After our walk down the Malmaison Rose Alley within La Roseraie du Val-de-Marne, we decided that Joséphine’s rose garden at Malmaison deserved a second visit.
The Château de Malmaison is the former home of Napoléon and Joséphine. Only 12 km from Paris, it is where Joséphine developed her garden thought to consist of about 250 species. She was an avid collector of all flora and fauna, not just roses.
When Joséphine died in 1814, the only record of her efforts was a pictorial one created by artist, Pierre-Joseph Redouté.
If not for Redouté’s engravings and the work of Jules Gravereaux at La Roseraie du Val-de-Marne in the late 19th century, little would be known about Joséphine’s roses at Malmaison.
Although Spring came early this year, we nevertheless managed to see some very healthy roses. The Malmaison rose garden is not on the same scale as La Roseraie du Val-de-Marne, nor is it as formal.
It is a typical English garden situated next to the Château. Entrance to the garden is free and, unlike the Château, does not close for lunch.
The spirit of Joséphine’s Malmaison is captured by Redouté in his book, Les Roses, published in three volumes between 1817 and 1824. Completed after Joséphine’s death, this book is one of the most beautiful and important books ever published on roses.
Many of the 170 roses illustrated by Redouté are still grown in gardens today. Although you may not recognise all the roses on display at Malmaison, you can now refer to Redouté’s Les Roses online to identify some of the older varieties.
Malmaison is not a place in which to hasten. The legacy of Napoléon and Joséphine linger here. Take your time and smell the roses.
Château de Malmaison
Avenue du Château de Malmaison 92500 Rueil-Malmaison
+33 1 41 29 05 55
Hours: 10:00 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 5:15 pm (longer closing hours weekends and summer)
From Paris: RER(A) train to La Défense and Bus 258 to Le Château