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Napoleon's Paris (Paperback)

A Guide to the Napoleonic Sites of the Consulate and First French Empire 1799–1815

Napoleonic Military

By David Buttery
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 70 colour & black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526749475
Published: 28th July 2020



In the press

Napoleon Bicentenary: An interview with the author via Complete France. Click here to read the article online.

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Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the most influential rulers in European history. Renowned as a military commander, he was also a great statesman, administrator, lawmaker and builder – and his civic achievements outlived and arguably eclipsed his victories on the battlefield. Yet while there are a host of biographies and studies of his military and political career, few books have been written about his connections with Paris, the capital of his empire, where many remarkable buildings and monuments date from his time in power. That is why David Buttery’s highly illustrated guidebook to Napoleon’s Paris is such a timely and valuable addition to the literature designed for visitors to the city.

Many of the most famous sites in the city were built or enhanced on Napoleon’s instructions or are closely associated with him and with the period of the First French Empire – the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Hôtel des Invalides, Musée de l'Armée, Notre Dame Cathedral, Père-Lachaise Cemetery among them. David Buttery’s guide covers them all in evocative detail. His work is essential reading for every visitor to Paris who is keen to gain an insight into the influence of Napoleon on the city and the tumultuous period in French history in which he was the dominant figure.

Buttery’s “Napoleon’s Paris” serves not just as a history book but also as a valuable tourist guide; it provides practical advice on planning trips to famous locations both in and out of Paris and even recommends several walk paths illustrated by maps. Its devotion to detail surely makes this book as a worthy travel companion for anyone who wishes to learn more about the First French Empire and Napoleon’s numerous legacies that well survived into the Fifth French Republic.

Read the full review here

Amazon, Wandering Merchant

Featured on the website of

Portsmouth Napoleonic Society

As featured in.

France Magazine

A useful guide to know the Paris of Napoleon.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

Author interview featured on Complete France

Read the full interview here

Complete France

"Overall, this book has a lot to recommend it for someone planning a trip to Paris."

The Napoleonic Historical Society Newsletter, June - July 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Must Have Guidebook!

I received this book as a present and I absolutely loved it! First and foremost, it is impressively researched. The prose is thoroughly engaging and the author's asides are charming (my favorite being "... these are intended as casual strolls rather than Napoleonic route marches!") I spent 9 months living in Paris several years ago. Reading this book felt like a glorious return to familiar places in the company of a trusted friend who provided insightful historic commentary letting me see everything in a new light. It's been a hard year of lock down and this book was a breath of fresh air allowing me to travel back to one of my favorite cities in the world while still at home. When I return to Paris, I will definitely pack this book!

Review by Kelly Epstein, Amazon USA and Good Reads

Review by Stephen Ede-Borrett

This book is certainly enough to make me plan my next visit to Paris just to see and find some of the lesser-known locations that Buttery describes but to do the book justice I think I would have to be there for two weeks! But even if you have no plans to be in Paris I guarantee that any “Napoleon Enthusiast” will find a great deal of interest within these pages.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough.

The Pike and Shot Society

Review by Charles Esdaile

To conclude, then, Napoleon’s Paris is genuinely an excellent guide for those who wish to travel to the French capital to explore the physical legacy of the First Empire, but is much weaker when it comes to exploring the historical context of the Arc de Triomphe and its many fellows, as well as being completely devoid of any recognition that, whilst Bonaparte’s rule left Paris a more beautiful place, it left France a much poorer country.

European History Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 4.

Napoleon's Paris is genuinely an excellent guide for those who wish to travel to the French capital to explore the physical legacy of the First Empire.

Charles Esdaile, European History Quarterly

Finally, a guidebook for Napoleonic History enthusiasts! The book is divided into ten chapters, the first two provide a short history of Napoleon and his plans for the city of Paris. The next seven chapters talk about the different places and sites to see. In general, each chapter gives a short overview of about the site and then it gives practical information, such things as where it is located, what Metro stops ­=are near it, where to park for the optimistic driver, opening hours, cost of tickets to get in, a map highlighting the things the author recommends, whether is food available, etc. One of the most important things he includes is a web address for the reader to find out current information on what exhibits are there, possible changes to the hours they are open, and the current ticket prices.

This is a must have guide for those visiting Paris. I wish I had it when I was last there.

Robert Burnham, The Napoleon Series

While there are numerous biographies and studies of his military and political career, few books have been written about Napoleon’s connections with Paris, the capital of his empire, where many remarkable buildings and monuments date from his time in power. David Buttery’s lavishly illustrated guidebook to Napoleon’s Paris addresses this neglect. Many of the most famous sites in the city were built or enhanced on Napoleon’s instructions or are closely associated with him and with the period of the First French Empire – the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Hotel des Invalides, Musee de l’Armee, Notre Dame Cathedral, Pere Lachaise Cemetery among them.
Buttery’s book is recommended reading for the visitor to Paris who is keen to gain an insight into the influence of Napoleon on the city and the tumultuous period in French history in which he was the dominant figure.

Read the full review here

Julian Stockwin

Buttery charts the building of the monuments, the restoration of the palaces, the paving of the streets, and all the intricate transformations that go into giving a city a global reputation. Butt he also looks at the ways Paris commemorated her patron, the statues scattered across the city, the museums dedicated to him and his soldiers, even the cemeteries where those warriors were laid to rest. Talking of fallen warriors, Buttery is especially good at showing how Paris was affected by those final battles of Napoleon’s regime in 1814 and 1815, and at showing how Napoleon’s capital has been changed by more recent events, be it war or the grand ambition of town planners.

There is plenty of practical information in this magnificent book, so for those concerned about opening times and transport links, you can leave your Lonely Guide or Rough Planet behind. There are some lovely mapped walks here which are particularly nice and which allow the visitor to wander with intent. There are also some great asides on the imperial palaces and sites scattered just beyond the city limits. In short, it is really the only book the Napoleonic enthusiast needs when in the capital of France.

Read the full review here

JP North

This beautifully illustrated book is an essential ingredient to anyone wanting to explore Paris or indeed for anyone familiar with the city. I have visited Paris numerous times but this informative guidebook has appreciably made me aware of the different nuances I have yet to see and discover! The book has been expertly researched and written in an extremely engaging style that suits either dipping into whilst touring or alternatively a good leisurely read.
The wealth of knowledge, military, political and personal into the abiding charisma of Napoleon has been perfectly captured by Buttery. The trails, suggested walks and suggested pointers on what to see and explore as well as a fascinating discourse into the background to the numerous statutes, monuments and buildings associated with the Consulate and First French Empire are invaluably insightful. Buttery’s enthusiasm and keen regard for his subject matter and the city of Paris are rousing … this book has certainly galvanized a momentum in me to follow in his footsteps and explore the streets that still disclose … when one knows what to look for … the influence of Napoleon!
Vive l'Empereur!

Amazon Customer

Buttery provides a balanced view of the man and his impact on the great city of Paris. The author caveats his book by explaining that the contents are constrained by the size of the book. I hope, on the strength of this book, there is a sequel.

The book is informative and helpful. It tackles the challenge of a plethora of potential sites by providing focus. Interspersed throughout the book are anecdotes which provide colour and interest.

There is a useful potted history of Napoleon and a narrative on the 1814 battle of Paris. Both serve well in providing context. The use of suggested walks and guidance on navigating the challenges of Pere Lachaise will be helpful to both tourists and devotees of the period.

The book is thoroughly recommended

Read the full review here

Amazon Customer

I have been using David Buttery's excellent 'Waterloo Battlefield Guide' on visits there for years, and still find it a source of invaluable information. His latest guide: 'Napoleon's Paris' is a very worthy successor. Much, much more than a mere guidebook, this is a work of reference which, in hardback form, deserves a place on a any serious historian's bookshelf - yet in softback form is light enough to pack as an inspirational guide to a fascinating tour of hidden Paris. As one would expect of Buttery, it is painstakingly researched and clearly set out in very readable form with excellent colour illustrations and clear maps. Equally enjoyable, whether or not you go to Paris!

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Amazon Customer

The book is a 248-page pocket guide that tells us and makes us relive Napoleon's Paris. In my opinion it is an excellent book that leaves nothing important out of the present itineraries. It is obvious that there are many Paris, that history did not stop with Napoleon and that there are 1000 other places to visit, but if you really want to retrace Napoleon's steps in his beloved capital, David Buttery's guide is an excellent companion !!!

Read the full Italian review here

On The Old Barbed Wire

For anyone interested in the history of the period, I can wholeheartedly recommend this book, equally, for anyone who has little knowledge of this period – as the author says in the introduction, “it is always dangerous to assume knowledge so this book is designed to cater for various levels of interest in Napoleon”. – give it a read, I think you’ll be richer for it – if nothing else, there’s lots of ‘pub quiz’, or more likely these days ‘Zoom quiz’ winning material hidden within.

I visited Paris as a child, this book has given me the enthusiasm to go there again, this time with a much better depth of knowledge. It has also given me an appetite to search out more works by the author, I was aware of him previously but somehow never read any of his books, given my Father’s interest in the period he covers – I’m not sure why!

Highly recommended 5/5

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

David Buttery's superb guide is as useful now as it would have been at the time these magnificent edifices were being erected.

Books Monthly

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Being genuinely interested in the Napoleonic times and loving Paris, this book has been a real treat for me. It's informative and interesting while it also provides loads of useful information. The balance of text and illustration is perfect, too.

NetGalley, Flora Korompai

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A well-researched guidebook. Definitely for someone with a basic familiarity with both Napoleon and Paris, but provided a nice overview of points of interest and some less travelled attractions (I specifically enjoyed the section on Pere Lachaise).

NetGalley, Kathleen Coleman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Many times, Mr. Buttery refers to this book as a "guidebook" but it is so much more than that. Reading this book and searching for images of places, people, and objects mentioned, I feel like I've had a fully-guided tour of Paris and gained a great deal of knowledge about its history. Everything you could want to know is included (the length of the index tells you all you need to know) both before and during a trip to Paris. If I ever manage to get to France again, I will be bringing this book with me.

NetGalley, Dawn Lewis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is more than a book. Buttery gives us a deeply humane and expansive look at Paris through places connected with Napoleon. But it's not just Napoleon, nor just his time. The interweaving of place, events, culture and lives lived, makes this a permanent reference of how a world develops and reaches across generations. Paris, Napoleon, France, wars, and how we relate to them and their significance is not singular. Buttery is a companion as we understand those relationships. A marvelous book, full of marvel. I would recommend this book to anyone.

NetGalley, Willy Marz

This book opened my eyes a bit more to what I've been missing. It was really good, and the authors perspective on the subject really came through. I highly recommend!

NetGalley, Alicia Goeser

I wish that I had this with me on my last trip to Paris, the book is a handy size to fit in your pocket and comes with some really great maps. I particularly liked the section on Père Lachaise Cemetery showing the whereabouts of the Marshalls. Richly illustrated with loads of facts and information as I have said in the title a must have.
Vic Powell
Portsmouth Napoleonic Society

Vic Powell

This is quite simply a superb guide to the places in Paris associated with Napoleon. It is history, geography and insight, coupled with excellent maps and images to ensure a full and meaningful visit to Paris. All I have to do is convince my wife that a visit to Les Invalides and Pere Lachaise is a necessary part of a romantic weekend!

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
 David Buttery

About David Buttery

David Buttery has established a reputation as a leading historian of nineteenth-century British military history. He has made a particular study of the Napoleonic and Crimean wars. He has worked in newspapers and museums and has published extensively in many of the leading military history periodicals including the Victorian Military Society's journal, The Leicestershire Chronicle and Military Illustrated. His most recent books are Wellington Against Massena: The Third Invasion of Portugal 1810-1811, Messenger of Death: Captain Nolan and the Charge of the Light Brigade, Wellington Against Junot: The First Invasion of Portugal 1807-1808 and the Waterloo Battlefield Guide.

Napoleon dies in exile

5th May 1821

Following the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the island of Saint Helena off the coast of Africa. Six years later, he died there. His body was returned to Paris in 1840, where it was interred in the Hôtel des Invalides.

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