Malmaison, the country mansion Josephine chose while Napoleon was on his Egypt campaign, provides my first glimpse into a personal residence. The couple lived here and in the Tuileries Palace in Paris from 1800 to 1802, while Napoleon was First Consul, his stepping stone to absolute French ruler. After their divorce, Josephine retired to Malmaison, cultivated roses in its gardens, and ultimately died here in 1814.
If I were looking for Josephine rather than Napoleon, this is where I would search. Primarily a social creature, her grace and style are evident throughout the house. I can envision her playing the harp in the lovely music room and entertaining lively guests in the light and airy dining room.
Napoleon himself may be found in the chamber where he directed his ministers and generals. Like his rooms in Fontainebleau, this is draped in a military-tent style, but with a flair Josephine probably injected. Again, his sleeping quarters are small in comparison to Josephine’s lush bedroom. Unfortunately, the original furnishings have been lost. Malmaison also contains a small museum and art work which I will discuss in a later post.