Super Alpine

Route Napoléon

The Emperor's legendary march from the Côte d'Azur, through the Southern Alps back to the throne of France

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Napoléon's journey is a series of roads that in 1932 officially became Route Napoléon, the RN 85. Previously called the Winter Alps Route, the 314-kilometre tourist route is marked along the way with commemorative plaques and monuments and is open all year. While today the route is on modern roads and takes various diversions from the original, it still passes through the beautiful landscapes of the Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes and Isère departments.

Beginning at Golfe-Juan the road takes us to Antibes before heading inland to Grasse, and through the Southern Alps via Digne to Grenoble. Col Bayard is the highest pass at 1246 metres.

The 314 kilometres is around a 7-hour drive although splitting it over two days is ideal as there are many notable viewpoints. The route is marked in places by the French Imperial Eagle, carried at the head of Napoléon's army.

Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader born on the 15th of August 1769. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution eventually becoming emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815. As emperor, he dominated global affairs and led France in the Napoléonic Wars against countries and coalitions.

He was victorious in the majority of these wars, building a large empire that ruled over continental Europe before its collapse in 1815. Napoléon was one of the greatest commanders in history and his campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. He died on the 5th of May 1821 whilst exiled to the island of Saint Helena off the coast of Africa. In 1840 his body was returned to Paris, where it was interred in the Hotel des Invalides.


Route Napoléon map