The Objects

13th Mar 1815

Nap to lyon reduced width.jpeg
Source: Archives municipales de Lyon (936 WP 1859)

‘Lyonnais, je vous aime’

Contributed by: Jordan Girardin

Upon leaving Lyon for Paris on the 13th of March, Napoleon used once again a printed declaration as a way to thank the population for their support. He had already done so in the Hautes-Alpes and in Grenoble. This time, by emphasising how special the relationship between himself and Lyon was, he used a phrase that has remained famous in the history of the city: ‘Lyonnais, je vous aime’ (people of Lyon, I love you). Lyon had - and has - been a city that values a certain institutional equilibrium. Fiercely opposed to the Terror during the Revolution, the Lyonnais had found in Bonaparte the promise of more equality but also stability.

Napoleon visited Lyon in 1799, 1800, 1802 (from where he founded the Republic of Italy), and in 1805, when he told the local prefect ‘My real throne is in the Lyonnais' hearts’. His plans for a Grand Palais Impérial in the centre of the city never became real but inspired later buildings throughout the nineteenth century, such as Perrache train station.