Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking you through the highlights of each days driving on this years rally..
Today I’m going to take a look at the route we will be driving on day 3, Friday, and a bit on day 4, Saturday.
As the name suggests the route we are taking follows much 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 meet no 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 Napoléon is a 325km part of the N85. The road was opened in 1932 and leads from the French Riviera to the southern Pre-Alps. It is marked along the way by statues of the flying eagle symbol.
The good news is we should complete the route in around 7 hours, not 7 days and of course we are doing it in reverse, down to Castellane and then hanging a right down to St Tropez.