Fontainebleau is a commune in the greater area of Paris, in the Île-de-France region. It is located just 56 kilometers south-southeast outside of central Paris and is considered to cover the largest area of land in the region, even larger than that of Paris! The total population of the arrondissement is 16 236 people. It is most famous for its beautiful forest, where many Parisians find a getaway within but also is home to the Château de Fontainebleau.
Things to do & Places to see in Fontainbleau, France
1. La Château de Fontainebleau
La Château de Fontainebleau is a place of true sovereignty, that lies just over 50 kilometers outside of central Paris. It has housed royal families such as the Capétiens, Bourbons,Valois, Orléans and the Bonapartes through the ages. With all the royal families making additions and renovations of the palace it has grown enormously from its original stature. The first ever mention of the palace was in the early 12th century but it is believed that the palace could have been around a long time before that. The chateau is a wondrous example of architecture from throughout history, with features that are unique to its particular period ranging from the 12th century all the way through to the 19th century. For example the palace has a wonderful horse shoe shaped staircase that is a rife example of Renaissance architecture. The palace itself consists of wonderfully decorated apartments that were all used for a variation of things. The decor however does make one feel at home, with its warm, happy colors. Due to its preservation when viewed, the apartments can be seen to have been kept exactly the way they were in the early 19th century. Whilst there are many apartments suited for different residents, there are also beautiful galleries that were used to socialize among guests. Today only three galleries remain. The palace is also home to magnificent chapels of its own that were designed in the 12th century.
When you're strolling around the palace on a tour you might think to yourself that the rooms hold many antiques and relics from their time. This is of course precisely what is happening. The palace has become home to four museums that naturally have old antique furniture, old relics, paintings and sculptures displayed within their apartments.There is the Empress' Chinese Museum that was created in 1863. It has on display many far-east treasures that were collected by the Empress Eugenie. Then there is the Napolean I Museum that was created in 1986. The museum is housed in Napolean's original apartments. It brings together an extremely broad range of artifacts ranging from a spectacular collection of furniture, artifacts of a historical nature, costumes, sculptures to arms. It serves as a wonderful representation of Napolean's life between 1804 and 1815. There is of course then the Galerie de Peinture which is the gallery of paintings that opened in 1998. This wonderful display shows a vast range of oil paintings, with pieces from the Louvre dating back as far a the 17th century. These paintings however are not featured in the apartments but rather in the rooms that extend off the Diana Gallery. And finally the most recent museum addition to the palace is the Furniture Gallery which was added in 2009. A range of furniture from through the past centuries that were housed at the palace are featured, including objets d'art and many vintage textiles. It has a schedule of changing exhibitions that are exclusive to the time period from which the items are from.
La Chtâeau de Fontainebleau is open every day of the week from 9:30 am until 5 pm (October-March) and the from 9:30 am until 6 pm (April to September). Tickets to access the palace cost 11€ per person.
2. Les Jardins de Fontainebleau
The gardens of Fontainebleau are simply fantastic and emanate an intense sense of grandiose. To start there is the Grand Parterre. This garden is considered to be the largest garden in the whole of Europe. When in season it has over 45 000 flowers in bloom. It was designed by the highly famous Andre Le Notre and Louis Le Vau in the 17th century. It even features a beautiful pond that is home to a quaint kiosk that assists those who wish to boat around the pond. Next we have the precious Garden Anglais. This garden lies right next to the palace on the right hand side and was created in the 19th century. It features a series of paths and rivers whilst being scattered with magnificent sculptures that make a walk through them unbelievably magical. The smaller garden of the three is the Jardin de Diane. This garden features a spectacular fountain that serves as a centre piece, featuring a beautiful statue of Diane the Huntress. Leading away from the wonderful palace gardens is Le Parc. This is the dense forest that leads away from the Grand Parterre towards the city. It stretches for about 1.2 kilometers, and has a canal incorporated into it. This canal was man-made by royalty to create a boundary line between the palace gardens and the villagers that would've dwelled in the forest. A walk through any of these, maybe even all of them will leave you feeling revitalized and enchanted. It is definitely a destination in Fountainbleau that should not be overlooked.
How Do I Get Here From Paris?
With Fontainebleau being in the Île-de-France region, and thus only 56 kilometers between it and the capital, traveling will be super simple! As it is there are 44 trains a day between Paris and Avon(an area next to Fontainbleau), so getting to your destination will be nice an easy. The Transilien train takes around 37-40 minutes to arrive at its destination and costs only €27,90. From the train station you could either walk to the palace or take a shuttle bus. There is a wonderful route if you walk from the station, you can walk through the park into the Grand Parterre that leads to the palace.