During our stay in Fontainebleau, we visited the Musée Napoléon 1er . Housed in the Château de Fontainebleau, this museum is a paradise for Emperor enthusiasts. Here you can discover or rediscover the life of the Emperor, the Empire and those close to Napoleon.
In addition, a large number of period objects, some of which belonged directly to Napoleon, are on display.
What can you discover in the Museum of the First Empire?
The Musée Napoléon 1er currently comprises 10 rooms featuring objects that bring the Napoleonic epic to life.
Pell-mell, you will find Napoleonic objects such as :
- Clothes worn by the Emperor
- Napoleonic-era tableware
- Weapons that belonged to his family or his army
- Toys from the King of Rome…
Some of the rooms are reconstructions, such as the camp during the military campaigns, or the bedroom of the heir, Napoleon’s son, better known as the King of Rome or the Imperial Prince. In fact, I found that the latter was brought to the fore as rarely as possible. This is logical, given Napoleon’s desire and love for his heir.
The Napoleon I Museum’s many display cases are rich in information. The objects are numerous, and if you read all the information, you’ll learn a lot.
The museum does not retrace the entire life of Napoleon Bonaparte. While a few objects recall his military beginnings, the main focus is on the creation of the Empire and his death.
Once you’ve visited the museum, there’s no need to rush down the corridor to the exit. There are large paintings and busts of Napoleon’s entourage to admire.
The collection was first exhibited in 1986 thanks to donations from Prince and Princess Napoleon. Since then, it has grown steadily, and now boasts some 3,000 works.
The museum, the perfect complement to a visit to the apartments of the Château de Fontainebleau
Napoleon Bonaparte spent a lot of time at the Château de Fontainebleau. It was here that he bid farewell to his troops and abdicated his throne.
During your visit to the château, you’ll pass through several rooms dedicated to Napoleon 1er , including his office and the throne room.
The museum is an ideal complement. It provides a more intimate, cultural setting with the wealth of objects, while several of the castle’s rooms showcase the view.
What are the opening hours of the Napoleon 1er Museumer ?
The Musée Napoléon 1er is open at the same times as the rest of the Château de Fontainebleau, i.e. :
- 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October to March
- 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April to September.
Is a visit to the Napoleon I museum free?
No, but it is included in the single admission ticket to the château.
The ticket, priced at €13 for the full rate and €11 for the reduced rate, entitles the holder to visit the Grands Appartements of the château + the Musée Napoléon Ier.
Tip: you can find tickets with priority access and free cancellation on Tiqets.
How long does a visit to the First Empire Museum last?
It all depends on your level of interest. If all you want to do is take a quick look at the objects, focusing only on the largest pieces, you’ll be done in 20 minutes.
On the other hand, if you really look at the whole collection and read the written information, you’ll easily spend 1 hour in the museum.
Our review of the Musée Napoléon 1er
When visiting the Château de Fontainebleau, the Musée Napoléon I is an interesting addition.
But if, like me, you’re an admirer of the whole Napoleonic era, this is more than a supplement. The Emperor’s frock coat, the King of Rome’s cradle or even the period rifles – the pleasure of discovering them is immense.
Of course, such a visit is an interesting way of getting to know the Emperor and seeing period objects, but you won’t make any great discoveries if you’re already familiar with this part of French history. It should be complemented by other visits. An excellent resource is napoleon-empire.net. This site has a “Tourism” category that lists all the places to visit.
Unfortunately, the light and the display cases make it difficult to take good photos… and while I was immersed in the museum, I forgot to take out my camera. The photos in this article, with the exception of the rear view of the château, are taken from free image banks.