However, they could not forgive Hortense for sticking by her stepfather upon his return from Elba, and consequently she had to leave France. She escaped with both her sons to Switzerland and eventually ended up near the Bodensee close to Konstanz. There she bought a small castle on a cliff overlooking the lake: Schloss Arenenberg.
Franz Liszt played on her piano,
The young writer Alexandre Dumas
listened when she sang his favourite romance
and the poet Lord Byron came and stayed with her.
From her base in Switzerland she travelled extensively, often to Italy where her second son, Napoleon-Louis, lived with his father. Hortense was very worried when they took part in the Italian revolt against Austrian rule in 1831. During this episode Napoleon-Louis died and Louis Napoleon had to flee.