Napoleon in Russia Tour

Napoleon in Russia Tour

The 1812 Campaign


Napoleon in Russia Tour

The 1812 Campaign


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Tour Introduction

This tour provides a rare opportunity to explore traditional Russia. From its smaller provincial towns and vast countryside landscape to its mighty capital you can discover the diversities of this enigmatic country. Your journey will highlight the vast distances that Napoleon and his weary army had to traverse to finally reach Moscow, to then just turn around and retrace their steps. Staying in Moscow means you can see the evolution of Russia’s modern history for yourselves, from its imperial glamour, to its Soviet severity and modern day incarnation. The beauty of this trip is in the fact you get to immerse yourself in a country and culture that few have had the opportunity to visit, as well as stand on some of the well-preserved battlefields from two wars that helped shape the nation you visit today.


In June 1812, Napoleon crossed the River Niemen into Russia with nearly 400,000 men in the hope of destroying the Russian Army in a lightning campaign. Instead he found an obstinate enemy steadily falling back and drawing him into their vast limitless country. After the bloody stalemate of Borodino, Napoleon occupied Moscow to no avail and in October deluded himself that he could withdraw into winter quarters beyond Smolensk. Instead the French experienced one of the most disastrous retreats ever endured by an army. The bitter cold, starvation and the relentless pursuit and harassment by the Russians resulted in fewer than 10,000 men re-crossing the Niemen some six months later. Between them both sides lost over half a million men, or one man every five minutes! However these figures pale when compared to the casualties incurred during the fighting from 1941 – 1943 and, although this tour is predominantly focused on the campaign of 1812, we cannot avoid weaving the story of the Great Patriotic War into our tour.


  • Guided by TCE Director Alan Rooney
  • Opportunity to explore traditional Russia
  • Immerse yourself in the country and the culture
  • Fully guided tours of Moscow, Smolensk & Borodino
  • Magnificent re-enactments


Day 1 – Fly to Moscow. Check-in to our hotel for two nights. Introductory talk.

Day 2 – Moscow. We enjoy a guided tour of the Kremlin fortress complex including the armoury chamber, the treasury, captured French artillery and cathedral square. There will be time to wander around Red Square and perhaps visit St Basil’s Cathedral.

Day 3 – Viazma. Depart Moscow and drive to Smolensk. En-route we will consider sites associated with both the French advance to and retreat from Moscow such as Miloradovich’s manoeuvre at Viazma and Tsarevo, Barclay de Tolly’s final defensive position and from where Kutusov took over command. Check-in to our hotel for three nights.

Day 4 – Smolensk & Krasnoi. We take a walking tour of Smolensk gaining great views from its citadel, admire its 17th century walls, visit the stunning cathedral and, from its esplanade, relate the events of August 1812. This afternoon we drive out towards the Belorussian border to traverse the field of Krasnoi where, in November 1812, Napoleon drove off the Russian advance guard and Marshal Ney sacrificed his corps in a desperate rear-guard action.

Day 5 – Katyn & Valutino. This morning we switch our attentions to WW2 and the city’s Great Patriotic War museum followed by a visit to the emotional memorial complex in Katyn Forest where the Russian NKVD executed around 22,000 Polish officers in 1941. Thence to the battlefield of Valutino/Lubino to discuss the final failed opportunity for the French to bring the Russians to account.

Day 6 – Borodino. An early start allows us to spend all day at Borodino on its 205th anniversary visiting, amongst others, its fascinating museum, the Utitza Mound, the Bagration fleches and the Shevadino and Raevsky redoubts. Continue to Moscow and check-in to our hotel for four nights.

Day 7 – Moscow 1812. From ‘Sparrow Heights’ we, like Napoleon, enjoy a superb vista of Moscow. On the aptly named Kutusovsky Prospect we visit the wonderful 360° panorama of Borodino with its museum. This afternoon we visit the wonderful State Historical Museum with its dedicated displays on the war of 1812.

Day 8 – Winkovo & Malajaroslavets. Visit Kutusov’s preserved army camp at Winkovo with its own museum and monument, we trace the Russian surprise attack on Murat. At Malojaroslavets we enjoy the dedicated battle museum, its diorama and monument and, from the mound below the monastery, we gain a superb view of the French advance and subsequent positions.

Day 9 – Re-enactment. Nobody puts on a re-enactment like the Russians. Beside the banks of the Kolocha river we will enjoy thousands of splendidly uniformed re-enactors encouraged by their Muscovite supporters. Particularly splendid will the Preobrazhansky Guard who nearly always turn up in numbers to demonstrate manoeuvres in line, column and square.

Day 10 – Fly Home. A late start from our hotel to catch our mid-afternoon return flight.

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