Napoleon & Golf-Juan
Golf-Juan is a small depressed town that most tourists bypass when they come to the Côte d’Azur. It lies between the more attractive, expensive Cannes and Juan-les-Pins. I walk there in the afternoon from Antibes when the sky is clear and the sun shines. After the sun has warmed Antibes in the morning, I stroll over the hill to Juan-les-Pins and sometimes further to Golf-Juan to profit from the sun until it goes down in the late afternoon when the temperatures drop quickly and the breeze picks up and chills the air.
Walking along the beach front, the flâneur can easily see the two parts of Golf-Juan in the eating establishments. Stand on the side walk and look to the Sea. Expensive restaurants line the walk. Look inland, across the road to the buildings facing the Sea, where more modest brasseries and bistros serve serviceable lunches.
Napoleon landed surreptitiously at Golf-Juan in March, 1815 after an exile on the island of Elba off the coast of Italy. France Monthly tells the story. It is worth repeating:
On February 26, 1815, at nightfall, seven ships left the port in the utmost secrecy, during a ball given by the emperor’s mother and Princess Pauline. The flotilla carried 1,100 men, about one hundred horses, arms, and a few cannons. Only Napoleon and his two generals knew what their final destination was. The others had been given sealed letters the day before, with orders to only open them the next day. There was an episode of frayed nerves when the flotilla crossed paths with a French warship. Unsuspecting, the ship came closer to “The Inconstant” which carried Napoleon. The captain inquired about any news of the emperor and Napoleon himself took the megaphone to answer that “the emperor was, indeed, doing well”. The expedition then continued on its way without incident until it reached the area around Golfe Juan on Wednesday, March 1st. The fishermen who witnessed the arrival couldn’t believe their eyes, the Emperor was back! One of them ran out into the water to guide the emperor’s boat back to the land of France.
The Route Napoleon begins in Golf-Juan. It follows his escape. The following YouTube video shows more beautiful parts of Golf-Juan. It is short and shows the first part of the route that extends to Grenoble.
In September 1913, Paul Signac rented a house at Antibes. He ventured over to Golf-Juan and painted “Golf Juan” in the pointillist style that made him and Georges Seurat famous.