“Monsieur Napoleon”, the costumed character known throughout Cergy-Pontoise, has given up his arms

“Monsieur Napoleon”, the costumed character known throughout Cergy-Pontoise, has given up his arms
“Monsieur Napoleon”, the costumed character known throughout Cergy-Pontoise, has given up his arms

“The ceremony for Monsieur Napoleon is Thursday. » When we call, Monday June 17, the Saint-Louis nursing home, the retirement home of the Pontoise hospital where he spent his last years, to find out the date of the funeral of Bernard Blanquet, the nickname under which all of Cergy -Pontoise knows it as obvious. The announcement of his death at the age of 68, last Wednesday, sparked several hundred comments on the social networks of several municipalities in Cergy-Pontoise. From Auvers-sur-Oise to Cergy via Pontoise and Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, “Monsieur Napoléon” was known to everyone.

“An emblematic figure of our childhood”, testify many Internet users. “All the children of the 1970s, 80s and more knew him,” summarizes Annick. “An adorable gentleman who said to me: I am Henri Bouldingue to make me laugh when I was young,” agrees Valou. “A colorful gentleman, with a huge smile and he was a history book,” adds Évelyne.

A “whimsical and very kind character”

For more than forty years, Bernard Blanquet has walked the streets of the city in his hand-sewn period costumes. A “whimsical and very kind character”, underlines Nicole. “He was surprising, he was funny! Passionate, invested in History, remembers Vincent. I seemed to understand that he collected toy soldiers too… He will be missed in the landscape of Pontoise. » Marc also remembers a “gentleman with an impressive culture”. “A luminous being, a gentleman with women and a real history book,” confirms David, who had “a great pleasure speaking with him on my bus.”

Because Monsieur Napoléon was an unconditional fan of the urban network. It was not uncommon for him to “play” controller, to amuse the gallery. “He was so popular with the drivers that I asked him if I could photograph him for our group where we exchange photos of our favorite users,” remembers David, who saw him “very often on line 35, ex 34-North”. “He did it with a good heart, posing with a smile,” adds the one who agreed to send this photo to Le Parisien.

On the quays, in Pontoise as in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, he also happened to circulate in his uniform from the Civil War or as a soldier from the war of 1870, led by… Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, who became Napoleon III. “Some people thought he was crazy but he was just an original who embraced his passion,” assure those who took the time to chat with him.

Period costumes that he made himself

Costumes he made himself. Legend has it that “his parents were costume designers at the Comédie Française”. Reality is more complex. “We were placed in public assistance at a very young age,” confides his sister, Hélène, two years his junior. At the beginning we were in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône with the same nanny, as host families were called at the time. We never saw Dad and I never knew Mom had a job. »

Hélène doesn’t know where her big brother got his passions from, but she clearly remembers “the northerners, the southerners and the battles” who were a little intrusive in conversations, like in Bernard’s apartment. “Her greatest passion was model trains,” she assures. In his studio in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, they were everywhere. So much so that he didn’t know where to put them. »

He almost died in a fire

Some of his treasures went up in smoke in the fire in the Cité Blanche-de-Castille building in 2006. Bernard, who “had his heart on his sleeve” according to his neighbors at the time , had hosted a homeless person. But when he realized that he had stolen it, he threw him out. The homeless man then started a fire on the landing, which quickly reached the door of Bernard’s apartment, before setting the entire roof ablaze and destroying the fourth and last floor, requiring the rehousing of 59 families. The firefighters had to evacuate Napoleon by the large ladder. Even back then, his neighbors praised his kindness and generosity. “He had made a castle for my children, to scale and with many details done to perfection. »

“A real artist, in several fields,” assures a former employee of the retirement home where he lived “since a stroke” according to his sister who also knew he had a passion for train models. “I’ve been meeting him for so many years… I thought he was invincible! A hell of a character who is leaving us,” says Patricia. “May he rest in peace in his costume that he loved so much,” concludes Nicole.

Burial at 2:15 p.m. in the mortuary room of Pontoise hospital, ceremony at 3:30 p.m. at Pontoise cemetery.

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