Built in 1622, La Malmaison was bought by the future empress Joséphine in 1799 as a love nest for Napoléon and herself, three years after their marriage. Theirs is one of Europe's most dramatic love stories, replete with affairs, scandal, and hatred—the emperor's family often disparaged Joséphine, a name bestowed on her by Napoléon (her real name was Rose), as "the Creole." After the childless Joséphine was divorced by the heir-hungry emperor in 1809, she retired
to La Malmaison and died here on May 29, 1814.
The château has 24 rooms furnished with exquisite tables, chairs, and sofas of the Napoleonic period; of special note are the library, game room, and dining room. The walls are adorned with works by artists of the day, such as Jacques-Louis David, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, and Baron Gérard. Take time to admire the clothes and hats that belonged to Napoléon and Joséphine, particularly the empress's gowns. Their carriage can be seen in one of the garden pavilions; another contains a unique collection of snuffboxes donated by Prince George of Greece. The gardens are delightful, especially when the regimented rows of tulips are blooming in spring.