16 Feb 2012

Napoleon theme park

A theme park dedicated to Napoleon, just 40 miles from the Arc de Triomphe that le petit caporal commissioned in 1806: that's the latest project of rightwing French MP and former Sarkozy minister Yves Jégo. Abroad, observers could be forgiven for almost choking on hearing this news: why not a Stalin or a Kim Jong-il theme park too? In France, however, no raised eyebrows; the news just came and went. At my local cafe in Paris, a regular remarked: "What a good idea, and while we're about it, let's close down Disneyland. What did Mickey Mouse do for the world, exactly?"


Napoleon's case is an odd one in France, his place in history not exactly contentious. Although hardly taught in schools, his legacy is everywhere to be seen: from the "N" adorning almost every bridge in Paris and monument in France to the country's 2,626 lycées, one of his many creations. We owe him the civil code, the baccalaureate, but also the administrative, judicial and educational framework in France and many other countries.

The Guardian