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A day in the life of Napoleon I (1)


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A day in the life of Napoleon I (1)
Brosse à dent de Napoléon Ier © Malmaison - RMN

A wash and brush-up

Each morning, Napoleon would get up at around 7am. As soon as he was up, he would have a cup of tea or an orange blossom infusion and read the day’s post with his secretary. He was very sensitive to the cold and so would always sit next to the fireplace, with a roaring fire already lit. After his tea and post, he would summon his servants to take his bath and get dressed. This would take nearly two hours as, unlike many of his contemporaries, Napoleon took his personal hygiene very seriously. With his personal valet, Constant, holding the mirror, Napoleon would then have a shave, doing it himself. When on a military campaign, he made sure that he always had with him his little box containing all the necessary hygiene items, including a comb, razors, nail scissors and files, toothbrushes and bottles of eau de cologne.

Bath time!

Napoleon loved taking baths, which always had to be very hot. As Napoleon read the newspapers and took his hour-long baths, his servants would bustle around him, continually adding hot water to keep the bath at the right temperature. After his bath and shave, Napoleon would be rubbed down in eau de cologne and then his valet would dress him. He would wear a shirt, a waistcoat, tight-fitting trousers and stockings. He would then put on his colonel de grenadier uniform (which was blue) or his chasseur de la Garde uniform (which was green). He would finish it all off with his famous black, two-horned hat; he would have a new one bought for him each month. During the winter campaigns, he would also wear a large grey coat to keep himself warm from the cold and the rain.

The morning: visitors and lunch

In the morning, Napoleon would receive his brothers and his aides de camp who transmitted his orders as well as ambassadors and foreign representatives. Between 11am and noon, he would take lunch, sat at a small table in the company of his secretary and one or two others. Sometimes he would lunch with his wife. Lunch was always quick, sometimes barely lasting fifteen minutes! Napoleon preferred simple food, such as roast chicken, pasta (which he discovered during the Première Campagne d’Italie) and wine mixed with water. Afterwards, he would have a cup of coffee.

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