Another wonderful space in the magnificent Chateau de Fontainebleau. This is the Chinese museum and its just one of the four museums in the Chateau/Museum of Fontainebleau.
The Museum Chinese on order of Eugenie in 1863 have East Asian collections collected by the Empress. They are both from the imperial garde-MEUBLE (wardrobe) , acquisitions by Napoleon III and Eugénie, the sack of the summer palace of Beijing by the expeditionary corps Franco-British in 1860, in addition to diplomatic Embassy of Siam gifts received in Fontainebleau in 1861.
Indeed, the ground floor of the large Pavilion, in the heart of the castle, rutile Asian objects collected by the Emperatrice Eugénie.Created in 1863, the Chinese Empress Museum includes an ante-room, two lounges and a reception room, restored as if the visitor was actually taking tea with the Emperatrice.
Its part of the visit and not to be missed. I go there often as it is in my wife's native region and my first castle ever visited in France!!! Admission included with the entry to castle at 11€ adults
Wonderful gardens one of my best since younger days coming over from my girlfriend now wife who is from the area.
The garden of Diane, North of the Castle, was raised by Catherine de Medici on a space already built by François Ier and was at the time known as Garden of the Queen. Traced to the French, the garden was redesigned by Henri IV and cloisonne to the North by an Orangery. It was again redesigned under Louis XIV. In the 19th century under Napoleon I and Louis-Philippe, the garden was transformed into English garden and destroyed Orangery. It owes its name to the fountain of Diane, conducted by Francini in 1603, placed in its centre. This fountain has found bronze dogs that complemented each other and that had been removed after the French Revolution. Partially met in 1813 Napoleon, la fontaine recovered its original appearance in 1964, with the transfer of the dogs kept at the Musée du Louvre. The statue is a copy of antique (the Diane de Versailles, now in the Louvre) from the castle of Marly. She replaced from 1813 the origin of Barthélemy Prieur bronze, currently preserved in the Gallery of the deer. The statue, known as Diane in the biche, dates from 1684. The gardens are bordered to the East by the wing of the Gallery of deer (galerie des cerfs) in brick and stone, and the jeu de paume in the West.
Abandoned after the Revolution, the area now constituting the English garden has been recreated in 1812 by the architect Maximilien Joseph Hurtault according to the wishes of Napoleon I . However, sites have been built as early as the reign of François Ier, who had carried raise a garden of pine trees. This garden, known by Du Cerceau boards as the "garden of the Clos de l'Etang", was prepared at the site of the former Trinitarian religious clos. A contract in 1538 with Claude de Creil provided several works: the increase of a cultivated garden, the planting of vines, of willows, and the seed of pine seed. The King then embellishes it of two factories: Pomona Pavilion (pavillon de rest built in 1530 in the Northwest corner, decorated with two frescoes of the story of Vertumnus and Pomona by the Rosso and Primaticcio, which was destroyed in 1566), and the current Cave of the garden of the pines. Even after the disappearance of these trees, the name has remained, and Henri IV plant is the first plane, rare essence at the time. More numerous today, the plane alongside several Bald Cypress.Today, the garden consists of groves and an artificial river. The species currently present in the garden are composed of spruce, Bald Cypress, Virginia Tulip trees and Sophoras of Japan, the oldest dating back to the Second Empire . The garden is decorated with several outdoor sculptures, including two copies of antique bronze of the 17th century: the Borghese Gladiator and the dying Gladiator, as well as a work by Joseph-Charles Martin: sitting Telemachus in the island of Oygie.
Cave of the garden of the pines. This cave, located on the ground floor of the Pavilion southwest of the Court of Cheval Blanc and characteristic taste for the waterlilies in the 16th century, presents arcades rustic bosses supported by Atlanteans in the form of monstrous satyrs opening onto an interior adorned with frescoes (animals in landforms, rocks, shells, etc.). The grotto of pines was the subject of major restorations, in 1984-1986 and then in 2007, which helped to restore the initial of the decoration of the vault composition and replace the soil at its former level. The Fountain Bliaud located in the middle of the garden, in the hollow of a Grove , the fountain Bliaud or Blaut, called Belle-Eau during the 16th century and which gave its name to the Castle, flows in a small square cut panels.
The etang des carpes and its pavillon . Au a large pond populated with three carp, which the first specimens, sixty, were offered to Henri IV by Charles of Lorraine , it has a building of octagonal low roof soberly decorated, built under Henri IV, rebuilt under Louis XIV in 1662 and restored by Napoleon I
The 'Parterre', 'Big garden', or 'Garden of the King' was created under François Ier, and traced under Henri IV and redesigned by André Le Nôtre. The basins of the Tiber and Romulus draw their name in a sculptural group that adorned them successively in the 16th and 17th centuries. Melted during the Revolution, the Tiber, molded again after the original preserved in the Louvre today regained his place. The central basin was adorned in 1817 a vanity from a fountain in the form of rock called the "boiling pot" which existed at this location in the 17th century. Enclosed by walls between 1528 and 1533. Built between 1660 and 1664, it included the tendrils forming the figures of King Louis XIV and the Queen Mother Anne of Austria, who disappeared in the 18th century. The terraces were planted Linden trees under Napoleon I.Cascade basin was built in 1661-1662 at the end of the floor, but since the 18th century, no longer only a basin to the ornate marble niches. The basin is decorated in the centre since 1866 an Eagle defending its prey in bronze.
The nearly 80-hectare park was created under Henri IV, who helped dig the Grand canal 1.2 km long between 1606 and 1609, and is planting several species of trees, including pines, Elms and fruit trees. Previously François Ier had to 1530 established the "Pergola du Roi», long also 1.2 km, where was grown on the South face of the wall the chasselas doré Fontainebleau. The canal, nearly 60 years before that of Versailles, quickly becomes a place of attraction. We could walk there by boat and Louis XIII helped navigate a galley. It is fed by several aqueducts established in the 16th century.
Royal and Imperial Fontainebleau
inside the castle you have the musée Napoléon 1er or the Napoleon I museum. This is dedicated to the Emperor and his family, occupying 15 rooms on the first floor(2 FL) and ground floor (1 FL)at the wing Louis XV. The museum has souvenirs, objects d’arts,furniture,, ceramics, arms etc etc of the family. Contact tel +33 01 60 71 50 60. guided visit last about 1h15, admission is 3€ upon request from June to September. Otherwise open every day from 9h30 to 18h October thru May.
there are other museums like the chinese, but this one is by far the best of them in my opinion.
Back in 1990 married a French woman from the region, and it was the first monument/castle I saw in France with her. So it has remained special/ we are friends of the castle and visit often. Some of the history
the Chateau de Fontainebleau. It was king François Ier who seduce by the beauty of the area ordered to demolished the feodal castle done by king Louis IX (Saint Louis) and built a renaissance castle instead. It was the home of the French kings/emperors from the 16C to the 19C from François I to Napoleon III. All of them at one time or the other had something to do with the castle, a window, a door a renovation a construction a garden they all left their imprints here. It is ,also, the site of a painters school from the 16C started by le Rosso ( a disciple of Michael Ange ) and le Primatice. The school is still there on a side building.
A bit of a tour of the exterior, the most imposing is the cour du Cheval Blanc ou des Adieux ( horse shape court of the white horse or of the goodbyes). This exterior tour can take from 1h to 2h according to your pace. It starts here at the cour du Cheval Blanc as I like to call it. It was the honor court of the Emperor, then you go by the cour de la Fontaine, located by the etang des Carpes or the lake of Carps ( a fish); the fountain gives you a very pure water and was only used by the king which he had it guard daily. The current fountain dates from 1812 with a statue of Ulyses. Then , you cross the porte Dorée or golden door dating from 1528 with a sculptured salamander the symbol of king François I. You make your steps backward coming to the chapelle du Baptistére (baptismal chapel not visited only by groups but gorgeous inside), and you arrive at cour Ovale or oval court, the oldest at the castle as it sits at the courtyard of the old feodal castle first built here where today you only see the donjon or tower, at the other end you see the porte du Baptistére. You continue your tour with the cour des Offices or Cuisines, where the entrance is guarded by two impressive heads of Hermés (1640 AD) ;this courtyard was built in 1609 AD by king Henry IV, and you can see from here the front of the place d’Armes and its magnificent architecture. Once you noticed the gardens, oh la la la! First come into the jardin de Diane or Diana’s garden created by Catherine de Médicis.You should make a brief walk by the grotte du jardin des Pins or cave of the garden of pines, decorated with frescos by king François I. Come across from here to the English garden where the water flows on a small fountain call Bliaud or Blaut that gives the name to the Chateau in old French,until you reach the Parterre design by gardener Le Notre . The park is a creation of king Henry IV that created the canal in 1609 AD (about 60 yrs before the Grand Canal at Versailles), and planted oak,pines, and fruit trees all around it. You can ride all these gardens in horse wagon or attelages starting from the porte Dorée in season (mostly summers) for about 4€, you can reserve it on weekend and off season ahead of time. Contact tel + 33 01 64 22 92 61 or Mob +33 06 81 50 09 20. You can ,also, see the jeu de paume de Fontainebleau by the side of the jardin de Diane, where from 1601 AD tennis and squash are still practice from 11h to 19h for free, you can watch others play or play yourself. Contact tel +33 01 64 22 47 67.
Coming inside the castle, of course, you cannot missed the Grands Appartements where you will see the splendid galerie François I or the chapelle de la Trinité, the chapel where Louis XV marries Marie Leszczynska and where the future Napoleon III was baptised. Stop by the escalier du Roi( king’s stair) built under king Louis XV where the theme is the history of Alexander as seen by the Primatice painter. You will end up at the salle de bal or ballroom where the paintings and the layout are absolutely marvelous. To the side you will see the appartements royaux or royal apartments where Catherine de Médicis and Henry IV lived;just gorgeous. Here the galerie de Diane long of 80 meters (264 ft) was transformed into a library under the Second Empire. After you walk thru numerous rooms, boudoirs,and galleries take a look at the appartements intérieur de l’Empereur or the interior apartments of the Emperor; where it is the bedroom and the salon de l’Abdication or abdication room where the Emperor Napoleon I abdicated on April 6, 1814. The furniture has remain the same here ever since. You go to the ground floor of the galerie François I that gives way to the jardin de Diane to visit the Petits Appartements or Small apartments that were used by Napoleon I and Josephine. These are the private apartments of the monarch first used by king Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry …… The smaller ones are decorated under Josephine (1808 AD) such as the salon Jaune or yellow bedroom that is exquisite. You come into the galerie des Cerfs or Gallery of Stags that was given the name because of the heads of stags that is decorated with and were a replacement to the statues done by the Primatice in 1540.
The castle appeared in Fontainebleau near 1100, and served as a residence to kings of Capeting dynasty. It got a present view of a palace in style of Renessanse after 1527 at Francisk the First. Italian architects were invited for this purpose. Fontainebleau was used only in autumn for hunting after construction of Versailles.
You can watch my 2 min 04 sec Video Fontainebleau Palace out of my Youtube channel.
While Napoleon I is the most closely associated with the Chateau de Fontainebleau, you can see evidence throughout the palace of the other rulers who used the chateau as a refuge from Paris. Although the first chateau was built here in the 1100s, Francois I was the king that converted the hunting lodge here into a palace in the 1500s, you can see Francois' symbol, a salamander, throughout. Henri II left his mark on the ballroom, you can see the intertwined initials there, the H&D is for his mistress Diane de Poitiers and H&C for his wife Catherine de Medici. Napoleon's symbol was a simple N.
Fontainebleau was a bit neglected during the years of Louis XIV-Louis XVI, Louis XIV after all had the magnificent Versailles which even today remains the most impressive chateau in the Ile de France. The chateau found importance again under the reign of Napoleon I, his influence can be seen more than any of the other rulers who lived or visited here, he restored Fontainebleau after the French Revolution when it's collections were sold off. After being forced to abdicate, Napoleon survived a suicide attempt by poisoning at the Chateau. On April 20, 1814 he bid farewell to his Imperial Guard from the horseshoe staircase in the chateau's Cour d’Honneur courtyard before being exiled to the island of Elba.
The visit to the grand apartments of the chateau is currently 10€ (the website says 8€ but my receipt says 10€) and includes an audioguide. The visit is quite extensive compared to other chateaux, I think it took us a couple of hours to tour the inside.
The chateau is closed on Tuesdays. Under 18 is free, under 26 is free if you come from the EU, included on the Paris Museum Pass.
The gardens at Fontainebleau are free to visit even if you decide not to visit the interior of the chateau.
The largest part of the gardens is the Grand Parterre, the largest formal garden in Europe which was created during the reign of Louis XIV by André Le Nôtre and Louis Le Vau. We heard Le Nôtre's name several times on this trip, the gardens at Vaux le Vicomte, Chantilly and Versailles were among the many gardens that he designed or collaborated on.
The Jardin de Diane is a tree filled area with a statue of the goddess of hunting, take a close look at the fountain and see that the streams of water coming from the dogs are a bit unusual.
The English garden dates back to the time of Francois I, it was redesigned during the reign of Napoleon I. It wasn't very remarkable, mostly trees and grass.
Starting from the 6th century this place was a hunting lodge for the king. Six centuries later the place was turned into a permanent castle.
This was one of the places we visited in 1950. The way I can tell which of the palaces (Fontainebleau or Versailles) in my dad's pictures is the double stairway on the front of Fontainebleau and from the rooflines.
Open daily except Tuesdays
Closed on 1st January, 1st May and 25 December
Open from 9.30 am to 5pm (6pm from June to September)
Last admission 45 minutes before closure
The State Apartments are accessible to disabled persons in wheelchairs; specific tours for blind persons or persons with impaired vision.
State Apartments (Renaissance rooms, State Apartments of the sovereigns and the Emperor’s Inner Apartment, the Chinese Museum). Audioguides can be made available for the visit. The Museum of Napoleon 1st and the small apartments are open on selected days, as a guided tour conducted by a Museum agent.
- STATE APARTMENTS (Renaissance rooms, State Apartments of the sovereigns and the Inner Apartment of the Emperor):
- Full price : € 6,50
- Reduced price : € 4,50
- Free for persons under 18 years of age
- SMALL APARTMENTS, Museum of Napoleon 1st and circuit on the theme “Fontainebleau under the second Empire”:
- Full price : € 3 (per circuit)
- Reduced price : € 2 (per circuit)
- Free for persons under 18 years of age
By renting an audioguide for €4.60 from the Tourist Office for 1½ hours, you are free to go and explore the courtyards and gardens of the Chateau.
As advertised these horse and carriage rides will take adults for 5 euro and children for 4 euro - makes an interesting and relaxing way to see the grounds of Fontainebleu - which are quite extensive - and imagine back to the days of when this was the transport of the day.
This looks a bit like a tourist trap but I am sure for the romantic inclined or those with children this might be rather nice especially on a nice day.
The views looking to the dramatic big buildings around Fontainebleu would probably look rather good from across the pond in a boat too I imagine.
A little expensive though at 10 euro for half an hour.
The majestic Palace of Fontainebleau, is a stunning site. A Royal Palace from the 15th Century onwards, its architecture and its rooms present a potporri of styles, ranging from the Rennaissance to the 19th Century. A visit here is highly recommended.
The most famous feature of the front of the palace is the grand horseshoe stairs, first built during the reign of Henry II. The present stairs date to the 17th Century.
NOTE: After the Queens bedroom, my batteries dies and I had no others with me.
When Napoleon I also became enamored of Fontainebleau, he used the North entrance and prepared ground level rooms behind the chapel for easy access and use. For security and importance he had the fine wrought iron fence built and emblazoned with his imperial "N" and placed two guilded iron eagles above. This sealed off his court of honor. (It is where he took his farewell after Waterloo). To the left a communicating walk leads to the Garden and Fountain of Diana. The Huntress statue (1603) as commissioned by Catherine de Medici has had its bronze dogs returned from the Louvre. The water show wasinstalled in 1803. There were many valuable statues scattered around but they have been moved indoors. (We did not have time for the Deer Gallery or the Museums).
We entered the Palace grounds at the North (the White Horse Courtyard) with the monumental staircase before us and the ticket office far in at the right. These stairs were only used for ceremonies and special arrivals. The working entrance is on the opposite side (South) which is seen after the tour is completed. The earliest entrance was through the oval courtyard (see other Tips), but Francis made a more imposing entrance on the outer side nearby in his first rebuilding in 1528 called the Porte Doree. It has a salamander in the tympanum. Catherine de Medicis built a wing next to this to the West with an Italianate double ramp entering from the Cour de la Fontaine; a balustrade separates this Cour from the Carp Pond and at its edge is a fountain and a statue now of Ulysses (1815) but previously of Hercules by Michelangelo. The arcade at the depth of the Cour is below the Galerie Francis I and it fronted the King's bathing suite.
The oval courtyard was the area of everyday entry from the time of the original manor of the Fontaine de Bliaud in 1137 through the construction of the Porte Doree. The keep (donjon) is still at its depth. It was not open to us during our tour, so our pictures are not entire. The entrance in later years (1605) was graced by the Dauphin's Entrance (Baptismal Gate) which stands just off the two pillars topped by Hermes heads which overlooks the Cour des Offices. This area is surrounded by fine 1609 buildings that contain quarters and kitchens, a place to house the numerous non-noblilty that ran and protected the palace. The courtyard was also the parking-lot for those approved visitors on official business.
The Ballroom was finished under Henri II. By this time Primaticcio had replaced Rosso and before it was finished in the early 1550’s, Niccolo dell’Abbate had replaced him. as the one in charge. In fact the painting is mostly his, following sketches by the former. The satyr andirons of the fireplace are replacements of the Primaticcio originals wich were melted during the Revolution. There was to have been a vaulted ceiling but this distinguished coffered walnut one was designed and installed instead! The room is 30m long and 10 wide. Henri II’s monogram is on the mantel and in other places. He would stand upon the apron before the fireplace , warming himself and regally watching the chilled guests dance. The musician's gallery is above the entry door.