Route Napoléon is the route taken by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815 on his return from Elba. As a tourist attraction and part of the historical heritage this road was inaugurated 1932.

The current Route Napoléon follows the route taken by Napoléon in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble. In March of 1815, he began his journey with the intention to overthrow Louis the 18th.

From the French Riviera to the southern Pre-Alps

Napoléon returned from Elba and disembarked at Vallauris-Golfe-Juan on the night of 1 March, he and his small group of men stayed the first night in Cannes.

To avoid the Rhone valley and the troops in Marseilles, he decided to head north and cross the Alps between Digne and Sisteron to get to Grenoble. From Cannes, Napoléon and 1200 men went up to Grasse and then followed small trails and mule tracks through the hills to Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey, Escragnolles, and Séranon, where they stopped for the 2nd night.

Vallauris-Golfe-Juan
Vallauris-Golfe-Juan
Cannes
Cannes
Grasse
Grasse

On the morning of the 3rd day they left Séranon and marched another 24 km to Castellane where they rode through the centre of town in the middle of the afternoon. From there man of Napoléon went up over the Col des Leques (1146 m) and through the Clue de Taulanne in heavy snow, past Senez, and arrived to Barrême late and stayed for the night.

The advance guard left during the night, by the light of a full moon. Napoléon and his main troop left Barrême early on the morning of the 4th for the 30 km trip to Digne. After lunching in Digne, he followed the Bléone river to the Durance, where he stopped for the night at the château de Malijai.

On the 5th day, Napoléon marched north towards Sisteron, where a citadel guarded the narrow gap of the Durance. At l’Escale, he continued his trek on the east side of the river, through the village of Volonne. It turned out that Sisteron wasn’t guarded: Napoléon wasn’t expected to make such good time, he stopped for lunch, and continued his journey. He arrived to Gap by night.

On the 6th of March, he went up over the Col Bayard at 1248 m, and to Corps, 40 km north of Gap.

On the following 7th day of his journey, he marched another 25 km to La Mure, where the famous confrontation with Laffrey occurred. That evening, the Emperor made his grand entry into Grenoble.

Footsteps of Emperor

The French Riviera – Côte d’Azur

Portoferraio, Island of Elba → Vallauris Golfe-Juan → Cannes → Le Cannet → Mougins → Mouans Sartoux → Grasse → Saint Vallier de Thiey → St Cézaire sur Siagne → Escragnolles → Seranon → Châteauvieux

Haute Provence

Castellane → Senez → Barrême → Digne-les-Bains → Aiglun → Malijai → L’Escale → Château-Arnoux Saint-Auban → Volonne → Sisteron

Alps

Le Poët → Upaix → Ventavon → Monêtier Allemont → La Saulce → Tallard → Gap → La Fare en Champsaur → St Bonnet en Champsaur → Le Noyer → St Firmin → Corps → La Mure → Laffrey → Vizille → Brié et Angonnes → Grenoble

Distance & Travel Time – shortened version

Location Distance Total distance Time
Vallauris-Golfe-Juan
Cannes 6 6 0h14
Grasse 16 22 0h17
Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey 10 32 0h09
Castellane 51 83 0h48
Barrême 20 103 0h19
Digne-les-Bains 28 131 0h24
Malijai 18 149 0h14
Sisteron 19 168 0h19
Gap 48 216 0h40
Corps 36 252 0h35
La Mure 20 272 0h20
Champs-sur-Drac 25 297 0h20
Grenoble 13 310 0h15