal underworld. It is possible to go down to a level below and see the tomb from a lower angle. From there the bizarre friezes can be seen close-up. These show a muscled and topless Napoleon with a crown upon his head, looking like a prototype for the Village People. As much as I admire Napoleon, I was utterly disgusted with this image of the man with his arms outstretched like a messiah.
There are some original artefacts on display including the man's old hat and grey greatcoat. There are also some other tombs of people not worth a mention (two of Napoleon's useless and perennially ungrateful brothers - one of whom - Jerome - is only fit to be buried in a pauper's grave). Hidden away behind a display is the tomb of Turenne. Napoleon would be outraged Turenne has been obscured in this manner. Napoleon's pal Duroc is hidden away in the vaults, as is Bertrand who went to St Helena with his master. A bad taste is left in the mouth when you consider Napoleon's heir (his third son Napoleon II - the first 2 being out with marriage) was interned within the Invalides by Adolf Hitler. Is it any wonder ill informed people like to draw comparisons between Bonaparte and Hitler. Still, Napoleon dearly loved that boy and it was touching to think they had been re-united in some capacity.
Within the complex is the Army Museum which has an interesting World War II collection and an impressive selection of suits of armour. There is a also a museum dedicated to military models, which was reinvigorated by the first Emperor during his reign. I appreciate architecture and found this additional display very interesting - and it wasn't as busy as the other nooks and crannies. The souvenir shop is a class above the tat you normally see, but off course caters primarily to French speakers in terms of the books. At the front of the building there are some big cannon, which always good for a photo opportunity. They seem to point at the citizens of Paris, as if in anticipation of a riot or another revolution. I enjoyed staring menacingly at the tourist buses whilst having one hand on a cannon. Metro access is convenient and there are several nice cafes close by also.
As a final note, the joke is actually on Napoleon because he may have got the tomb in the end (as opposed to the unmarked grave in the South Atlantic) but he hated the people - yet they scour about pointing and pontificating. Anyone can gawk and Napoleon can do nothing about it.
Summary: Over the top resting place for an over the top man
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