No, I’m not. It is not a joke. And no, I am not making it up.
I don’t have to. A former French minister, one Yves Jego, beat me to it.
(Yes, I am already laughing…)
According to a recent Telegraph article, Monsieur Jego has drawn up plans for an amusement park to rival Disneyland (in whose mind?) to be located at the site of the French Emperor’s (mushroom Corsican upstart) final win against the Austrians in 1814, at Montereau just south of Paris.
I’ll wager the Austrians can’t wait to visit!
The article, by Henry Samuel, reported that “the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, in which the Duke of Wellington ended Napoleon’s rule in France, could be recreated on a daily basis with visitors perhaps even able be able to take part in the reenactments.”
“They will also be able to take in a water show recreating the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, in which Lord Nelson scored a decisive victory over a French and Spanish coalition aboard HMS Victory but died in the process. [An interesting choice, given that Napoleon reported Trafalgar as a French victory.]
“But the park will also give pride of place to Napoleon’s greatest victories, in particular the Battle of Austerlitz in which the Russo-Austrian army was decisively defeated.
“Other curious potential attractions include a ski run through a battlefield ‘surrounded by the frozen bodies of soldiers and horses’ and a recreation of Louis XVI being guillotined during the revolution…
“‘It’s going to be fun for the family,’ Mr Jégo told the Times.”
I can hardly wait.
Think of the possibilities.
They could have the Russian Invasion ride–always a favourite–where you could gasp with delight as Moscow goes up in flames, watch as 73,000 men die in one day, and you’d get a special lessons in looting and pillage and firebombing wooden cities like Smolensk.
Imagine too the fun of watching 500,000 French soldiers and re-enactors freezing to death while their trousers fall down because the tin buttons on their trousers have turned to powder. Think too of the laughs as all about you blokes fell to the ground with dysentery and their horses drowned in the mire of the Polish sandy roads. And of course, there’d be an extra-special Russian peasant village sideshow where deserters get tortured. Uncooked horse-burgers will be on offer for those who are feeling peckish. And sno-cones, of course.
And speaking of torture, who wants to join me for the Peninsular War ride? Now that’s going to be a spiffing example of history merging with fun, fun, fun, don’t you reckon?
There could be living tableaux of Goya’s etchings of the Disasters of War as well as his famous Third of May, all presided over by King Joseph–Napoleon’s elder brother, known by the Spanish as Pepe Botella (Joe the Fat)…And for that realistic touch, there could be a recreation of the French cavalry charge through the streets of Madrid, slicing the Madrilenos until the streets were knee-high in blood and bones…I bet that would get the Spanish visitors queueing up!
The Italian occupation village will offer special lessons in looting great works of art, including how to remove frescos from walls, how to melt down chalices and altarpieces, and how to remove oil paintings from their frames, roll them up and stick them in your rucksack…
And if you’re staging Austerlitz where the Austrians and Russians were massacred, (and I know those Russian tourists will want to linger there…) why not go all out and have Ulm, Jena and Wagram too?
And Leipzig! Don’t neglect that–the Battle of the Nations it’s also called, M. Jego. In case you didn’t know. That’s where Austria, Prussia and Russia whipped your scrawny French, er, seating apparatus…
There could be special kiosks where you can go to contract typhus–that ought to be a giggle a minute!
But wait, this is fun for the whole family, isn’t that right? So there needs to be something for the big boys too, doesn’t there? So how about a Paulina Bonaparte ride–no minimum height requirement, just age of consent.
Obviously, the cafes will want to reflect Napoleonic cuisine…so, because of the Continental Blockade he instituted I think it’s only fair if the Park serve no coffee, no tea and offer neither sugar nor chocolate in any form.
And I’m thinking for tickets–you could have the Battle of the Nile ticket–which is just for the evening, until the whole thing is blown sky-high; the Trafalgar ticket–the daylong French disaster; or the Waterloo ticket–three days of unalloyed amusement, and visitors can start picking over the corpses on the third evening…
I mean, M. Jego is right, isn’t he? Over six million people died in the Napoleonic wars, just 200 years ago. And that’s something France, and Europe too, ought to be celebrating!