For our next Glimpses of the World photo, and the last from France, we have this magnificent coach:


from Glimpses of the World (1892) - page 55.

Here is the caption that accompanies the image in the book:

Among the relics of royalty and of the empire displayed at Versailles is this magnificent vehicle, the woodwork of which is one mass of gilding, while the interior decorations are of the most elegant description. This is said to be the carriage in which the Emperor Napoleon I went with the Empress Marie Louise to solemnize their [1810] marriage in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. [Their wedding actually took place at the Louvre.] All Paris was in the greatest excitement, and Napoleon’s future seemed then brilliant beyond all precedent in modern history. Yet in reality these gilded wheels were swiftly bearing him to what Napoleon himself subsequently called, “an abyss covered with flowers.” And such indeed proved to be this fatal marriage following his divorce from Josephine. No doubt Napoleon’s pride was gratified, as in this gorgeous vehicle he sat beside his Austrian bride, but it was certainly impossible for him to ever love her as he had once loved Josephine. The latter, slightly older than himself, had been his life-long confidant and friend. She had at first contributed much to his success. Her intuitions made her a most useful counselor. But what was Marie Louise? A simple, inexperienced girl, with whom the emperor always wore a mask, lest his designs should through her reach the court of Austria! The one possessed a character as weak and vacillating at her face would indicate. The other proved herself a heroine by sacrificing to the interests of France not only the most enviable throne in Europe, but also the most famous of earth’s sovereigns, and the man she loved. “It will not bring him fortune,” said the common people when the divorce had been proclaimed, and they were right.


Interestingly, even though our book was published only eighty-two years after the events of 1810, the caption is incorrect.

This coach was not used by Napoleon I. Rather, a whopping thirty-four ceremonial Berlins were ordered (from fourteen Paris coachbuilders) specifically for the wedding procession. The two known as “La Victoire” and “La Cornaline” were used by the imperial couple.

The ornate coach shown above was built in 1814 and was used in 1825 as Charles X’s coronation coach. In 1856, it was renovated — and the Napoleonic “N”s were added — and was used for the baptism of Napoleon III’s son.

It’s now in the collection at the Palace of Versailles and is, in fact, currently on display in the “Roulez carrosses!” exhibit (through November 10) at Le Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Arras in France.

You can see color photos of the coach and read more about it here.