Soituated in the outskirts of the town of Trois-Ilets, this former sugar estate is the birthplace of Napoleon’s wife Joséphine, born as Marie-Joséphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie. From this almost 500 hectares plantation, known then as “Petite Guinée”, remains only the ruins of the base of the main house, the kitchen turned into a small museum and the sugar factory with the sugar mill.
Driving down the small cobble stoned road to the museum is a trip back in time and the site is quite charming with the garden hosting a multitude of flowers and old trees. Not much is left of the old plantation itself but the objects and paintings in the museum allow one to imagine how the place used to be back in the day, and also reminds the visitor of the harsh conditions of slavery. In fact, the plantation had about 150 slaves and produced mostly sugar, but also cocoa, cotton, coffee, cassava…
Joséphine was born here in 1763 as the oldest daughter of the Tascher de la Pagerie family and was known on the plantation as Yeyette or Rose. A hurricane hit the island in 1766 destroying most of the plantation as well as the main house, forcing the family to live at the upper floor of the sugar factory. This was the beginning of a life of debts and bad reputation for the family.
The museum was established in 1944 by the town’s mayor Robert Rose-Rosette who saved the estate from completely falling into ruin and is now a musée departmental.
In the small kitchen you will discover different memorabilia, letters, portraits and Josephine’s childhood bed and learn a lot about her life on the plantation as well as her destiny as the Empress of France. She left Martinique at the age of 16 to marry her first husband and only came back once just before the start of the revolution.
Did you know her first husband Alexandre de Beauharnais was guillotined in the French revolution? Or that although born in Martinique she is quite unpopular among the locals? Discover more secrets about her tumultuous life on our South Caribbean Tour or request a custom itinerary!