Saint-Cloud was the site of the coup d'etat of Brumaire 18, year VIII ( November 9 and 10, 1799), but it was only after the announcement of his lifelong term as consulat in 1802, that Bonaparte settled into the castle. Erected after Mansart's plans and finished in 1785, the Saint-Cloud Castle was the theater for a number of events in the history of France, notably under the First and Second Empires. Official residence of the First Consul from 1802 to 1804 then imperial residence, it was the site of the wedding of Napoleon and his second spouse, Marie-Louise, in 1810. In 1815, the surrender of Paris was signed there. Napoleon III was proclaimed emperor there in 1852, thus giving back to Saint-Cloud its vocation as imperial residence. The war was declared there July 15, 1870 and three months later, when the Empire ceased to exist, the castle and the town burned following a Prussian bombardment. The castle ruins were razed in 1891.
Today only the park, designed by Lenôtre, remains. The major attractions are the Great Cascade and the Horse Shoe Basin. The Balustrade lane leads to the Lantern Terrace which dominates Paris at a height of 94 meters. Napoleon had installed at this site a tower called the Lantern of Demosthenes, a copy of the monument to Lysicrate in Athens, which signaled the presence of the Emperor at Saint-Cloud when it was illuminated. This monument was also destroyed during the war of 1870. The historical museum of the Saint-Cloud Estate displays an evocation of this highly historic place and of the dynasties that succeeded one another there. Currently closed for renovation, it reopens its doors at the end of 1996.