While in Egypt, Bonaparte tried to keep a close eye on European affairs, relying largely on newspapers and dispatches that arrived only irregularly.
On 23 August 1799, he abruptly set sail for France, taking advantage of the temporary departure of British ships blockading French coastal ports, leaving his army under General Jean Baptiste Kléber.
Although the campaign was a military disaster, Napoleon exploited the French people's fascination with Egypt to his advantage and kept the campaign, and himself, in people's minds. Paris street vendors sold his pictures with palm trees, with pyramids, or with a general covered by plumes who harangues his troops and massacres the infidels. Paris theaters produced spectacles about the "Victory of the Pyramids." Paintings show him returning to France, grandly victorious, with a star of destiny shining upon his ship. By the time he returned to France in August 1799, he was famous.