On-line Guide: La Route Napoléon
Posted May 2018 in Go & Do
Over 200 years ago Napoléon I was beaten at the Battle of Nations, forced to abdicate and exiled to Elba. In 1815 Napoléon solved this problem in characteristic fashion. He slipped away from Portoferraio with 1100 soldiers and landed at Golfe-Juan near Antibes, avoiding the royalists in Provence by taking the "Route des Alpes", now renamed "Route Napoléon".
After advancing through the countryside promising reform to the gathered crowds, Napoléon entered the capital on 20 March after Louis XVIII had fled. This day marked the start of Napoléon’s brief governance now known as the "Hundred Days" until his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in June.
La Route Napoléon from Grasse to Castellane is 200 miles long and is now a stunning and popular routeway attracting people from around the world. There are marked trails and statues of the French Imperial Eagle along the way to help guide you.
You can tackle the Route on foot and also by bicycle, motorcycle or on horseback. The trek is suitable for all the family, although some parts are much more challenging and will appeal to more experienced walkers.
Places of interest on La Route Napoléon
Along the route there are no end of fascinating little stop-offs, towns and villages to explore.
Grasse – synonymous with the perfume industry since the 16th Century the scents and sights of this small town nestling in the hills makes it well worth a visit.
Saint Vallier de Thiey – the first stop from Grasse along the Route Napoleon – steeped in Roman history this is a good location to take a breather and maybe have a picnic?
Escragnolles – this little village has many interesting caves and is rich in natural beauty.
Séranon – an attractive little village. Napoleon spent one night here although the story goes that he didn’t manage to get much sleep as he was too frightened that his life was in danger!
Alpes de Haute-Provence:
Peyroules – one of the most westerly villages of the Verdon Natural Parc, this little spot offers a welcome respite for walkers.
La Garde – named after the rock it is built upon, this little town has served as a look out in the hills since Roman times.
Castellane – a delightful mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture set in the heart of the Geology Reserve of Haute-Provence and the Verdon Natural Parc. On 14 August there is a spectacular torchlight procession leading down from the Chapel. Many visitors set out on their tour of the Gorges du Verdon from here.
Senez – a tiny picture perfect French country village with a lovely 13th Century Church.
Barrême – an attractive market town nestling in the heart of Lavender terrority.
Chaudon-Norante – a little village surrounded by glorious French countryside.
Entrages – a little village with narrow streets built on the hillside from stone – stay a while and enjoy the atmosphere in the church square.
Digne-les-Bains – infused with the scent of Lavender this thermal source has thermal baths for you to enjoy.
Le Chaffaut St Jurson – home to an imposing castle and the gateway to many walks up to the mountains.
Mallemoisson – a peaceful little stopping off point with varied and interesting architecture.
Mirabeau – surrounded by fragrant pine trees, Mirabeau is dominated by a medieval chateau. With a river running through the town, it is the perfect place for a dip to cool off!
Malijai – a little town with an amazing Chateau.
L'Escale – snuggled at the foot of the mountains this village enjoys a varied landscape – agricultural plains and wooded massifs.
Volonne – a little medieval village flanked by two imposing towers.
Salignac – here you can appreciate lovely stone buildings and Gothic architecture.
Entrepierres – a tranquil little town surrounded by nature.
Sisteron – sometimes called the "Gateway to Provence" because it is in a narrow gap between two long mountain ridges.