Exhibition of the Imperial Canoe of Napoleon I

Musée national de la Marine


Autumn 2020

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The Imperial Canoe of Napoleon I goes back to the Brittany coast
© Musée national de la Marine / Arnaud Fux

The Imperial Canoe of Napoleon I goes back to the Brittany coast

With a length of 19,04 meters and height of 5,45 meters, the Imperial Canoe of Napoleon I is one of the masterpieces of the collections of the national Maritime museum.

This boat — the only one of this type that France has kept in its integrity — will now be permanently exposed in the city of Brest, in front of the future Pole of the Maritime Excellences, at the Capuchins workshops.

The restoration of the Canoe will be carried out, in front of the public, in order to bring back to its former glory this gem of the national heritage. In order to do so, the museum partners with the Fondation du Patrimoine to launch a crowdfunding campaign.

The Canoe will officially be unveiled to the public in Autumn 2020. A specific space will be dedicated to its history at the national Maritime museum in Brest.

Historic reminder
© Musée national de la Marine/DR

Historic reminder

Built at the request of Napoleon I in 1810, the Canoe ensured the travel of the Emperor and his successor Napoleon III. A masterpiece in its own right, made of various woods, it is endowed with a figurehead representing Neptune and a large crown supported by four cherubs.

The Canoe was shipped to Brest from 1814 to 1943, when it was decided to transfer it to Paris, under the protection of the German authorities, in the new Naval Museum settling in the Palais de Chaillot. After more than a week of travel, the unthinkable happens: the doors of the Palace are too narrow! After two years of negotiations, an enormous breach is finally made into the wall to let it pass.

In October 2018, the same operation is conducted to transfer the Canoe from Paris to Brest.

See the project