I went to the Museum of the “Légion d’Honneur” (Legion of Honuor) basically to see Napoleon’s “Berlin”, a carriage which was temporarily exposed there (exposition finished July 8). Unfortunately, I had only the time to take the above photo, before I was advised that photos were not allowed. Well I could at least see it and also a lot of items which once belonged to or were linked to Napoleon, including a redingote, frock, the hat and the sword he wore and carried at Waterloo... the “silver” used for the meals, his dental equipment…
... and I could of course take some photos from the outside. The building, which is immediate neighbour to the the Orsay Museum (see previous post), was originally built for the Prince of Salm-Kyrburg, just before the French Revolution (during which the Prince was beheaded), sold to the “Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honour” in 1804. It more or less burnt down during the “Commune” in 1871, was reconstructed… In 1922 the Museum was added.
If you are interested in different orders of chivalry and different national , religious, military decorations, the Museum has hundreds (thousands?) of them from all countries in the world… and also some remarkable paintings, portraits…
The concentration is of course on the French Legion of Honour, which was created by Napoleon in 1802. The first distribution took place at the Invalides (see previous posts) in 1804.
Reverting to the major reason for my visit: The “Berlin” is a lighter type of carriage which around 1670 was designed for the Elector of Brandenburg - Berlin was then the capital of Brandenburg. The one we could see at the museum was originally built for Napoleon’s Russian campaign (1812). He had a larger more comfortable carriage, “La Dormeuse” (the sleeping car). Both were confiscated after the battle of Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon left the battlefield on a horseback, still wearing his hat and his sword. “La Dormeuse”, after several owner changes, ended up at Madame Tussaud’s in London, where it was destroyed by fire in 1925. The smaller “Berlin” was brought to Prussia and the Kaiser Wilhelm I by the Field Marshal von Blücher, but remained in the Blücher family until it was given back to France in 1971.
As I could not take the pictures of the “Berlin”, here are at least some illustrations, showing that it really was present during the battles.
Napoleon’s hat, which was the one he actually wore at Waterloo, is normally to be found at the Museum of Sens in Burgundy. The “Berlin” should hopefully soon be back and visible at the Malmaison castle, just outside Paris.