Our apartment for our Paris sojourn is going to be in the Marais, one of my favorite neighborhoods. And in that neighborhood is the always interesting musée Carnavalet. Until August 8, they are hosting the exhibit Napoléon et Paris. The exhibit aims to show the relationship between the Emperor and the French capital. Paris was also the capital of Napoleon’s vast empire and he lived at the heart of it, in the palais de Tuileries – destroyed during the Commune of 1830. Napoleon dreamed of a modern city of monuments and broad avenues. He started several projects that became the foundation of the sweeping transformation wrought by his nephew Napoleon III. Imagine Paris without the rue de Rivoli or his statue atop the column in the center of the Place Vendôme. Thousands still flock to see his tomb at Les Invalides 200 years after his defeat at Waterloo. The Corsican General’s step is still resounds in Paris.
In Grade 5, I learned the song Napoléon avait 500 soldats (nap-o-lay-ohn av-eh sank sohn sol-dah), or “Napoleon had 500 soldiers.” It’s a simple tune where you drop one syllable off the end of a line each time you sing a verse. Once you get it in your head, you can’t get it out. The Corsican General’s step still resounds in my memory.