Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769 in Ajaccio, the capital of the island of Corsica. Today, down a tiny side street, the house he was born in is open to the public as Musée de la maison Bonaparte à Ajaccio.
Napoleon was born to a moderately wealthy family of some noble Tuscan heritage, which had been in Corsica since the 16th century. His parents originally christened him Napoleone di Buonaparte, and it wasn’t until he was in his 20s that he changed it to something that sounded a little more French. Ironically, being from Corsica, he never learned to speak French without a strong Corsican accent, and he never could wrap his head very well around French spelling.
The house on Rue Saint-Charles was in the hands of the Bonapartes going back to 1682, and except for some tumultuous years in the late 18th century when the family had to flee Corsica for mainland France (they didn’t get along so well with the guy in charge at the time), the house stayed in Bonaparte hands well into the 20th century. In the late 1960s it was given to the French government by the latest Bonaparte, Prince Victor Napoleon, and it has since been a national museum.
Napoleon played in the well-appointed rooms of the house until the age of 9 when he was sent off to school, and these rooms now house artifacts from the famous ruler’s life. The museum has even pin-pointed the exact room where he was probably born. And since they also have possession of his death mask, you can see both the beginning and the end of Le petit Caporal’s life.
Know Before You Go
Maison Bonaparte is open every day except Monday.
From October 1st to March 31st the hours are 10:30 to 4:30, and from April 1st to September 30th, 10:30 to 6:00. They are closed for lunch every day from 12:30 to 1:15, and last entry is always one half hour before closing for lunch and for the day.
Entry fee is €7 for adults, children are free. Check the website for details on reduced admission fees (and the Museum is free for everyone on the 1st Sunday of the month).