Colonne commémorative dite "colonne Napoléon"
Quai Napoléon 76380 VAL-DE-LA-HAYE
Patrimoine rural de la Seine-Maritime
Located in the loops of the Seine at Val-de-la-Haye, the column commemorating the return of Napoleon's ashes has been watching the boats pass by on the Seine for more than a hundred and fifty years. On a beautiful sunny Sunday, I decided to go and discover one of the sites recently classified as Rural Heritage by the Department of Seine-Maritime.
I leave Rouen behind me and walk along the long quays that follow the river towards the estuary. On either side of the road, there are large port warehouses and silos that confirm the teeming activity characteristic of one of the largest grain ports in Europe, whose heart beats night and day
I am carried away by the swarming stream of vehicles that follows this road between the mushroom farms and the pretty little villages typical of the banks of the Seine. In this tumultuous road, I see a sign indicating Croisset on my right. It is in this village that the Flaubert pavilion is located, where the famous writer wrote one of the most famous novels in the world: Mme Bovary. Of course, I promise myself to come back there very soon. Continuing my journey, I think of these two great characters who have each marked the history of France in the 19th century and who have in common the year 1821, one for his birth, the other for his death. As I enter Val-de-la-Haye, the column known as Napoleon emerges on my left. I park near the Seine and admire the continuous ballet of boats. It makes you want to travel? it is definitely an unusual place!
The monument benefits from a landscaping delimited by bollards equipped with chains. My curiosity is sharpened. The sun is shining on the river. The walkers or cyclists share the totally secured green way which joins the ferry at Sahurs. The most curious make a stop at the foot of the column
Going around the gates, the column becomes an open book. I just have to turn the pages... It is a condensed version of the heroic journey of the mythical figure that was Napoleon I.
The great history is often written in the small history. It was on August 15, 1844, the anniversary of Napoleon's birth, that the first stone of the column commemorating the return of the Emperor's ashes was laid. Indeed, it was his wish to be buried on French soil. The repatriation of his coffin to the Invalides was done by river for political reasons. It was necessary to change boats before reaching Paris and the transfer was made to Val-de-la-Haye
Later on, it was decided to erect a monument at this place to mark this great event
I admire the elegance of this monument which alternates with green and white. At the top, a majestic eagle watches with its piercing eyes the coming and going of the numerous ships on the Seine. The imperial bird is supported by a Doric column, ringed in two places by bronze circles engraved with Napoleonic victories.
On the four faces of the column's die, are present the two great orders created by Napoleon and the date of the transshipment: December 9, 1840. On the last side is written the 15th of August 1844, day of the laying of the first stone
It is also very moving to know that in the foundations of the monument there is a box with a lock of the Emperor's hair, a piece of mahogany from his coffin, a piece of stone from the tomb of St. Helena and the list of subscribers to the column
I go from surprise to surprise. This monument is exceptional by its history and I am happy to have discovered it! I will be able to share an exceptional rural heritage with all the enthusiasts of Napoleon I and the first Empire
Next Sunday, I plan to go for a bike ride on the greenway along the Seine, taking the Napoleon column as a starting point. What a pleasure to ride in all serenity, to admire the castle of Hautot sur Seine, the old castle of Soquence and to join Sahurs.