Napoleon was not a French national hero, he was a French national catastrophe.
Over a million French people died and millions more in France suffered because of Napoleon's insanity and irresistible thirst for power, conquest destruction and death. It is estimated that around 6.5 million people died in Europe and in Russia during Napoleon's reign. In today's term that would be equal to tens of millions of people. However In 2010 an opinion poll in France asked who was the most important man in French history. Napoleon came second, behind General Charles de Gaulle, who led France from exile during the German occupation in World War II and served as a postwar president. And even though he is not officially commemorated in France and around the world, many people both in France and worldwide see him as a French national hero It's true that not all of France's wars during the Napoleonic age could be blamed on Napoleon. When he assumed dictatorial power and later became the French emperor, France was already embroiled with conflicts with half of Europe, which perceived revolutionary France as a threat and sought to destroy it, and all he did was to try to end them with a decisive victory for France. The problem starts with all the unnecessary conflicts he dragged France and the of the rest of Europe into. Like in the disastrous occupation of Spain, his insane and pointless Egyptian campaign, or how in Tahiti Napoleon was responsible for slaughtering more than 100,000 Caribbean slaves who revolted against France. But above all stands the truly mind blowing crazy and pointless invasion of Russia in 1812, which ultimately resulted in the French capitulation to Russia and its allies and to Napoleon's exile. Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 with an international force of almost 700,000 soldiers, most of whom were not French but came from all over Europe, caused untold death and destruction to Russians and to his own army, all for nothing. Most of his army never even made it back, only a tiny part of the Grande Armee survived the retreat from Russia, not that Napoleon cared much seeing how he was riding in the front, in a plush carriage, oblivious to the hell that he inflicted on the rest of his soldiers. By the time he was shown the door, France was isolated, beaten, occupied, dominated, hated and smaller than before. What’s more, Napoleon smothered the forces of emancipation awakened by the French and American revolutions all over Europe and enabled the survival and restoration of monarchies. Some of the legacies with which Napoleon is credited, including the Civil Code, the comprehensive legal system replacing a hodgepodge of feudal laws, were proposed during the French revolution, and he merley adopted them, only to betray them later whenever it suited him. In the final analysis, Napoleon wasn't better than those absolutist autocrats he fought against, in fact he was actually worse. Why? Because he fooled millions, and still does, that he was going to change things and bring "freedom" to Europe, so many, not just in France but all throught Europe, belived him and joined his cause and helped him conquer Europe, and invade Russia. However, he never ever meant to implement any of his "enlightened" promises, and all he ever really wanted to do, as history proved, was to rule as a despotic absolutist monarch. Napoleon proved to be as big a catastrophe for France, as Hitler was to Germany, but unlike Hitler, Napoleon is still celebrated and venerated in France and everywhere else as a French national hero.