Friday, June 30, 2017

Chateau de Malmaison tour

While in Paris we visited a spectacular chateau known primarily as the home to Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte, the Chateau de Malmaison.
Josephine purchased the dilapidated country estate in 1799 while Napoleon was at war in Egypt and undertook a major renovation to bring the chateau up to date and to the style of the day. From 1800 until 1802 this was the new Versailles, the seat of French power, as Napoleon and his bride ruled from the newly renovated chateau.
This was really Josephine's home and she lavished all her attention (and most of Napoleon's money) on the chateau and gardens. After their divorce (as she was unable to have children) she kept the house with a large pension and after her death in 1814 Napoleon returned to Malmaison for one last visit before being exiled in 1815. Talk about love stories!
Malmaison is mostly known for its gardens, particularly roses which were JUST past their peak on my visit (June 6).
The naturalistic gardens feature hundreds of varieties of roses along with other more English style plantings. This is right up my alley: the gravel paths, manicured lawn, and blowzy country gardens.
 There is even a summer pavilion out in the garden so one doesn't have to go inside the house-lovely little room!
 Here is the Malmaison signature rose.
The property was once much larger and incorporated a lot of outbuildings but today the chateau just retains a few of these such as the summerhouse, gatehouses, and stables.
The front of the chateau and courtyard would have been used for entry and service functions so the back was the real 'front facade' and it's a beauty.
A quick google search will show you paintings and drawings of numerous lawn parties with the chateau as a backdrop.
The building has been renovated many times over the centuries with the first knowledge of the house being from the 14th century! Most of what we see today dates from the tenure of Josephine.
The "moat" may have originally guarded the structure while later provided great space for servants around the kitchens and service rooms without being seen.
But lets go inside, shall we?
The billiards room just off the entry foyer features a black and white marble floor with vivid green walls.
 Off the billiards room is the salon dore  - a formal sitting room; Loved the painted doors.
Some of the original furniture has been brought back to the house and this room features 2 different sets of chairs.
Here is the other set of chairs in graceful empire style.  I would gladly take these home as a souvenir!
One would expect a gilded chandelier in a golden salon, right?
The music room is at the end of the house so features French doors on all 3 sides making a lovely light space. The house is essentially lanterne style so that it is only one room deep on the ground floor, giving each primary room 2 exposures.
Loved the snazzy upholstery details in the music room!
The dining room is perhaps the most beautiful room in the house.  In order to provide room for tours though the table has been moved off center. My OCD cannot handle this.....
 Loved the paint details in the dining room.
The small treaty room off the dining room is smaller and lacks the double exposure but makes up for it with lots of style!
This is probably the most famous room in the chateau, providing inspiration for countless other striped fabric tented rooms.
 At the opposite end of the chateau is the library, the literal bookend to the music room (get it? haha).
Loved the empire built-in bookcases with curtained lower shelves. Notice the shelves are slightly curved, the glass too.
 This mystery firebox under a window lacks a chimney.  That is certainly a mystery.....
 Don't forget to look up; the ceiling in the library is amazing.
A bust of Napoleon sits in the center of the simple stairwell.  The house is filled to the brim with paintings of Napoleon and Josephine, many familiar to us all.
I had to include this snapshot of Napoleon's bath..... maybe indoor plumbing is overrated? It can never be this chic.
The details throughout are very lovely or at least very much to my taste. 2 small rooms were combined off Napoleon's bedroom to house this suite of furniture and artwork.
Napoleon's bedroom does not disappoint; Canopied bed, draped walls, this room has everything I love about the Empire style rolled into one space.
More bedrooms in the center of the house were combined to create exhibit spaces for the most stupendous display of lovely items belonging to the couple.  I wish this were a shop instead of a museum; one of everything please!
 This suite of dressing furniture featuring white swans is pretty over the top; have you seen anything like it?
Josephine's bedroom also did not disappoint; it made Napoleon's bedroom look humdrum! However, much like former royalty these were only 'official' bedrooms and not where Josephine actually slept.
Off the official bedroom was this lovely little boudoir. Much cozier and less.....Grand horizontal or that a word?
I highly suggest a daytrip to Reuil-Malmaison just outside of Paris; same distance from the city as Versailles (which is actually nearby).  While it was accessible by train and bus I highly recommend taking an Uber to save yourself time and for not much more expense (I think the fare for 4 of us was only $37). Information on visiting the chateau can be found on their website HERE.