Not Much Things To Do Here For A Tourist
Fontainebleau is not too far away from Paris and is easily accessible by train, coach and car. Other than the impressive castle, there is really nothing much to do here in this sleepy town.
The only advice I can give you to bring along an open mind and lots of FILM for your camera. If you're a technophile, bring along your video cam or digital camera! ;-))
All the rooms are arranged by furniture in an empire style. The Smart gallery, gallery Fransisk the First and a gallery are located in a medieval part of a palace In the western wing the Museum of Napoleon is created.
A Palace, A Town, A Forest
"Visits to the Palace"
We have visited the palace twice, about 20 years apart, each time as participants in guided tours (one commercial, one Elderhostel). The Palace is in a town of 27K population and is served by SCNF trains out of the Gare de Lyon (where combined tickets are availble at an attractive price); bus connection for the 2 km to the palace is included. (We have never done this). We have driven through Fontainebleau on other trips and the town is quiet. We have stayed nearby in Moret-sur-Loing and in a little town in the Forest called Recloses. The forest surrounds Fontainebleau. Francis I used it for hunting but today it is a favorite hiking area for the French and its rock formations are reported to be good for climbing both for sport and learning and practicing technics used in more difficult places.
For 20 years we engaged in idependent travel. a great deal of it in France, flying into de Galule or Orly and renting (or lease-purchasing) a car. We would save Paris for other trips and head for a small location in the Ile de France or close by. We would terminate our trip in a similar place within 1 hour of our return airport for the flight home. There are a geat number of these places and although some can be negotiated as day-trips from Paris, this is a better way. For instance it is easier to visit Vaux-le-Vicomte from near Fontainebleau in your own car than any other way, and you can add on Nemours, Melun and be ready for Sens enroute futher afield. There are plenty of small inns (some with star restaurants) and in this new world of chepa long-distance calls and email, reservations are easy (not like 10-20 years ago).
Beautiful little town
This small town not so far from Paris is in the middle of the hunting forests of the French kings.
It's worth a visit, only 45 mins by train from Paris Gare de Lyons.
For those who are into this there is a wonderful MBA school here, too, INSEAD.
A Tour of the Palace Interior (pt 2)
"The Guard Room"
On leaving the Francois I Gallerywe entered the Guard Room which quite properly is located before the Royal Apartments to the left and the Ball Rooom to the right. (Mme. Maintenon's Suite was ahead but closed). The most noteworthy thing in this dark room was a white carved fireplace with a bust of Henri IV (by M. Jacquet, 1600).
"More to See Here"
The ceiling of the room decorated during the reign of Louis XIII (1570) inspired the decor of the rest of the room which has had much added to it.
"La Salle de Bal"
We quickly entered the Ballroom, the greatest achievement of Francois and finished under Henri II. (This is so important that we made it a Tip of Things to Do).
"The King's Staircase"
On leaving the Ballroom we heade back toward the Royal Apartments, entering on the way a room that was once the bedchamber of Mme. d'Etampes. The transformation carefully utilized the room walls and ceiling above the staircase. This is some of Primaticcio's best work (1541-4).
The next roooms utilized the remains of the original hunting lodge (the Donjon and more). THe ceiling is as expected, a domed one.
Along the wall stands a remarkable statue. She has many names "Nature". Cybele, Diana of Ephesus, Goddess of Plenty or Fertility.
"The History of this Work"
It was commissioned by Francois I from Tribolo (1526) and originally supported a large bowl. Cybele was a Phrygian goddess and we have seen one or more of these, that served as the source, in Turkey.
"The Saint Louis Rooms"
These rooms are obviously also part of the old manor and look out on the oval courtyard. One opens into the other. At the depth of the second room is a fireplace. Above it is a bas relief of Henri IV on horseback. This was originally part of a fireplace in the wing called the "Belle Cheminee" Wing situated
to the SW (built in 1570). In the 18C Louis XV converted that area into a theater and the mantel top was saved. It is also by Jacquet (about 1600).