“Give to the emperor, what belongs to the emperor!” This is the ambition of Dimitri Casali, a historian well known for his many books such as the Dictionary of Napoleon. In the privacy of a kingdom and especially for his rock opera to the glory of the Emperor. This last will soon be on stage, in the premises of the study Osenat in Fontainebleau, france, for us to relive in music the napoleonic epic, on the occasion of the commemoration of December 2, 2018, the anniversary of the coronation and the victory of Austerlitz.

In the meantime, this lover of the Empire who battle to re-light the parts that are unjustly forgotten in this period of the history of France has just written a tribute book to both Napoleon (s). The first, Napoleon the 1st, who wanted to make paris a new Rome, and “to be buried on the banks of the Seine near the French people he so loved”. We can see it with his bicorne in the Tuileries or the Louvre.

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The second, Napoleon III, had only one passion: urban planning with ambition, resolved to clean up, aerate, and especially to beautify the capital. Our two emperors were great builders who, wanting to immortalize their reign, have profoundly changed the map of the city of light.

“Paris is at the top of all the other cities of France. I wanted this capital écrasât by its splendour all the rest of the universe”

Napoleon 1

“I did everything I could and wanted to do everything for Paris had declared Napoleon 1st. Paris is at the top of all the other cities of France. I wanted this capital écrasât by its splendour all the rest of the universe.” When the visitor is at the foot of the obelisk of the place de la Concorde, what does he see? The Arc of the Star, the façade of the national Assembly, the arc du Carrousel, la Madeleine… All are constructs of napoleon.

perhaps We have forgotten that Napoleon has commissioned Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart to build on the location of the convent of the Capuchins, the Paris stock Exchange, bearing the name of its architect. Which will not, therefore, the building completed before his death, in 1813 . But also the pere Lachaise cemetery in 1803, where 1,200 personalities of the First Empire are based. Napoleon is also the origin of the streets of Peace, Castiglione, and Ulm, the north wing of the Louvre and the completion of its Court square and the Vendôme column, the pont des Arts, of Jena, and of Austerlitz, fifteen fountains including that of the Châtelet, of the consolidation and the decoration of the Pantheon.

Head of State visionary Telemachus

For his part, Napoleon III, supported by the prefect Haussmann since coming to power, sees big things for its capital enlarged from 12 to 20 arrondissements. The head of State visionary wants to revolutionize the urban landscape by creating a new animation centre to the confines of the grands boulevards, to make a kind of node of exchange between the different stations.

The work, it does also have another use: to improve the lives of the population and reduce the risk of revolt. He decides to build a grand opera with a place grand and declare the project of public utility by imperial decree of 29 September 1960.

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Opera is the masterpiece of his reign during the Second Empire. The day of the official presentation of the plans to the architects, the empress Eugénie, in favour of Viollet-le-Duc, apostrophe Garnier with this question: “so What is this style? This is not Greek, nor Louis XV, nor Louis XVI.” And the latter answered: “It is the Napoleon III and you are complaining!” The emperor takes in hand the architect and whispers: “Don’t worry , she doesn’t know anything…” The anecdote is not of a nature to make us, finally, sympathetic the ruler populist snubbed by the monarchs of european and placed under the ban of the story by Victor Hugo, which had a treaty of “Napoleon the little”…

Well illustrated by 400 photographs and two dozen maps, the guide of the two Napoleon(s) is as much to read as to see. You must choose to see Paris according to his emperor. The course with Napoleon 1 begins with the Invalid and his famous tomb installed in the crypt of the work was directed by the architect Visconti. The latter has also completed work on the Louvre under Napoleon III.

The architect Louis Visconti presents to Napoleon III and the empress Eugénie in his project of completing the Louvre. Rue des Archives/Rue des Archives/Tallandier

You can then criss-cross the city on the rue de Rivoli, through the Tuileries garden and the decks are imperial to the Pantheon. The one with Napoleon III is just as interesting through the major breakthroughs of Paris, the department stores , the boulevards of the Marshals, not to mention the banks, including the famous bank of France that the idea came to Napoleon 1st. After the disaster of the assignats during the Revolution, its purpose was to support its new currency, the franc germinal, that the First Consul to adopt the law of 7 April 1803. This chapter is a mine of information on the hegemony of the brothers Péreire in the mid-1860s and the revenge of Rothschild….

If you decide to make this journey by underground on the traces of Zazie told by Raymond Queneau in 1959, you will make 54 stops in the stations napoleonic. Of Duroc, Caulincourt through Drouot, all have their secrets. Without forgetting Cambronne, the hero of Waterloo, which fell on the night of 18 June, launched a “Meeeerde” resounding in the English army ordered his grenadiers to go.

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Paris Napoleon(s) , Dimitri Casali (Preface by Jean Tulard), editions Telemaque, 19.90 euros.