Do make it a point to join a guided tour for an insight look at how the Kings & Queens of France used to live. Then you'll understand how/why the French Revolution started....
So, our first stop inside this grand palance is the gorgeous Queen's Chamber. If this were my bedroom, I would never, ever want to get out of bed...! Not even for US$10,000. ;-)
That's me on the palace grounds. By the way, do you know that Fontainbleau had the noblest garden in all of France?
It was made for a King, Francois I (yes, him again), who wished to rival the great courts of Italy. Though the old knots and statuary have gone, enough of the 1528-1547 layout survives to give one a sense of how gardens were arranged in sixteenth century France.
The impressive and opulent Sitting Room of Saint Louis drew gasps from the tour group...
Whilst browsing around this room, squint your eyes to the statue of Henry IV resting on the marbled mantelpiece. Please ensure that you give yourself lots of free time to just browse through the many treasured monuments found inside this amazing chateau... All the treasured monuments belonging to a bygone era.
A visit to the castle of Fontainebleau is worth the stop or, when one is staying at the local campground, the detour. The many visitors lining up to visit every day might be a set back, but the gardens provide an equally grand experience for the guests who dislike standing in line for an extended period of time. Starting from the castle a horse drawn carriage makes tours through the surrounding park.
During revolution the palace was plundered, but Napoleon chose it as the residence and completely restored its furniture. They speak, that Napoleon could not live in Versailles as its luxury suppressed him. He liked modest and tiny palace in Fontenblou more.
The exposition of the museum is devoted to the emperor and his family. Sculptural and painted portraits, the weapon, awards, personal things and documents tell us about ceremony of coronation, the military companies of the emperor, his private life. The museum occupies the first and the second floors of half of the building of the palace.
The chapel of the Sacred Trinity settled down in a gallery of the palace. There are apartments of Napoleon at the ground floor (a throne hall, a boardroom, Maria Antoinette's room, a hall of Lui the Thirteenth, a hall of Lui the Ninth Sacred, a ballroom) .
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.
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.
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.
In his maturity, Francois I had LeBreton tear down and rebuild the hunting lodge at Fontainebleau, replacing it with a linked multi structured palace(1527-30). Connecting the two main units was a Gallery within which he affirmed his love of Renaissance Art as he had encountered it in Italy. His first attempt had been in bringing the aging Leonardo to live in Amboise, thwarted by Leonardo’s demise. Now with a Michelangelo disciple, he would try again. The Cour du Cheval Blanc, the large open area through which one enters leads to a horseshoe staircase (escalier du fer-a-cheval) (by du Cerveau, 1534) that leads to the first level of the 2-story building. Later in the tour when out back we will see the Golden Entrance (1528) which looks out on the Grand Parterre and Round Basin which contains a moss-covered statue of the Tiber and the stairs entering the Fountain Courtyard (the back-door).Rosso Fiorentino's work is inside.
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).
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.