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.



  • stephanie
    March 26, 2011 - 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting posts. Seems to me these people lived real fantasy lives, compared to how the rest were living.

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  • Jane Battle
    December 19, 2011 - 10:01 am | Permalink

    I am looking for an excellent comprehensive history (in English) of Malmaison. Your recommendation would be appreciated

  • mrodenberg
    December 25, 2011 - 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Hello, Jane,

    I have a very nice visitor’s guide by Bernard Chevallier, who is the general curator. I don’t know if that would be detailed enough for you, but perhaps an email to might get you some other suggestions. I’d also try Sandra Gulland’s website. She wrote popular novels about Josephine, and lists the following in her research bibliography: Hubert, Gérard. Malmaison. Trans. by C. de Chabannes. Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux; Paris; 1989.

    Let me know if you find anything particularly useful. The timeframes in my novel don’t cover the Malmaison years, but I’m always interested in good Napoleonic source material.

    Take care,

  • July 7, 2012 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    Hello Margaret,

    I am currently writing an article on Josephine and would love to use your photo above.

    Please email me when it’s convenient.

    Thank you so much!

    Warm regards,


  • mrodenberg
    July 10, 2012 - 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Norma,

    I just visited your website My Beautiful Paris. Lots of great info there! I’ll contact you directly about the photo you’d like to use. Thanks for stopping by!


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  • Albert Nelthropp
    April 12, 2015 - 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Josephine bought Malmaison while Napoléon was on campaign. It was in disrepair. When Napoléon returned from Egypt he wasn’t too impressed. Many mansions that had been abandoned by émigrés where bought up by the new upper bourgeoisie for a song. In any event, Napoléon as First Consul required a residence befitting his position and he sunk millions of francs into refurbishing it. According to many witnesses of the time, Napoléon and Josephine enjoyed their domestic life at Malmaison and I t was the site of many parties and get togeathers of Napoleon’s family, his brothers and sisters and his military family, Murat, Junto and others.

  • mrodenberg
    April 26, 2015 - 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Albert. I agree. To me, Malmaison has a real feeling of a lived-in home, where its owners and their friends and family could relax and enjoy one another’s company.

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