On July 1st, 1803, during an inspection of the coastline, Bonaparte stopped
at Cap Gris-Nez, the place in France closest to England, that he wanted
to conquer. He wrote that he could see houses and movement. "It is a ditch
that will be straightforward when one has the audacity to attempt it", he
The unusual and huge commemorative monument, the column of the Grand Army, situated in the township of Wimille, was erected to Napoléon's glory by his soldiers, at the camp of Boulogne. At the top, at about fifty metres, the emperor's statue is in military dress.
The decision to raise a monument to Napoléon's glory was taken following the day of the distribution of the Légion d'honneur, August 16, 18O4.
One month after the ceremony, marshal Soult, who was the instigator, announced to the emperor the decision of the soldiers to erect, at their expense, a huge column made of marble dominated by their chief's statue. They would sacrifice one half-day of pay per month, one complete day for the officers. Eloi Labarre, architect of the second theatre of Boulogne, drew the plans. Napoléon's statue was entrusted to one of the greatest artists of the time, Jean - Antoine Houdon, Jean - Guillaume Moitte was assigned to execute the four lions as bas-reliefs at the pedestal.