Fontainebleau Things to Do

  • Chapel Haute de Saint-Saturnin
    Chapel Haute de Saint-Saturnin
    by Beausoleil
  • Chapel Haute de Saint-Saturnin
    Chapel Haute de Saint-Saturnin
    by Beausoleil
  • Swan enjoying the English gardens
    Swan enjoying the English gardens
    by Beausoleil

Most Recent Things to Do in Fontainebleau

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    Visit the Château

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 30, 2015

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    For a self-guided visit of the Château (Palace), they offer a “Grands Appartements” ticket which includes admission to the Papal Apartment, the Renaissance Rooms, the Chapel of Saint Saturnin, the sovereign Grands Appartements, the Diana Gallery and the Napoleon I Museum. As of 2015, this costs eleven Euros, or nine Euros for those who get a reduction.

    There is also a video guide available for an additional three Euros. (I neglected to get the video guide in Fontainebleau, but I have used a similar one in Maintenon and found it very informative.)

    In addition, various guided tours are on offer (guided by a real person, not a machine), in both French and English.

    Second photo: This horseshoe-shaped stairway, which was first built in the 16th century and then re-built for Louis XIII in the 17th, is something of a trademark of the Fontainebleau Palace. Currently it looks rather bedraggled and could use some repairs.

    Third photo: A corner of the Château.

    Fourth and fifth photos: The Château and the adjoining pond.

    Directions: Aerial view and photo on monumentum.fr
    Phone: 01 60 71 50 70
    Website: http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/spip.php?lang=en


    Next: In the Château

    Main gate Horseshoe staircase Corner of the Ch��teau Pond and Ch��teau Ch��teau from across the pond
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    In the Château

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 30, 2015

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    Since all the old furniture was removed during the French Revolution, what we see now was acquired mainly during the nineteenth century, or from antique dealers in the twentieth.

    According to the Château’s website, the interior of the Château as we see it today looks “more or less as Napoleon III and Eugenie left it in 1868, with the exception of Napoleon I’s inner apartment, which is shown as it would have been in the First Empire, and Marie Antoinette’s boudoir, which looks more or less as it would have in the 18th century.”

    Large parts of the wall and ceiling decorations from earlier centuries have survived and have been carefully cleaned and restored.

    Directions: Aerial view and photo on monumentum.fr
    Phone: 01 60 71 50 70
    Website: http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/The-sovereign-Grands-Appartements?lang=en


    Next: Tapestries

    The Fran��ois I Gallery Ballroom Ballroom Ceiling Bas-reliefs
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    Tapestries

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 28, 2015

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    The Château of Fontainebleau has several large and impressive tapestries on display, especially in the Grand Apartments of the Sovereigns.

    It took years of patient and highly skilled labor to make tapestries like these, as I found out when I toured the Gobelin manufactory in Paris in the summer of 2013. A few weeks later I had the privilege of viewing the large collection of sixteenth-century Renaissance tapestries in the Richelieu Wing of the Louvre in Paris in the company of VirtualTourist member breughel, a connoisseur of paintings and tapestries.

    Directions: Aerial view and photo on monumentum.fr
    Website: http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/Les-Grands-Appartements-des


    Next: Bedrooms

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    Bedrooms

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 28, 2015

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    As in Versailles and other royal palaces, the ceremonial bedrooms of the King and Queen are important parts of the Royal Apartments.

    In Fontainebleau, Napoléon continued this tradition while he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814.

    Second photo: Bedroom in the Sovereign Grand Apartments.

    Third photo: Anne of Austria (1601–1666), was actually a Spanish princess (not Austrian, despite the name) who was married to the French King Louis XIII when they were both fourteen years old. After several miscarriages (and years of neglect by her uninterested husband), she finally gave birth to a son, the future Louis XIV, in 1638.

    Directions: Aerial view and photo on monumentum.fr
    Website: http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/The-sovereign-Grands-Appartements?lang=en


    Next: Municipal theater

    Room of the Emperor Bedroom in the Sovereign Grand Apartments Bedroom of Anne of Austria
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    gardens of Chateau de Fontainebleau

    by gwened Updated Jan 14, 2015

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    Wonderful gardens one of my best since younger days coming over from my girlfriend now wife who is from the area. You have four areas to see, the jardin de Diane, jardin Anglais,le Grand Parterre, and the Parc.

    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

    end of parterre side left facing castle Etang des carpes or carps pond cour de la fontaine over pond and gardens other side of cour de la fontaine over gardens Parterre back on canals at Fontainebleau
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    The gardens are spectacular

    by Beausoleil Updated Jul 7, 2014

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    I must admit enjoying gardens more than mansions. The gardens at Fontainebleau are divided into several parts, but it seemed to me to be basically two sections. The first section is the very large formal French garden by the chateau. Then you cross a public road (being careful of traffic) to the larger and much more informal English Gardens that extend beyond the eye.

    Each are lovely in their own way and you will need time to enjoy them. You'll pass people having picnics or just relaxing on the grass, people enjoying guided horse and carriage rides through the gardens and local folks cutting through the gardens on their way to do errands.

    The gardens are open every day of the year so if you miss the chateau, don't miss the gardens.

    Formal French gardens Chateau from the gardens Formal French gardens Swan enjoying the English gardens
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    Ride a carriage through the gardens

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 7, 2014

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    The Attelages de la Forêt company gives 20-minute rides around the Grand Parterre and park areas in carriages drawn by two horses wearing cute crocheted bonnets and leather shoes. We didn't take one but they looked like great fun and the one that passed us had a little dog riding shotgun with the guide. He was stopping so they could take photos and giving them information. It looked well worth the 6 euros adult fare. (4 euros child)

    E-mail: attelages.foret.fontainebleau@orange.fr

    Carriage tour of Fontainebleau Carriage tour of Fontainebleau
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    Don't miss the Napoleon Museum

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 7, 2014

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    It's pretty difficult to miss anything to do with Napoleon while visiting Fontainebleau. He is a very strong presence there. The furniture was removed during the Revolution but Napoleon decided to make it his Imperial Palace and he took great pains to refurnish it in grand style.

    There are belongings of the Bonaparte family ranging from a simple tent for the battlefield to the sumptious Throne Room (not to be missed).

    Tent from the battlefield The Throne Room Napoleon's armor
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    Don't miss the chapels

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 7, 2014

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    There are three chapels in the chateau and we managed to visit two of them. The Chapel of the Trinity (built for Francis I) is accessible from two levels so you get excellent views of it. The Chapelle Haute Saint-Saturnin was only accessible from the ground floor level and it makes for a rather dramatic visit.

    There is also a Chapelle Basse Saint-Saturnin but we either didn't see it or I managed to not photograph it. A good reason to return . . .

    Chapel of the Trinity upper level Chapel of the Trinity upper level Chapel of the Trinity lower level Chapel Haute de Saint-Saturnin Chapel Haute de Saint-Saturnin
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    Visit the Chateau

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 7, 2014

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    The main reason to visit Fontainebleau is to visit the magnificent chateau. It rivals Versaille and has extensive gardens too. There is a Napoleon Museum, some self-guided tours and the chateau offers special tours of areas not normally open to the public. If you plan to do any of the special tours, you should leave early and plan a full day at the chateau. If you want to do only the self-guided tour as we did, a half day will suffice.

    The Keep dates from 1137 but most of the chateau is much newer and they feature different time periods. You'll visit the Renaissance chateau, the 17th century chateau, the 18th century chateau and even the 19th century chateau, each featuring different decor and ambience.

    The gardens are very large and freely accessible. You can rent boats on the lake and you can hire a horse and carriage which looked like great fun. If you walk out into the English Garden, you'll have the place nearly to yourselves and it is magical, just you and the swans.

    The Cour d'Honneur Chateau de Fontainebleau Cradle for the heir of Napoleon Francis I Gallery The Renaissance Rooms
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    Theater at Fontainebleau

    by gwened Written Jun 15, 2014

    This is the theater done by Napoléon III in 1857 because the old salon or salle de la Belle-Cheminée ahd burned during the work, (it was later renovated not open to public,do meetings there now) . The theater was inspired on the royal Opéra at Versailles and was place in a building of the times of king Louis XV thanks to the influence of Gabriel. It is next to the apartments that were destine to house the court. A highlight to see while visiting the castle.

    After much work of renovation the theater is open again to the public since May 3 2014 after 150 years of closing to the general public!!. Thanks to the chiek of Abou Dhabi.

    The theater was done in four levels to house 400 guests of the best of Europe. After seeing the one done by queen Marie-Antoinette,at Versailles , the impératrice Eugénie could ,also ,had her theater with is salon in ellipsical shape as that of Versailles.

    photo on a business trip personal tour.I am a friend of the castle since 1990.

    imperial Theater of Fontainebleu
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    Chateau de Fontainebleau -exteriors

    by gwened Written Apr 24, 2014

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    One of the jewels of French castles and of great historical significance. It was my first castle visited in France , long ago, married a woman from nearby. .

    On first approach from the road the size is not yet realise how big until you see it from the back. The reason it is in a semi circular formation around the place d'armes.

    The feudal Castle is only the moat and certain curtain walls remain. The Dungeon, including as early as the 16C part of the Royal apartments, presents itself as a large Tower square without buttresses, topped with a crown roof and supporting two large fireplaces laterales.Originally, the exterior masonry was made of rubble with a unit of angle curved stones. In the North wall remains a straight staircase barrel vaulted which turned into the wall and is to lead to the second floor. Traces of curtain walls of the 12C remain on the ground floor of the corps de logis. There are also traces of buildings from the 15C on the ground floor of the facades of the oval Court.

    The aile des Ministres, or ministers's wing also known as "low wing" wing, was built from 1530 and closes the Cour du cheval-blanc from the North. Built into the same unit of brick and stone that the wing facing it , it does as one floor, punctuated by curvilinear gables windows. Object of restorations and successive rebuilts until 1878, it now houses the administrative services of the Castle.

    Known as the "Royal apartments" wing was built in the 16C in the footsteps of the ancient medieval castle, which it resumed the ovalistic trace around the oval courtyard. In 1565, Catherine de Medici double the size of the building adjacent to the garden of Diane and thus multiplies the number of apartments.

    The Serlio portico overlooking the oval Court. Its construction, stone size and sandstone, originated from the same campaign of work and high and low chapels of Saint-Saturnin. Presumably the portico was built in 1531, it was prior to the arrival of Serlio in Fontainebleau. It was moved by Henri IV and was rebuilt in 1893. Replaced by a staircase inside the porch until 1767. It stands today as a triumphal arch at two levels with three arches each. Two are semicircular arches and the third is a basket handle.

    The wing of the beautiful fireplace, also known as wing of the old comedy, or l'âile de la belle cheminée, built between 1565 and 1570 with stone of Saint-Leu, takes its name from the fireplace that occupied the great Hall in the 18C. The name of old comedy comes from Theater room that Louis XV had built. First known as "the beautiful fireplace room" of 1597 to 1601, it was called "salle de spectacle" as early as 1725, on the occasion of the marriage of Louis XV; in 1856 it was destroyed by a fire.The exterior staircase has two ramps to the Italian (straight and opposing ramps); He made the link with the Cour de la Fontaine. (this is where I go for meetings of the castle , and the room of the belle cheminée is not open to the public).

    The hôtel des secrétaires d'État or house of the secretaries of State was built under the reign of king Louis XIV to house the administration while coming and going here.The jeu de paume is a building located north of the Castle. This type of construction, reserved for Royal entertainment the jeu de paume (ancestor of tennis) was common in the Royal mansions of the 17C. The jeu de paume of Fontainebleau was used primarily by King Henri IV. Built by around 1600, the jeu de paume was plagued by a fire in the 18C that destroyed it completely. It was immediately rebuilt at the same location.

    The Galerie de Diane,known as «Queen's Gallery» (it connected the apartments of the Queen and the cabinet of the Aviary), 80 meters long and 10 meters wide, was decorated first with scenes illustrating the myth of Diane, that of Apollo, and the victories of the King. During the French Revolution the Gallery of Diane became a prison in which were held, among other things, religious Trinitaires sisters. Damaged in the 19C, it was restored under Napoleon I , which suppressed the decorations of the 17C, then during the Restauration era in which its vault was decorated in the style of the painter David, by Merry-Joseph Blondel (Diane on his chariot to Endymion) and Abel de Pujol. These decorations are completed in 24 historical scenes in the "troubadour" style (including Charlemagne passes the Alps by Hippolyte Lecomte) of which 8 reached to us. It was used as a banquet room by Louis-Philippe, it is converted into library under the Second Empire, in 1858. Now containing almost 16 000 volumes gathered thanks to Guillaume Budé from 1530, it has in its Center a globe installed the Second French Empire and made previously to Napoleon I in 1810, which was to be installed at the Palais des Tuileries.

    The door of the baptistery, (porte du Baptistère) or door Dauphine, owes its name to the baptism of Louis XIII and his sisters, Elizabeth and Chrétienne, which took place on September 14, 1606, at the location of the platform. Located on the site of an old door, the bosses rustic sandstone, built in 1565 by Primaticcio and which today is the ground floor of the building, the current triumphal door has a floor in the form of arcade surmounted by a dome panels which the triangular pediment is adorned with sculptures representing two wins supporting arms of Henri IV.

    The aile Louis XV or wing replaced the wing of the Ulysse Gallery, built by François Ier, and which included the famous Gallery of 58 tables realized in the 17C. It was built by Louis XV, anxious to find new spaces. Works were undertaken from 1738 to 1741, and from 1773 to 1774, depending on availability offered by the royal Treasury.

    There are many cours or courts, and the most famous is the cour du cheval-blanc, also known as "Court of farewell" or "Court of honour" of rectangular shape, is a former backyard court service, which soon became a Court of parade. It acquired its name thanks to a casting in plaster of the statue Equestrian of Marcus Aurèle at the Capitol, installed between 1560 and 1570, missing 1626, and including a small slab in the aisle, recalls the location. The statue had been covered in 1580 of a roof to protect it from the weather.This Court was originally closed by four wings of the Castle, including the so-called West Wing "wing of Ferrara", was destroyed and replaced by a grid of honour Napoleonic decor (Eagles lead golden ornaments around the entrance gate) conducted by Hurtault in 1808.The famous staircase of Fer-à-cheval was created in 1550 by Philibert Delorme, but was rebuilt between 1632 and 1634 by Jean Androuet du Cerceau. It has an appearance similar to that of the castle of Anet, created also by Delorme.

    others cours are, Cour Ovale in the center of the castle from the old fortress that was here which was on a octogonal cour with rounded angles. It was heavily modified by king Henri IV that had it bigger and close by the porte du Baptistère. The Cour de la Fontaine (my favorite) It was surrounded by the aile des Reines-mères and the Gros pavillon, aile de la galerie François-Ier, and aile de la Belle Cheminée. The fountain facing the étang des carpes, at the extremes of the courtyard gave pure water that was reserved for the king ,and that is why two guards were on it day and night to impêde poisonning. The fontaine, was done in 1543 by Primatice, and it was decorated with a statue of Hercule by Michel-Ange. the current monument was done in 1812,and it is mounted on a statue of Ulysse, done by Petitot in 1819 and put on top of the fountain in 1824.

    Again others were, Court of des Mathurins; located north of the castle of Fontainebleau, and played the role of service as early as the 16C. Its name comes from the first inhabitants of the place, Trinitarian religious sisters, also called Mathurins. It is now converted into administrative parking. The cour des Princes or Court of the Princes (or also "Court of the Conciergerie") received its rectangular and narrow form during the gradual elevation of the wings of the Gallery of Diane, the apartments of the hunts(chasse) and the conciergerie The cour des offices or the Court of the offices or also the Court of the kitchens, built by Henri IV between 1606 and 1609, is accessible through an entrance guarded by two hermes stoneware made by Gilles Guérin in 1640. Rectangular in shape, it is closed by three wings of buildings in sandstone, brick and rubble to the sober style, punctuated with stocky pavilions.

    just gorgeous to see, a must to visit of course.

    entrance to castle of Fontainebleau the cour du cheval blanc and main building from lake back to cour de la fontaine the pavillon de l'��tang to cour de la fontaine side of the cour du cheval blanc
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    Chateau de Fontainebleau-interiors 2

    by gwened Written Dec 23, 2013

    A jewel cannot be describe in five photos or even 8 , so will do another tip sequence to post more photos of the first castle I ever visited in France,and my sentimental favorite as it is my wife's region.

    you have the wonderful shots of the chapel St Saturnin upper chamber and the dome
    follow by the inner entrance to the grands appartements or apartments, and the gallery of portraits between the petit and grand
    finally by the salon des ceramiques with wonderful illustration on dish or plates on the walls dating from Henri IV

    more in the travelogue.

    chapel of St Saturnin ceilings/dome chapel of of St Saturnin the upper dome entrance to Grands Appartements walking on gallery of the grands appartements salon des ceramiques, dish portraits
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    Museum Napoléon

    by gwened Updated Dec 23, 2013

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    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.

    weapons of the emperor imperial seal game or entertainment room dining room and table setting portrait of emperor Napol��on 1er
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    Chinese Museum or musée Chinois

    by gwened Written Oct 4, 2013

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    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

    commode in main salon of Mus��e Chinois gorgeous lamp in Chinese museum
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