The national forest of Malmaison covers 500 acres and was bought by Josephine in 1800. Part of the estate of the Château de Malmaison, it extended as far as the forest of Celle-Saint-Cloud.
The Empress particularly enjoyed her walks around the estate. And beside the pond at Saint-Cucufa, she had a sheepfold and a cow-shed built. The latter was rebuilt to provide a house for the park rangers.
During a trip to Switzerland in 1810, Josephine became convinced of the superiority of transalpine dairy products, and so she had Swiss livestock brought back and installed in the Malmaison Forest. She even brought back a farming couple from Berne to rear the cows. More than 500 merino sheep from Spain were added to complete this menagerie.
After the death of Josephine, the estate was divided up and partially cleared of trees. But it was her grandson, Napoleon III, who prevented the forest from being parceled out as a result of a series of property exchanges. Subsequently, he repurchased the forest in 1856 and incorporated it into his civil list.
In 1870 and 1871, captain Nisme and his artillerymen set up their battery in the Forest of Malmaison in their fierce assaults against the Prussians entrenched behind the Buzenval wall. In 1871, the forest became a national park and was entered on the list of properties owned by the state.