Rueil-Malmaison was originally called simply Rueil. In Medieval times the name Rueil was spelled either Roialum, Riogilum, Rotoialum, Ruolium, or Ruellium. This name is made of the Celtic word ialo (meaning clearing, glade, place of) suffixed to a radical meaning brook, stream (Latin rivus, Old French ru), or maybe to a radical meaning ford (Celtic ritu).
In 1928 the name of the commune officially became Rueil-Malmaison in reference to its most famous tourist attraction, the Chteau de Malmaison, home of Napoleon's first wife Josephine de Beauharnais.
The name Malmaison comes from Medieval Latin mala mansio, meaning ill-fated domain, estate of ill luck. In the Early Middle Ages Malmaison was the site of a royal residence which was destroyed by the Vikings in 846, hence the name.
Rueil is famous for the Chateau de Malmaison where Napoleon and his first wife Josephine de Beauharnais lived. Upon her death in 1814 she was buried at the nearby St. Pierre and St. Paul church, which lies at the centre of the city.
The Rueil barracks of the Swiss Guard was constructed in 1756 under Louis XV by the architect Axel Guillaumot, and has been a listed Historic Monument since 1973. The Guard was formed by Louis XIII in 1616 and massacred at the Tuileries on 10 August 1792.
During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Rueil was located on the front line.
At the end of the 19th century famous painters like Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet came to paint the Seine which crosses the city.
Rueil-Malmaison is served by Rueil-Malmaison station on Paris RER line A.
The famous Chteau de Malmaison, home of Napoleon's first wife Josephine de Beauharnais, is located in Rueil-Malmaison. The public may visit the manor house as a Napoleonic musee national, with guided tours available.