Napoleon is quoted as stating: That Fontainebleau was “The true home of kings, the house of ages”, and when you visit this magnificent chateau you can understand why. A vast palace on sumptuous grounds, why wouldn't you want to retreat here?
Fontainebleau is the only chateau to have been inhabited for over seven centuries. The sumptuous 1500 plus rooms transport you through France's rich royal past. It is here that you will find the only remaining throne room which Napoleon Bonaparte had constructed.
This was his favorite retreat and after the French revolution it was he who saw to its restoration. It is from here that he gave his famous farewell speech before abdicating and his exile to Elba.
The forest of the city of Fontainebleau attracts millions of visitors each year and was a source of much sport for the kings of France during their reigns. François 1er can be credited for the chateau's transformation bringing together the Renaissance style he discovered in Italy and combining it with the French Gothic architecture. You can spot the emblem of many kings (and queens), throughout the palace. Every king who ever lived within these walls, brought his touch to the chateau which makes it today an impressive tableau of the French monarchy.
On our visit we only were able to see the Grand Apartments with the audio guide. Though I love Versailles, I have to say that Fontainebleau tops my list of my favorite chateaus in Ile-de-France. I certainly plan on going back to explore some more of this palace of kings as well as the forest.
This is a great visit to do with kids and my young escort seemed to really enjoy herself roaming about the gardens and admiring the swans and ducks as strolling through the chateau's numerous rooms. A fun family activity on any day of the week.
If you would really like to get the best out of your visit, plan a full day so you can profit of both the chateau and the gardens. Guided tours are offered however they seem to only be in French. The audio guides can be in multiple languages.
You may also be interested in our post about the Fontainebleau forest
View Château de Fontainebleau in a larger map
By Train from Paris - From the Gare de Lyon (main line), take the train for either Montargis Sens or Montereau and get out at the Fontainebleau-Avon station. You then have a bus A going to Les Lilas and get off at the Château stop. If you feel like walking it is about a 30 minute walk.
By Car - Take the A6 heading south past Paris' Porte d'Italie or Port d'Orlean and follow signs for Fontainebleau
The château is open every day except for Tuesdays, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
From October to March : 9.30am – 5pm (last admissions at 4.15pm)
From April to September : 9.30am – 6pm (last admissions at 5.15pm)
courtyards and gardens
The courtyards and gardens are open every day.
From November to February : 9am – 5pm
March, April & October : 9am – 6pm
From May to September : 9am – 7pm
Find further information on the chateau on their site
There are many cafes and restaurants just outside the château entrance many with outdoor eating. We had a lovely meal at La Petite Ardoise -16 rue Montebello 77300 Fontainebleau, France tel: 01 64 24 08 66.
The service is quick and friendly. They even produced home-made mayonnaise pour my little friend who needed three condiments for her steak frites.
Sources: Chateau de Fontainebleau, Georgianindex.net, The history place
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