In the shade of centennial trees

L'Ile Verte © T.Joly
Dotted with woods and parks planted with remarkable trees, Châtenay-Malabry is a haven of greenery at the gates Paris. This peaceful little town also possesses monuments that remind the famous people who lived there, such as Chateaubriand.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- RATP bus 194 leaving from Porte d’Orléans.
- RATP buses 195 and 294 leaving from Chatillon-Montrouge metro station.
- RER B till Robinson, then buses 194 or 195 till Châtenay-Malabry.
Going around
Bus 194 serves all the sights. Get off at Marc Sangnier stop for the Arboretum and Chateaubriand house. Get off at Docteur Le Savoureux stop for the city centre. Get off at Lycée Polyvalent stop for the Butte Rouge.
- Hotels
Hôtel du Parc
Hôtel Le Chateaubriand
- Bed and Breakfast
La Demeure des Tilleuls
Le Clos des Princes
Les Ecrivains
Le Royal Equestre
Le Chateaubriand
Maison de Chateaubriand
87 rue de Chateaubriand
Open every day except Monday from 2 pm till 5 pm from October 1st to March 31st, from 10am till 12 am and from 2 pm till 6 pm from April 1st to September 30th.
Entrance : 4,50 €.
Tel : 0147020862
Bonsai Rémy Samson
25 rue de Chateaubriand
Tel : 0147029199
- Châtenay-Malabry Tourist Office
26 rue du Docteur Le Savoureux
Tel : 0146834613
- Hauts de Seine Tourist Office
Fifteen kilometres southwest of Paris, Châtenay-Malabry is a town of 30 000 inhabitants that keeps partially the charm it had between the 17th and 19th centuries. At that time it was only a small village surrounded by fields and woods where life was enjoyable and where noblemen liked to come hunting.

Châtenay-Malabry © T.Joly
 Beautiful properties
Many personalities owned properties or lived there in those days including Colbert, Minister of Finance under the rule of King Louis XIV, the writers Chateaubriand and Eugène Sue, Mme de Récamier, who was famous for her beauty and a leader of literary and political circles in the early 19th century … To get a glimpse of this past, the best is to go in the Vallée aux Loups (Wolves Valley) where you will find a 36 ha forest planted with oaks and chestnut trees. Of course there are no more wolves, stags or hinds. But the walkers who ramble on the paths crisscrossing it can observe foxes, weasels, squirrels, hedgehogs and more than forty species of birds.
This wood is lined with beautiful properties that were built over the centuries by wealthy people looking for tranquillity. One of the most interesting to see is the Ile Verte that consists of an one floor house built amidst a luxuriant vegetation at the edge of a small pond and a stone bridge.

Chateaubriand's house © T.Joly
 A portico with caryatids
It is named after a work by painter Jean Fautrier - one of the most representative of the informal art trend - who lived there from 1945 till his death in 1964.
But the most famous and the most imposing of these estates is Chateaubriand’s one. First a gardener house, it was deeply modified by the writer who settled there in 1807 when Emperor Napoleon 1st exiled him from Paris. He extended it, embellished the facades, added a portico with caryatids and, inside, he linked the ground and the first floors with a mahogany staircase taken from an English ship. The rooms furnishing and organization evoke his life as well as Madame de Récamier’ one who lived there after the ruined writer had to sell the estate in 1818. The house also holds a library rich of 12 000 books and documents dealing with his work and his career.

Arboretum © T.Joly
 Remarkable trees
The vast park spreading around was also created by Chateaubriand who planted trees from Brittany - his native land - and from the countries he visited as a traveller or as a diplomat. Lebanon cedar, Italian poplar, sequoia, bold cypress of Louisiana, yellow poplar from Virginia,.. In this idyllic setting, in a 18th century tower set up as a study, he wrote some of his works such as the first chapters of “Memoirs from Beyond the Grave”.
Located just beside, the Arboretum is equally enjoyable and fascinating for ramblers and people having a passion for botany. Spreading around a pond and a waterway, lined with two beautiful 17th – 18th centuries mansions, this former English garden was rearranged at the end of the 19th century by a nurseryman, Charles Croux. He planted trees and shrubs from the whole world that are now more than hundred years old.

Châtenay-Malabry © T.Joly
 Peaceful historical centre
Thus, it is possible to see 165 different types of trees, including one of the oldest weeping blue Atlas cedar of Europe that covers a surface of 680 sq metre, a Japanese sophora, a Japanese Torreya, a giant sequoia, a Portuguese laurel, different dogwoods, a purple beech,… Besides, there are several themed gardens focusing on fruits, hydrangeas, styracaceaes, alders, or conceived to give flaming colours in autumn. Spring is another highlight with the flowering cherry trees giving the feeling to be in Japan. Lastly, gardening lessons are provided all year round.
Only 10-15 minutes away by foot, relatively peaceful compared to other towns of the suburbs, the historical centre of Châtenay-Malabry also possesses numerous ancient buildings. Several 18th and 19th centuries houses. A villa, once owned by Colbert. The château de la Roseraie, that is now standing within the walls of a sport teaching centre. Most of these monuments are within short distance of the church, whose 11th century bell tower is representative of Romanesque architecture in Ile-de-France.

Garden city La Butte Rouge © T.Joly
 Garden city
All around are found the streets having the most ancient looking and in one of them a building bears a bust of Voltaire. It reminds the never confirmed hypothesis that the philosopher and writer might be born in Châtenay-Malabry as his parents briefly lived there in that year, in 1694.
The town is also worth a detour for a very nice example of modern architecture : the garden city of the Butte Rouge so called because it stands on a red earthed hill. Between 1932 and 1965 architects erected there 3 700 social housings in moderate sized buildings sometimes topped by a terrace. All have in common pink facades as well as uncluttered and firmly modern lines. But their main characteristic is to be surrounded by green spaces and small gardens where the inhabitants grow flowers, fruits and vegetables. That’s the proof it is possible to develop popular suburbs where life is enjoyable. Like in the past.

June 08, 2009
Thierry Joly 

[ Bonsais ]

Few people know about that, but Châtenay-Malabry boasts one of the world’s finest collections of bonsais. The Bonsai Rémy Samson company indeed possesses more than 7 000 trees of all ages, styles and prices. Thus, at the bend of the alleys it is possible to admire a hackberry more than 300 years old, a 160 years old five needles pine, a 95 years old variegated privet or a 160 years old banyan fig worth 7 500 € !!! But there are also hundreds of younger trees, from 5 to 25 years old, far cheaper, that have been created by Rémy Samson and his spouse. They also offer workshops to learn how to create, prune, maintain and treat bonsais as well as a care service for trees for people going away on holiday.