Sunday, January 16, 2011


Napoleon I is buried in SIX coffins.  Really, it's true... and whenever I hear that statement, I crack up...

On our first trip to Paris, we went totally blind.  No guide, no help, no group tour, nothing.  It was the biggest blessing to tour Paris this way... it's the only way in my opinion, as long as you have tons of patience.  We were constantly lost, tired, and hungry.  How our marriage survived and thrived during that first trip remains a mystery.

So one day we ventured out, and for the very first time during that trip, we went exactly right to the spot we needed... no back tracking... no deer-in-the-headlights look... we walked right up to the Rodin museum.  See how proud I look???

This photo was taken about 30 seconds before I read the sign... CLOSED on Mondays!  I thought I would cry.  We slowly walked away, and came upon this magnificent building.

I said to Scott, "Hey... I've seen this building in the book...I think we are supposed to see this, I think it's important."  (That's how clueless we were).  We crossed the street, and realized it was Invalides... I quickly scanned the guidebook, and explained to Scott that it's a war museum, and where Napoleon is "buried"... (well... sort of).  Inside we were not disappointed.  It is a beautiful building full of war memorabilia... Scott's favorite.  

 I read in the guidebook that Napoleon is entombed in six coffins.  As we wandered the museum, I looked around, confused.  Everything was in French, of course, and for the life of me, I couldn't grasp the six coffin concept.  I saw lots of coffins...his brother, other military leaders, etc.  In the center of the building, is one huge beautiful casket...

All I could think was... 
"This must be where his head is.  It's the biggest, most elaborate one... but I wonder where the other five caskets are??? What is the reason... did they put the legs in one, the arms in one, the torso..."  
I thought the whole thing a little macabre!  Finally, I mentioned this to Scott, and well... he stared at me a moment, and started laughing.  I hate not to be in on the joke, but instinctively, I started laughing too, a nervous laughter. He said, and I quote, "The coffins are inside one another you idiot." This was said with love and care of course.

 Here's the explanation, that I guess should have been obvious:

The first coffin is tin, the second mahogany, the third and fourth lead, the fifth ebony, and the sixth porphyry. Porphyry simply means stone.  (

We still laugh about this!  I wonder... has anyone else thought what I thought???




Stephanie said...

That's funny. I really wanted to see this building but did not have enough time. Next time I'll make sure to visit.

*Simply Colette* said...

I like this post, so nice when things like that happen!

char said...

Hillarious, Teri!

I hope Napoleon was really dead, that would be quite a test to get out of that box! I saw something like that in Cairo, except they were gold and shaped like the dude inside. That's what makes the world go around. It just takes my breath I would be so claustrophobic!

You are so darn funny when you tell your stories on yourself. I love it.


Priscilla said...

The heart of Richard I (Coeur de Lion) is buried at Rouen in Normandy, the entrails in Châlus (where he died) and the rest of his body was buried at the feet of his father at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.
See, it happens to the best of them.

Mya said...

If I had read that a person was buried in a number of coffins I believe I would first think the same thing you did, and yes I have seen the way they buried the pharoahs - layered coffins - however. Nap. wasn't Egyptian.

A Tale of Two Cities said...

Can't say that I shared your same thoughts, but it did seem fairly "over the top" when I first learned about it. And did you know this is not his original burial spot, but one that came about years later after much controversy? Great information at
I was curious after reading your blog and so I chased down the rest of the story and reminded myself of the details.

Love your Paris stories,

JBeaudetStudios said...

Hi Teri! I miss your sense of humor! I always laugh when I read your posts:) I also really enjoy your detailed accounts of your trips to Paris! And dream about the day I will get to see it all in person. Jennifer:)

Jenny said...

That would be me to a "T". So made me chuckle...great great pics by the way.

The Flying Bee said...

So funny! I would have thought the same thing! lol

myletterstoemily said...

oh, i like your macabre interpretation much

"and here we have napoleon's right arm,
bigger than his left arm and with a tattoo
of 'mom' on the bicep. . . "

praying for scott, even though he ruined
the napoleon fun. :)

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