Why is our bed and breakfast named Napoleon's Retreat? Great question... and one that I didn't know the answer to until after we purchased Napoleon's Retreat! Shortly after we moved to Lafayette Square, I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Bennett, one of our new neighbors. Larry and his husband Garth first opened the doors of 1815 Lafayette Avenue to B&B guests over 25 years ago. One night over dinner, Larry asked Garth what they should name their new bed and breakfast. Without missing a beat, Garth (a history buff), said, "Well, Napoleon retreated from Waterloo in 1815. It should be Napoleon's Retreat."
Thus, 1815 Lafayette Avenue became known as Napoleon's Retreat. When Brian and I bought the bed and breakfast in 2011, we had no desire to change the name. It fits with the French history of Lafayette Square, and provides the inn with a "mascot" of sorts. Napoleonic items are scattered throughout our bed and breakfast. There are numerous busts, prints, and paintings of Napoleon. Many of the items are gifts from Larry. We've added our own touches to the inn, too. A portrait of Josephine's now hangs beside the majestic painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps, and Josephine serenely smiles at guests from the top of the staircase.
Our guests often ask why we have bees on our coffee mugs, water glasses, and plates. Napoleon's personal symbol was the bee. It was part of his coat of arms. The cloak Napoleon wore when he was crowned emperor was embroidered with bees, as was the gown Josephine wore to the coronation. Only favored members of Napoleon's court were permitted to wear his bee symbol on their person. Bees were all the rage during Napoleon's reign. I've never really collected anything before, but I now find myself looking for unique items embellished with Napoleon's bee.
Our future blog posts will be used to notify guests of happenings in St. Louis, share recipes, and provide updates about our inn. We'll post again soon!