Dispatches from the city of lights
Desiree- a novel about Napoleon's mistress, and how my mother named me (!) by Annemarie Selinko
Good for you for packing all that food! Due to an air traffic controller strike we once arrived unexpectedly in Barcelona. My biggest regret? NOT EATING MORE TAPAS
The only book I have on Napoleon is The Age of Napoleon by Will and Ariel Durant. But I mention it because it, in my opinion, is worth pursuing. And consuming it is a pursuit! Cheers!
The Black Count by Tom Reiss is about Dumas Grandpere- slave, count, general,etc. - under everything from the Sun King to the Terror to Napoleon. Hell of a life, hell of a read.
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, more about the Napoleonic wars really, and there's a lot of chicken
I finally read War & Peace during lockdown when Professor Anna Barker ran a Facebook group called “100 Days of War and Peace.” It’s a no-pressure read-through with chapter assignments and tons of context provided. The group is still there and can be joined and all the materials read, if you think that would be of benefit. I loved it. We then read a bunch of other novels that also somehow keyed off the Napoleonic Wars. Fascinating stuff.
Soutine! One of my greatest vacations was the time (1998) NYC's Jewish Museum had almost all the Soutine's all visiting each other at once! Does the Jewish Museum in Paris have Soutines? Please say Yes! They must! (also, yes, I agree, do read Desiree and The Passion, and my kid always says read W&P.)
Not exactly about Napoleon but I enjoyed Rites of Peace by Adam Zamoyski about the Vienna Congress
Of the biographies, I enjoyed Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts. Occasionally when I fall down a rabbit hole of a person/era, I like a good digestif (see how I snuck that French in?) of lighter fare but set in the same melieu. On that note, I recommend The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig.
A little-known but very interesting book is Private Memoirs Of The Court Of Napoleon by Louis François Joseph Bausset-Roquefort. A very different perspective from a close insider.
If you like podcasts and want to get into the Napoleonic Wars don't miss "The Age of Napoleon". I started listening to it in a whim last year and now I'm totally obsessed with that era. It's my favorite podcast of all time
Best vacation: We were Americans living in Japan, with three young children, took our summer vacation at a Minshuku (民宿) - Japanese-style bed and breakfasts that are family-run and located in rural areas. They are similar to ryokan, but are more budget friendly. We chose the seashore, and the local fisher people would take nets out in the morning and whatever they hauled back is what we were served. Rice and fish for breakfast. Yum! And for lunch and for dinner. The kids played in the water and we all relaxed with no dishes to do or work or laundry.
The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme was one of the best things we saw in summer 2019. I'd been to Paris a few times and been to many wonderful museums, but that museum just did as you said - brought home, hard and clear, how long the history of Judaism was in Europe, and also how much damage the N*zis did. There's a sukkah from Austria that made me sob in anger and sadness. But also persistence. (And also also, not just the N*zis but pogroms etc., on and on.) A superb museum if you're in or near the Marais (and on a practical matter, since both are small, one can also do it in the same day with the Picasso Museum).
I don't have anything deep or serious about Napoleon. My kids passed the Bloody Jack YA series onto me years ago and in one of the books, Jacky meets up with Napoleon when she's disguised as a French cavalry officer and wins a medal from him. I remember really loving the series - as did younger daughter.