Fontaine-what? Fontainebleau – literally the beautiful fountain. Or the fountain found by a dog, called Bliau. Or maybe it was its master’s name. We’re not sure – which is not surprising, since the castle’s dates back to 1137 ; older than the Louvre in Paris. But don’t let that date fool you : what makes Fontainebleau special is not how old it is, but that it was the home of 34 kings and 2 emperors. Here’s what you can look forward to seeing in what Napoleon called “the true home of the kings”
To see the most beautiful Renaissance rooms in France
Fontainebleau is where the French Renaissance thrived under kings Francis I and Henri II, whose gallery and ballrooms we can still admire today. What’s so special about those? The combination of wood, stucco and fresco – see below.
To learn all there is to know about Napoleon
Louis XIV had Versailles, so Napoleon had to find another place suited to his ambitions. He’s the ruler most linked to Fontainebleau, where his dreams were crushed and he had to give up power here. Walk down the famous stairs where Napoleon gave his famous parting speech to his closest and most faithful soldiers.
To experience an incredible variety of decorative styles
You know kings & emperors, if there’s one thing they like, it’s home decoration. So if you put 40 rulers in the same location for over 870 years, that’s going to leave a lot of traces, from Rococo to Baroque and full-on classicism. Here’s an example of 1 room, out of the almost-2000 rooms the castle contains.
To walk in one of the best examples of French formal gardens
Fontainebleau displays over 300 acres of park and gardens, and prides itself on having the largest parterre in Europe, even bigger than Versailles. Don’t like French gardens? That’s okay, there’s also a beautiful English garden if that’s more your style. We’ll show you both, you be the judge on what looks better.
To be alone – or almost – to enjoy its treasures
Despite all of its wonders, Fontainebleau has 15 times less visitors that Versailles. It’s unfair – and you should make the most of it. It’s an hour away from Paris, and you can also use that opportunity to visit other great places in the area : Vaux-le-Vicomte, Provins, etc.
See you soon anyway!
Fontainebleau is accessible by train, to be taken from the gare de Lyon train station to the Avon train station ; a 20 minutes bus ride brings you to the castle. By car, Fontainebleau is only an hour and a half away by car from Paris ; the whole tour we offer is a 5-hours round-trip. Book here: Fontainebleau & Vaux-le-Vicomte Day Trip from Paris from Paris – My Private Paris