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A little history of La Malmaison castle

The castle | Moonik / CC-BY-SA
Castle Napoleon I Joséphine de Beauharnais La Malmaison castle

Joséphine! Marie-Josèphe Tasher de La Pagerie was born in La Martinique. Alexandre de Beauharnais' widow (he was guillotined during the Revolution), she married the dashing Bonaparte in 1796: she became empress of France!

Yes, but not for long... Napoleon asked for a divorce in 1809. Why? She didn't give him an heir, of course! The scene took place in La Malmaison...

Malmaison, malus mansio in Latin, was a barn belonging to the church of Rueil in 1244. Meanwhile, councillor in Paris Parliament Perrot owned it and transformed it into a nice little castle, later sold by banker Lecoulteux during the Revolution: Joséphine visited the estate many times, and literally... fell in love with it!

She finally owned it in 1800. She called architects Percier and Fontaine and the building site began. They designed the Louvre's façade overlooking the rue de Rivoli and the Carrousel arc de triomphe...

Our empress refit out and refurnished the small rooms: Jacob made Empire furniture, painters Girodet and Gérard made paintings.

All these works cost a mere 600 000 francs! A big, big sum, but Napoleon paid it without making a fuss.

Aaah, he would do the impossible for his darling... Because Joséphine ran into debts, but our Napoleon was always here to pay! Joséphine then called landscaper Morel to lay out gardens. Yes, the estate extended a lot!

We had 260 hectares of woods with cows, swans, ducks and deers. Joséphine recreated here in Malmaison a little paradise on earth: even Napoleon came here to rest! Some nice memories...

Because after the divorce, Joséphine was all alone in her castle, and she became melancholic... She lived here with her children and grandchildren. And she died here on May 29th 1814...

Then? Well, Malmaison fell to Eugène de Beauharnais, by marriage. But it was the banker Osiris who completely restored the estate and gave it to the French Nation, who opened a museum in 1906.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!