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“Beautiful and yet Bitter Sweet”

Chateau de Malmaison
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Reviewed May 31, 2012

Having read so much about Napolean and his family whilst on holiday South East of Paris, the possibility of visiting Malmaison seemed too good to miss. However beware- driving there is a real challenge around the Paris suburbs. It is certainly not for the faint hearted.
However on arrival the area is so quiet and relaxing the stress on driving there soon leaves you.
The tragedy is that the Chateau is so beautiful, so friendly and undertstated and so interesting and yet when you come away you feel like so much more could be achieved there given some money and attention. With Versailles not far away its almost like the french have decided that the Royalists are a much better money spinner than the Republicans and have therefore almost abandoned the Bonaparte family.
The house itself is very very interesting for any student of Napololean and his family. There are many original artifacts which transport you back to Napoleans earlier campaigns in Italy and Egypt. I would have loved to have met Josephine as she comes across as such a lovely warm sunny creature. Her gardens show so much promise but are woefully neglected. Unless you are a keen history student or are not far from the area and fancy an interesting afternoon escape from the rigours of Paris then I would say that this is not the place for you. Having said that I loved spending an afternoon there and felt deeply the tragedy of neglect due to lack of funding for such a lovely historical spot.

8  Thank McCreery-Morbach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 24, 2012

I really went to Malmaison for the roses. If you're going for that reason, think again. The gardens are not really maintained as others have noted. Nor do they specialise in roses of the period. The gardens behind the Chateau are charming and overgrown and contain a number of historic trees. They are a pleasant antidote to the manicured parks of Paris. The Chateau is the real gem although I'd have to say that a number of the rooms have been less than well restored. Others are spectacular examples of neo-classical style. Contrary to another comment, the staff were pleasant and helpful. Guidebooks are confusing because while they rightly advise that the Chateau is closed for lunch, the garden is open throughout the day. We followed the Insight Guide's advice on how to get there from La Defence. Finding the bus proved an interesting challenge but we made it. You only need to set aside half a day for the Chateau and garden if you leave Paris early enough. It will take you about 1.5 hours to get there by public transport.

6  Thank rbkr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 22, 2012

We wanted to visit the Chateau Malmaison in Paris - Napoleon and Josephine's place. We travelled 35 minutes from Paris/Defence with the bus 259, we have crossed very nice small towns. When we arrived on a Sunday at 12:15 - the castle was closed because there was lunchtime!!! So they told us to come back at 13:30, but there was no anything on the internet or even in the castle about this closing time.
We turned back and finally at the corner found a nice bistro where we had beautiful lunch with excellent wine!
The dessert (creme brulée) was delicious!
So we spent the "closing time" there and right after we found the castle and the walking in the garden much better.

5  Thank penny p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2012

It contains the history of the relationship between Josephine and Napoleon. The house is decorated in the empire style, probably pretty much as it would have been when they lived there.

1  Thank Mittenwald
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2012

Having visited Chateau Fontainbleu, I was interested in viewing Napoleon's country home with first wife, Josephine, where he was reputed to be very happy. The contrast between the formal splendor of Fontainbleu and the casual country charm of MalMaison is remarkable. But poor Josephine would be appalled at the state of her beloved rose garden, the shabby state of the gardens in general, and the rudeness of the blond in the gift shop who sells the tickets. After several problems with reaching Malmaison, I had only 2 hours to visit the chateau and grounds (according to their own website hours), however the officious woman at the gift shop who sells the tickets informed me I had only 1 hour to tour the chateau. When I reached the entrance across the park, and asked for the audiotour, the kindly security guard told me they were given out by the woman in the gift shop. So, back I trudged across the park to ask for the audio tour. With wallet in hand I enquired how much more for the audio guide, only to be told it was free with the entry ticket - she had just decided I didn't have enough time to listen to the guide so chose not to give one to me! After posting my ID for security, I was with great reluctance given the audioguide, but this woman who claimed to understand only French (but had no problem with English when she wished to express a point). Needless to say there was no problem completing the tour, with audio within the time allotted and I was out of the chateau well before other visitors. Madame insisted the website was wrong - and the hours showing open until 5:45PM after April 1st was the problem of the national monuments organization. Seemed to me she was just lazy and wanted to go home early. I also didn't appreciate the young guard who entered the dining room to turn off the chandelier while I was standing there at 4:15PM. If I were the French National organization that manages this historic property, I would do a serious review of the staff and make some changes as the current staff seems very put out at being disturbed by visitors who come to visit!

9  Thank Sharlene T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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