French bureaucrats send letter to Napoleon

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Dan MacGuill - [email protected]
French bureaucrats send letter to Napoleon
How did France's national census agency end up sending a letter to Napoleon Bonaparte, despite his being dead for 192 years? Photos: Jean-Louis Zimmerman/Edouard Detaille

The agency behind France's census was left red-faced this week after sending out a letter to a French citizen who died almost 200 years ago. As if that wasn't bad enough, the recipient was none other than Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Click here to see for yourself.


Whatever you might think about France’s notorious bureaucrats, they are thorough, at least. But perhaps to a fault.

The national statistics agency recently went so far as to send out a letter (see below) to one French citizen who has been dead for almost 200 years – none other than Napoleon Bonaparte himself.

The letter was sent by INSEE, the organization responsible for demographics and statistics in France, including the annual census, on December 2nd, to 3 Rue Saint Charles, in the Corsican city of Ajaccio, according to local newspaper Corse Matin.

Despite being dead since 1821, the iconic former emperor of France appears not to have escaped the radar of the French bureaucracy.

The Napoleon museum on the site of the Little Corporal’s birthplace is two doors down, at 1 Rue Saint Charles, which might explain the address on the envelope.

It remains uncertain, however, why a French citizen who died 192 years ago ended up on INSEE’s books, and how one of the most famous names in French history went unnoticed before the letter was sent.

The current resident at 3 Rue Saint Charles at least, had a sense of humour about the whole affair. Before returning to sender, they gave the officials at INSEE details about where they might find the man they were after.

“Died in 1821 – please forward to Saint Peter,” they wrote on the envelope, as seen in the picture below.

For its part, INSEE told The Local on Wednesday that the letter was one sent out to thousands of newly-registered auto-entrepreneurs (sole proprietors), questioning them about their "creative processes."

A representative suggested that an unknown individual had, possibly as a joke, registered a small business under the name of Napoleon Bonaparte, online, and that the letter was automatically sent to them, as a result.

SEE ALSO: French taxman sends bill to dead man's grave



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