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Josephine de Beauharnais was the first wife of General Napoleon Bonaparte, before he became Emperor of France. They married in 1796, and she bought the Château de Malmaison in 1799. They divorced in 1810 and Josephine continued to live in the Château de Malmaison in the commune Rueil-Malmaison, a western suburb of Paris, until her death in 1814.

Only 12 kilometres (7 miles) from the centre of Paris, Château de Malmaison was 150 acres of woods and meadows. Both the castle and the garden needed renovations. Josephine’s intention was to transform the land into ‘the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation.’ 

In 1800, she built a heated orangery, which included 300 pineapple plants. In 1805, she built a greenhouse, where she cultivated nearly 200 new plants in France for the first time. But it was most famous for its rose garden and its 250 varieties. Even today, Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s prints of Josephine’s roses still sell well. 

Her daughter Hortense called the Château de Malmaison ‘a delicious spot.’

The Château is open to the public, with the garden maintained with an extensive array of flowers. 

Photographed in the Château de Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison, France, September 2022.

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

MARTINA NICOLLS – MartinaNicollsWebsite

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