Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 12, Day 4: Le Chateau de (la) Malmaison

After our long and busy day yesterday, we stuck around Rueil today and took advantage of the opportunity to visit the castle that gave Rueil-Malmaison its present name: Le Chateau de Malmaison (aka le Chateau de la Malmaison; I have seen it both ways.), residence and final resting place of the Empress Joséphine, wife of Napoléon Bonaparte. Joséphine purchased the 17th-century castle in 1799, while her husband was away in Egypt. After he got home and was named First Consul, Bonaparte spent a lot of time there, and he and Joséphine expanded and improved the chateau. Joséphine loved roses and other exotic plants, flowers, and trees and filled the grounds with them. She also collected rocks and minerals (over 10,000 specimens if I remember correctly).

According to The Napoléon Series, the Bonapartes had a lopsided marriage in which they serially despised one another. They eventually divorced so that Bonaparte could remarry and father a male heir. (Joséphine had two children from a prior marriage, but by the time she married Bonaparte, she could no longer have children.) Joséphine continued to live at Malmaison after the divorce and is buried there; however, we did not see her tomb despite a pretty thorough tour of the grounds.

The chateau as seen from outside the main gate
Same view from inside

I took some photos on the ground floor before being told that flash cameras were not permitted:
I think this is called the Golden Room (Salon Doré).
Salle à manger (dining room)
Le Salon de Musique
La Salle du Conseil, where Bonaparte met with his council of ministers
the Library (note the beautifully painted ceiling)
 After the chateau closed for lunch, we walked around the grounds, which feature uncut "prairies" used to graze animals in Joséphine's time, unusual trees, an "English stream," a rose garden and more.
Irises, and the chateau on the left
Side view of the chateau
This might be the hothouse in the background.
The path we followed
An unmowed "prairie", with the chateau in the background

Christoforos and Bald Cypress
La rivière anglaise (the English stream)

The chateau seen from the rear
Ducks in muck
 After we had seen pretty much everything, we walked back to the center of Rueil, where we had a delicious lunch at the Crêperie Joséphine, 3 rue Jean le Coz, across from the main church. My galette had grated Emmental, mushrooms, and a fried egg. Yum!

L'église de Rueil
Tomorrow morning, we leave for Strasbourg and the wedding of Audrey and Thomas. Since I probably won't have access to a computer, you will have to wait for an update until we get back on Monday. Don't expect immediate results on Monday either--today's posts took several hours to complete. This weird French keyboard really slows me down!

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