Chateau de Malmaison
Chateau de Malmaison was Josephine de Beauharnais’ residence, located 12 km west of Paris in the city of Rueil-Malmaison. The estate spans about 150 acres that encompass the country house, gardens, meadows, and woods.
Josephine de Beauharnais, who became Napoleon Bonarparte’s first wife, purchased Chateau de Malmaison on April 29, 1788 while Napoleon was fighting in Egypt. This estate was run-down so Josephine hired two architects, Percier and Fontaine, to renovate the mansion extensively. Napoleon also led France as First Council from this residence, thus turning this country house from a calm environment to a lively place. During Napoleon’s reign of the empire, Josephine constantly sought for rare flowers, plants, and exotic animals to embellish Chateau de Malmaison, determining to transform the estate into "a model of good cultivation." She also built an orangery in 1800, then a green house 5 years later. From 1803 to 1814, Josephine already cultivated approximately 200 new plants in France. Chateau de Malmaison gained fame for its rose garden since Josephine had collected various roses from all over the world and grew about 250 different types of them. Her fondness for roses also reflected on having a Belgian artist, Pierre-Joseph Redoute, record her roses.
After her divorce in 1809, Josephine permanently relocated to Chateau de Malmaison in 1809. She then hired Berthault to redecorate part of the apartment. After Josephine’s death in 1814, her son from her first marriage with Alexandre de Beauharnais, Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, inherited the estate. However, he was unable to maintain the property and the place was sold by his widow in 1828. After several owners, Daniel Iffla bought Chateau de Malmaison and hired Pierre Humbert to restore it before donating it to France. It was opened to public since 1906.
It was cloudy and later even started to rain on the day I visited. This is the apartment of Chateau de Malmaison. There should have been many flowers along the courtyard, but it’s autumn and most plants were not blooming at this time, it looked a bit lackluster now.
The garden. The roses should have been bloomed here but it’s not the right season now.
The building in front of the garden was formerly stables that still retained some of their stalls and feeding-troughs.
The backyard includes meadows and woods. The foliages were turning yellow and red during this time to create a nostalgic atmosphere in the backyard.
It seemed there was a small creek in the backyard but it’s completely dry now.
The back of the apartment.
Even the back of the apartment was decorated with statues and plants.
Inside the apartment on the ground floor, this is the dining area.
This is the council chamber, which is in the shape of a military tent. The stools are from the original furniture.
Napoleon’s library that contained 4,500 books. Egyptian-inspired design was used in decorating the room.
On the first floor, a bedroom with striped silk hangings.
Jacques-Louis David’s "Bonaparte Crossing of the Alps." This portrait was to flatter and glorify Napoleon Bonaparte that was ordered by king of Spain as a gift for Napoleon.
Josephine’s room, which is oval and in the shape of a red and gold tent
It seems that Chateau de Malmaison does not often appear in travel guids. I’ve read it from a book that includes castles in Europe and decided to visit it this time. As opposed to some popular and big-fame castles like Versailles and Chambord, Chateau de Malmaison is rather petit and simple. However, it is also its simple-ness that bestows Chateau de Malmaison the refreshing elegance. To make the visit even better, it is free on first Sunday of the month. (I luckily caught this date on time. )
Enghien-les-Bains is a wealthy town 13.5 km north of Paris. It is a spa resort developed during 19th century. There’s a casino near the scenic lake of Enghien, which is the only casino in Paris vicinity.
The reason I wanted to visit Enghien-les-Bains is mainly because of the Arsene Lupin story–Le Bouchon de cristal (The Crystal Stopper). In the story, deputy Daubrecq and a villa in Enghien and it was also where the whole story unfolded. (I seemed to have this enthusiasm to check the locations I’ve read in novels and visit them to compare against the impression I got from the books. )
This is the casino on the lakeside of Enghien blazing with lights at night. The casino was inaugurated in 1878. It’s actually unusual to have a casino that’s so close to the residential area. However, there were not many people around this casino. In fact, it was actually pretty quiet over there. I’m not sure if it’s the usual phenomenon or just not the high season for crowds to go to Enghien-les-Bain that time.
Lake of Enghien. Rich communities and mansions have been built around it. The outdoor-bar of the casino extends its balcony to the lake.
A community that’s not far away from the lake and the casino.
A park in front of an apartment building.
This is the recreational building and restaurant of the 4-star "The Grand Hotel Barriere."
I did not walk around for too long and far in Enghien-les-Bains mainly because it was getting late and raining harder at night.
However, from its official website, Enghien-les-Bains has several interesting activities such horse racing, and the town center has a lively shopping center that comprises over 300 shops.
It seemed that the sky turned dark in a whim during autumn. I went to Enghien-les-Bains while it was still light, but when I arrived, it was totally dark… and it even didn’t take that much time from the train station in Paris to Enghien-les-Bains…maybe 10 or 15 minutes?