French Friday #10: Napo and Fifi say, “Make yourself at home!”

Look at this! Today is the tenth installment of French Friday! We should do something to celebrate. How about we take over the world. En avant!

(All photos by my family)

«La mort n'est rien, mais vivre vaincu et sans gloire, c'est mourir tous les jours.» "Death is nothing, but to live vainquished and ingloriously, is to die every day"

First, we need a headquarters. Choose somewhere that’s close to an established population center, maybe near – but not in – the former seat of government. After all, you want everybody to know that this is a new regime. Paris was officially the capital of France, but it had not been the seat of power since Louis XIV decided to take his toys and play somewhere else back in 1682. Versailles is beautiful, it’s true, but maybe not the best place to reestablish power after that nasty Revolution thing.  What about…

Driveway to Malmaison

The Château de Malmaison! Situated in the town of Rueil-Malmaison, it was built (and built and built) between 1610 and 1686, and came with a large domain. Good job, Josephine! You’ve got an eye for real estate! It’s a little bit of a fixer-upper, but we’ll have it looking great in no time. Hire a couple of fancy architects and a landscaper and voilà! your seat of power is ready. There’s going to be a lot of business to conduct, so let’s outfit this place with a suitable meeting room.

The Council Room

It has to look manly so what better decor than to mimic a military tent and then decorate the walls with friezes of helmets and weapons from glorious armies of the past. And also…

Madame la Mère

A portrait of your mom. Don’t worry, Josephine, you have your own portrait on the other side of the fireplace.

After a few intense rounds of Risk, we need some sustenance. Good thing this isn’t a real war tent. Instead of going to the mess hall, we can dine here:

Stucco paintings of Pomepeiian dancers decorate the walls of the dining room

I bet there were some good dinners served here. No mystery meat or unpalatable cafeteria gruel. And that table is like a mirror; that should promote good manners. After dinner, the gentlemen can retire to the billiards room.

This is my kind of room -- green everywhere!

And the ladies won’t be left out! There’s a lovely music room at the end of the hall decorated with Josephine’s favorite paintings, especially those of flowers, and a harp and harpsichord for your enjoyment.

Josephine received the harp as a gift.

After a long day of being the ruler of the known world, you’ll need a comfy place to retire for the night, but not too ostentatious.

The earliest known portrait of Napoleon hangs on the wall draped in Indian silk.

Josephine, you’ve got a nice little bed, too, also draped in silk. It’s a pretty good feeling to be so rich that you can just hang yards of silk from the walls.

This is the Empress' "ordinary" bedroom.

But, in the event that you are feeling ostentatious, you can always sleep in the other bedchamber.

Josephine had this room outfitted with its current decor after the divorce.

Once upon a time, Malmaison had a domain of 1,793 acres, but after changing hands a few times, the land was slowly broken off into private lots. Now there are only about 15 acres of land left around the château, but it’s still more than you’d want to mow by yourself.

Little stream that runs through the grounds at Malmaison, sadly, it is usually choked with leaves.

There’s lots more to see at Malmaison and entry is just 3€. Plus, you can also have a picnic in the Bois Préau, opposite Malmaison, and that’s free. If you ever go to Paris, take a day to visit the town of Rueil and the home of its most famous residents.

Back of the château looking out over the grounds towards Marly.

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