The current Route Napoléon, first opened in 1932, follows the route taken by Napoléon I (Napoléon Bonaparte) in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble. Napoléon had abdicated in April of 1814 and gone to Elba (history). In March of 1815, he began his journey with the intention to overthrow Louis the 18th.
Napoléon returned from Elba and landed at Golfe-Juan on the night of 1 March, and he and his small group of men stayed the first night in Cannes.
To avoid the Rhone valley and the troups in Marseilles to the west, he decided to head north and cross the Alps between Digne and Sisteron to get to Grenoble. From Cannes, Napoléon and 1200 men went up to Grasse and then followed small trails and mule tracks through the hills to St-Vallier, Escragnolles, and Séranon, where they stopped for the night.
On the morning of the 3rd, they left Séranon and marched another 24 km to Castellane where they rode through the center of town in the middle of the afternoon. From there they went up over the Col des Leques (1146 m) and through the Clue de Taulanne in heavy snow, past Senez and on to Barrême, where they arrived late and stayed for the night.
The advance guard left during the night, by the light of a full moon. Napoléon and his main troup left Barrême early on the morning of the 4th for the 30 km trip to Digne. After lunching in Digne, he followed the Bléone river to the Durance, where he stopped for the night at the château de Malijai.
On the 5th, Napoléon marched north towards Sisteron, where a citadel guarded the narrow gap of the Durance. At l'Escale, he continued on up the east side of the river, through the village of Volonne. It turned out that Sisteron wasn't guarded: Napoléon hadn't been expected to make such good time, and the population didn't really care anyway. He stopped for lunch, and continued on to Gap where he arrived that night.
On the 6th of March, he went up over the Col Bayard at 1248 m, to Corps, 40 km north of Gap.
The following day, the 7th, he marched another 25 km to La Mure, where the famous confrontation with Laffrey occured. That evening, the Emperor made his grand entry into Grenoble.