HISTORY: NAPOLEON BONAPARTE’S STAY IN NICE
To celebrate the 200 centuries of his death in exile at Sainte Hélène, we met the delegate of the “Souvenir Napoleonien” in Nice. He agreed to give us some information on the three different stays of Napoleon in Nice.
Nice County became French in 1860 only. So, in 1794, when an unknown French general came to
Nice, he settled in Italy, a country ready for the battle with the French Revolution. Today Bonaparte Street is one of the major axes of the town with a trendy district and fashionable shops. Few people know that Napoleon resided there. Then, major of the “Armée d’Italie”, notoriously deprived of means, he joined his troops in Nice and settled at N° 6 rue de Villefranche near Place Garibaldi with his orderly. “ I am general Bonaparte and here is my pass for my military lodgings”. The landlord was a shopkeeper and Napoleon resided there from March to September 1794. Rumour still has it that Bonaparte fell in love with the landlord’s daughter Emily aged 15. Her parents refused the union. This legend happens to be untrue since the daughter was only 10 years old and there may have been confusion with another Emily, a sales assistant whom Bonaparte had his eye on.
Today, it is impossible to visit either Napoleon’s lodgings or the building. A mere plaque on the wall informs the passer by of the fact.
In 1796, Bonaparte lived in the old town, 2 rue St François de Paule, where he remained from March the 26th to April the 2nd. A commemorative plaque saying, “Napoleon Bonaparte, commander in chief of the Army of Italy resided in this house from March the 26th till April the 2nd 1796” can be seen on the wall. It must be reminded that the street was at the time name “rue de l’Indivisibilité”. Bonaparte arrived with the following note: “This is an order from the purser in charge of the quarter policy to J.B. Sauvaigue to provide the new commander in chief with the fourth floor of your building so as to accommodate temporarily general Bonaparte who is to take the command of the Army of Italy and who is due to arrive today”. On March the 9th, Napoleon wedded Joséphine in Paris, on the 11th he left Paris to join his army in Nice with his Chief of Staff, Berthier. On the 30th, he wrote a hot love letter to Joséphine under Nice azure sky, the first of a famous series. On the same day, he attended the Youth Festival in the municipal building located rue Alexandre Mari as confirmed by a commemorative plaque saying: ”On March the 30th, the Youth Day, Napoleon Bonaparte came to this Municipal Building in Nice”.
History has given Napoleon Bonaparte his share, which cannot be summed up in a few lines.
We owe this article to an enthusiastic admirer of the historical character, Mr Olivier Ghebali, Délégué du Souvenir Napoleonien. Our gratitude goes to his immense knowledge, his extreme kindness and his rare benevolence.