Le Chateau de Malmaison is located eight kilometers to the West from Paris, in the town of Rueil-Malmaison. It is most commonly known as the former residence of Napoleon I, the emperor of France from 1804 to 1814, and his wife Josephine de Beauharnais. Before going to Egypt in 1798, Napoleon I gave Josephine the task of finding a country house to her liking. Josephine was immediately charmed by Le Chateau de Malmaison and bought it in 1799, three years after their marriage.
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At first, it was an old house of the 17th century, but renovations by architects Percier and Fontaine (1800 to 1802) turned it into a luxurious castle with all the fashions of the 19th century.
Very fond of botanic, the Empress brought her personal touch in the garden of the castle, adding a number of various plants, statues and more.
After their divorce in 1809, due to the infertility of Josephine, Bonaparte allowed her to keep the title of Empress. She continued to live at the Chateau de Malmaison until her death. Still keeping close contact through letters and visits, this was also Napoleon’s last place of residence in France, before he was sent to exile in Elba Isle.
Here is the last letter Josephine sent to Napoleon after learning that he was to go to Elba Isle and that his second wife, Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, didn’t want to accompany him:
“Why can I not fly to you? I have been on the point of quitting France to follow you in your footsteps. …Say but the word and I depart. It is no longer but words that my sentiments for you are to be proved, and for actions your consent is necessary. Malmaison has been much respected, and I am surrounded by foreign sovereigns but would rather leave.”
Shortly after this letter, Josephine caught a cold which turned out to be fatal. On 29th May 1814, the Empress passed away at the age of 50 in the arms of her son Eugene.
Today, the Chateau de Malmaison is open 6 days of the week to the public as a museum. Once a year, in September, there is a dinner where people from the Napoleonic community have special access to the castle and come dressed in Regency clothes!
We went to the Chateau de Malmaison a few years ago, and it was truly beautiful. You really feel transported to the era when you visit these kinds of monuments. It’s almost as if you were there with Napoleon and Josephine. It was a rainy day when we went but the garden was still amazing. A wonderful place for a walk, even when you have to keep your eyes on the ground to watch out for puddles!
HOW TO REACH CHATEAU DE MALMAISON
Le Chateau de Malmaison is in Rueil Malmaison. From la Défense (métro, RER, SNCF, bus) take bus 258, stop “Le Chateau” (25 minutes). Cross the RN13 road and go back to the roundabout. The castle is at 300m, on the right.
The Château opens every day except Tuesdays. Tickets cost 6,50€ (adults). Free every first Sunday of the month.
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