Not far from Paris, in the vicinity of the Preo forest, there is a small but charming palace of Malmaison (Malmaison). Translated from French, Malmaison (mal maison) means "Bad House". In the 10th century, the Normans, according to legend, brought property stolen from the inhabitants of cities and villages to the palace. Hence the sinister name.
History of the palace
The first mention of the "Bad House" dates back to 1244. But the names of its owners are found in records from the 1390s. The first known owner was Guillaume Goudet, who served in the army of Charles VI, and until 1763 Malmaison was owned by his descendants.
Its next owner was the son of Chancellor D'Areco, and in 1771 - the banker Jean-Jacques le Couteau du Molay. The first known reconstruction was carried out by du Molay: he slightly expanded the wings of the palace.
In 1799, Malmaison passed to its most famous owner, Josephine Bonaparte.
At that time Malmaison was a sad sight, the palace required immediate reconstruction. But under Josephine, he blossomed.
The architects who carried out the reconstruction of the palace brought the austerity of Bonaparte and the femininity of Josephine to its appearance. Mahogany furniture, silk curtains, birdcages, bouquets of flowers - all the details, even the smallest ones, spoke of the wealth of the owners.
The main residence of the emperor was in Fontainebleau, but Napoleon liked Malmaison more. Here he spent 4 years, they were a time of rest for him. In the palace, Bonaparte was not an emperor - he was a husband and a father.
Josephine dreamed of growing the most beautiful and amazing garden in all of Europe. She specially ordered the rarest plants from all over the world.
But the most celebrated was her rosary. The Empress collected more than 250 varieties of roses in it. To arrange the rose garden, she invited gardeners from England to her palace. Despite the war between the British and the French, gardeners delivered roses to Josephine by any means. In 1814, an exhibition of the rose garden was held, at that time it was the largest. Josephine herself bred a new variety, which was named after her.
The empress also paid attention to the animals. Kangaroos, black swans, zebras, seals and many other animals felt great in her garden.
The further fate of the palace
Soon Bonaparte divorced Josephine, but left Malmaison in her use. The empress received many guests, the last was Alexander I. In 1814 she died, leaving Malmaison to her son, but he hastened to sell him to the Queen of Spain. The last owner of royal blood was Napoleon III.
At the end of the 19th century, the palace was acquired by the historian Daniel Ifla. It was under him that Malmaison became a museum.
Since 1906, the palace has been officially considered a museum of the era of Napoleon Bonaparte. And although during the Second World War it housed barracks, Malmaison was practically not damaged. But some of Napoleon's personal belongings were destroyed.
Today, the museum houses the personal belongings of Napoleon and Josephine, portraits of the imperial family, Bonaparte's death mask and even a billiard table from that era.
Address: Avenue du Château de la Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison.
Phone: + 33 1 41 29 05 55.
Run time: 10: 00-17: 15.