Napoleonland? You’re having a laff…

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 , 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.”

You mean I could watch Napoleon sitting painfully (he had piles) upon his poor horse as his army got the stuffings kicked out of them?  Where do I sign up?

“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! 

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23 comments on “Napoleonland? You’re having a laff…

  1. cavalrytales says:

    Why didn’t the Brits think of this – it’s genius!

    At a stroke Jego’s brilliant idea will cut French unemployment, boost livestock and arable farmers, give wine producers a market for the cheap, nasty stuff they usually export to us and provide a short-term boost to sanitaryware manufacturers (or gravediggers should they decide ditches and planks are sufficient). All at sweat-shop wages and with every concession to poor quality. Not only that but their arms manufacturers will be so busy re-tooling to produce muskets and cannon we might get the Indian warplane contract back.

    Maybe if some bright spark had thought up ‘Cullodenland’ the Scots wouldn’t be so keen on leaving the Union. Or maybe they would.

  2. cavalrytales says:

    Reblogged this on Cavalrytales Blog and commented:
    Sorry – this is so good an article I simply had to re-blog it.

  3. My flabber is gasted. What next? A re-enactment of Auschwitz?

  4. J.A. Beard says:

    It strikes me as strange, but then again I come from a country where people routinely re-enact the bloodiest battles of our Civil War, so maybe I’m not in a position to say anything. :/

    • Bob Barrows says:

      Assuming you’re from the US, we don’t have a monopoly on Civil War battle enactments. There’s a thriving Civil War re-enactment society in England … their Civil War, not ours, of course!

      Just sayin’ 😉

      • M M Bennetts says:

        I have been to Civil War re-enactments here. Our Civil War. Though I’ve gone to more Peninsular War re-enactments, if I’m honest… (They’ve been trying to get me to join a dragoon regiment, as it happens…)

  5. Great article, M.M. I don’t know, though; I think the opportunity of skiing through a field of frozen corpses has a certain sort of something!
    Seriously (as difficult as it may be to be serious), this must be one of the more bizarre concepts I’ve heard for a theme park (even considering the re-enactors here!).

    • M M Bennetts says:

      What’s so bonkers about it is the sheer gobsmacking self-delusion of it. French tourists in Spain still get a hard time and are, well, often loathed, because of the Third of May and the atrocities of the French against the Spanish peasants and clergy–which of course started off the guerilla war…

      And contrariwise, British tourists, particularly in mountainous regions are often treated with the greatest courtesy because of the British help in ridding Spain of Napoleon’s men. They even on many rural churches have weathervanes in the shape of a British infantryman and they call these “Mambros”–their pronunciation of the name Marlborough, which is what they called Wellington, since his name is virtually unpronounceable in Spanish…

  6. Judith says:

    I don’t know what took them so long, I mean we all know Napoleon was a laugh a minute :)) extraordinary the length people go to to trivialise history. Personally, I can’t wait …expecially for the snow cones :))

  7. JLOakley says:

    There’s always Richard Sharpe to clear things up. Those book taught me a lot about the British in Spain, something I didn’t know.

    Napoleanland sounds fringe like some places in the south telling the life of the Lord and various shady characters from the Bible.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Obviously, I’m looking at this from the wrong end: The whole park can be divided in two–on one side we can have Sharpe’s adventures, and on the other Captain Aubrey and Doctor Maturin’s…Great! We’re sorted.

  8. Debra Brown says:

    It’s been far too long since there has been a good war on our doorsteps, and I think this may fill the gap.

  9. Spiffing good post – What a clever man Jego is – I’ve always had a hankering for watching villages pillaged, women raped and men die……..

    What a lobcock!

  10. rappleyea says:

    De-lurking to say I hope the good folks of France contact the people of Manassas, Virginia and soon! Disney – the real one – wanted to put a “historic park” next to the site of the Civil War Battle of Bull Run. There was a massive outpouring of opposition, committees were formed, etc., etc., and eventually Disney capitulated. The Shenandoah Valley is still theme park free. I hope the French will fight this insanity.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      What I want to know is what is Monsieur Jeno smoking (or is it special mushrooms on his pizza?) and does one require a prescription for it?

  11. Debra Brown says:

    Insanity is right. Good for Shenandoah!

  12. […] heated debates here and there about Napoleon recently–many I suspect prompted by the proposed Napoleonland theme park in […]

  13. Flo Dove says:

    Touring events that caused the death of some 6 or so million people into an amusement park is, well, sick. How about a Pol Pot or a Stalin amusement park? Good grief!

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Yes, I believe the Spanish, Germans and the Russians found the whole thing in rather poor taste, bless ’em.

      Actually, the whole thing is very peculiar indeed as the French Government has on several occasions recently refused invitations to attend the 200th anniversary re-enactments of Austerlitz and Borodino, saying they didn’t think killing 19,000 Prussians doesn’t seem like a thing to celebrate…Which was quite a change from their previous attitude…

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