Route Napoléon

Over the next few blogs, we are going to be taking a look at various sections of the route.

It’s worth saying that the routes we plan are intended to give you a great driving experience and where ever practical we will avoid motorways and main routes. Over the last 8 rallies we have covered some spectacular roads and the one that has probably been used more than any other is this one, the Route Napoleon.

We’ll be driving some of this on day 3, Friday before heading across East to the Col de Turini. We’ll be taking a closer look at the Col du Turini in a future blog.


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Kieran Griffin doing his best Napoleon impression in 2016


As the name suggests the route we are taking follows some of the route that Napoléon Bonaparte marched with his 1200 men. Napoléon, following his abdication on 1814, had been exiled to Elba Island. In March 1815 he started out on a journey to overthrow Louis the 18th, starting from Elba, he sailed to Cannes and his journey on the “Route Napoléon” began.

To avoid troops in the Rhone Valley in the east, and Marseilles to the west, Napoléon and his men marched north across the Alps towards Grenoble.

The route took them from Cannes, up to Grasse, then on to Seranon. The next day they continued the march, heading 25km up to Castellane. From here they encountered snow and ended up in Barrême where the stopped for the night.

The next day, they left early in the morning and marched to Digne, where they stopped for lunch before following the river to Château de Malijai.

Day 5 he marched to Sisteron when he was surprised to not meet with resistance. As a result, he was able to stop for lunch before continuing to Gap for the night.

On the 6th day, he went up and over the Col Bayard (1248m) to Corps, some 40km north of Gap

Finally, on day 7, following a final 25km march, he arrived in Grenoble but not before the famous encounter with Laffrey at La Mure.

93 days later he was at Waterloo

Today, the Route Napoleon is a 325km part of the N85. The road was opened in 1032 and leads from the French Reviera to the southern Pre-Alps (where we join)

It is marked along the way by statues of the flying eagles (watch out for them)

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The good news is that we won’t need 7 days to cover the route, it should take around 9, including getting across to the Col du Turini and into Monte-Carlo.



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