If you had a ‘Bone(a)’ to pick with me, ‘apart(e)’ from my wordplay, one might wonder how “France” and “history” have been topics throughout this trip yet Napoleon Bonaparte merits no mention save a day-5 statue in Rouen.
On day six, his house is ours to visit. This is not the Palace of Versailles that was residence to kings since 1682, over 100 years before he made himself Emperor of the French people (1804). It is a generously landed estate and not a bad house, as the name “Malmaison” might literally imply.
This was a fixer-upper when lady J found it. The rooms vary in size, color, texture, resplendence of art, and ornateness of surface. Malmaison is a country estate to which the most intimate of associates to Josephine and Napoleon were invited.
They came for games of billiards and dined in a comfortable setting that echoed the game room decor. Softly draped separate bedrooms, the custom of the day, are more opulent than the public areas.
This location is well outside Paris and in a different direction than Versailles, figuratively as well as literally. Their children enjoyed this home, we are told. The emperor captured a lot of land in his day; when the core of his family was captured on canvas, the setting was a room at Malmaison, a place of obvious endearment.
This brush with Bonaparte is brief. His final home in Paris is on tomorrow’s itinerary. Returning to the ship there is enough time to walk the narrow streets of the docking city Conflans, see a pretty church, and take photos of a former chateau that is now a boat museum.
Back on the river, docked boats are floating homes. The church and chateau visited earlier are visible on the hilltop when setting sail during lunch.
A day in Paris will finish the trip. A one-eighth replica of the Statue of Liberty adorns the bridge nearest the Grenelle district docking site, welcoming boaters to the City of Light with her torch. She faces west, looking into the eyes of the big sister in New York harbor.