Château de Malmaison

Rueil-Malmaison, France

Formerly the residence of Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais (along with the Tuileries), Château de Malmaison was the headquarters of the French government from 1800 to 1802, and Napoleon's last residence in France at the end of the Hundred Days in 1815.

Joséphine de Beauharnais bought the manor house in April 1799 for herself and her husband, General Napoléon Bonaparte, the future Napoléon I of France, at that time away fighting the Egyptian Campaign. Upon his return, Bonaparte expressed fury at Joséphine for purchasing such an expensive house with the money she had expected him to bring back from the Egyptian campaign. The house, for which she had paid well over 300,000 francs, needed extensive renovations, and she spent a fortune doing so.

Joséphine endeavored to transform the large estate into a beautiful garden. She located rare and exotic plants and animals to enhance the gardens. In 1800, Joséphine built a heated orangery large enough for 300 pineapple plants. Five years later, she ordered the building of a greenhouse, heated by a dozen coal-burning stoves. From 1803 until her death in 1814, Josephine cultivated nearly 200 new plants in France for the first time.

The property achieved enduring fame for its rose garden. Empress Joséphine had the Belgian artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840) record her roses (and lilies), and prints of these works sell quite well, even today. She created an extensive collection of roses, gathering plants from her native Martinique and from other places around the world. She grew some 250 varieties of roses.

After her divorce from Napoléon, Joséphine received Malmaison in her own right, along with a pension of 5 million francs a year, and remained there until her death in 1814. Napoléon returned and took residence in the house after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo (1815), before his exile to the island of Saint Helena.

In 1842 Malmaison was purchased by Maria Christina, widow of King Ferdinand VII of Spain; she lived there with her second husband Agustín Fernando Muñoz, 1st Duke of Riánsares. In 1861 Maria Christina sold the property to Napoleon III.

Malmaison was fully restored by the famous French architect Pierre Humbert in the early 20th century. It is now considered an important historical monument. Today the chateau houses as a Napoleonic Musée National.

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Founded: 18th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sherifa Al-Hashash (2 years ago)
A small chateau with beautiful gradens. It is Napoleon's palace with his wife Josephine. Audio guides are available there. Don't miss the extra rooms behind visitor's desk.
Julie O'Connor (2 years ago)
Lovely place to visit -- the country home of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte just outside Paris.
Keith Sheldon (3 years ago)
Wonderful tour of the Chateau. History and a beautiful setting.
Amy Muscat (3 years ago)
Great experience, beautiful scenery. Lovely place. Free on the first Sunday of each month.
Martin Magdalenski (3 years ago)
I went for the rose gardens. The history is better at the Hôtel Invalides. Sad to see the grass in a very brown state. Seems they rely on rainfall for the lawns. 2018 was a dry summer. The flowers and trees were watered but needed more watering. Beware of the shut down for lunch 1230-1330, there is not very much dining choice in short walking distance.
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