ornate gates to Fontainebleau
We loved Fontainebleau even more than Versailles for one major reason (the title may have given it away): no queues.
Fontainebleau was the official hunting lodge of the French Royal Family. Apparently it was originally a log cabin in the swamplands. Those days are long gone however, and in scale and in decor it now rivals Versailles, with many wings built around courtyards, long galleries and elaborate interior decoration. The French royals had no fear of adding patterns to patterns, gilding anything that didn’t move and painting scenes in any spare piece of flat wall or ceiling. Even the bedrooms are a riot of colour, detail and gilding – quite how one slept in there is difficult to imagine.
The forest of Fontainebleau remains, albeit considerably smaller than previous centuries, and apparently is home to many endangered species. I have to say in the time we were in France we saw very few wild animals – one rabbit, one baby deer and a couple of pheasants is about it. Coming from Australia where our wildlife unfortunately wander out onto the road, and where walking through a national park would undoubtedly bring you into contact with native animals, even if only snakes and lizards, this was really noticeable. Anyway, I digress.
The château is, as with most of these monumental buildings, the work of many generations. The original structure was built in the 16th century by Francis I. It is located about 55km from the centre of Paris and is easily accessible, although parking can be a problem.
We didn’t have time to explore the gardens here, but the château itself is magnificent. The electronic talking guide is worth the effort, so that you understand the history of the amazing pieces on display – Napoleon’s baby carriage, uniforms and field kits, for instance. The stories behind each piece are out of the history books.
We really enjoyed being able to see everything, not being rushed through, and have the peace and quiet to contemplate the surroundings and atmosphere of the château. And not having to queue to get in. However, it isn’t Versailles – Versailles does have that particular place in French history.
Hope you like lots of photos! (And there are more links to some other postings about our trip to France at the bottom of the page)
carved ceiling detail in the entrance
Guess who? Yes, Napoleon's coat and hat.
some of Napoleon's possessions
Napoleon's field kit
gorgeous funriture that I want in my home.....
view of the front of the Chateau from the first floor
elaborate gilded ceiling
view across the rear lower terrace from the ground floor
view across gardens and lakes from the ground floor
pannelled walls and stools for courtiers
elaborate stone carving on the wall. The central piece represents the salamander, the emblem of the royal family, said to be able to survive fire.
view of one of the courtyards from an upper floor
interior balcony for the royal family in the Chapel
view over the gardens at the back of the Chateau
another of the internal courtyards
elaborate painted ceiling
elaborate gilded ceilings
elaborate carved and gilded ceiling
the famous library at Fontainebleau
another view of the library showing more of the ceiling
stools for the courtiers and supplicants
in the chapel
in the chapel
gate down the road from Chateau Fontainebleau - appears to be a private residence
Want more photos of France? Here are a few more….
Arrival in Paris
Caves of Lascaux
Standing Stones of Carnac
Les Grottos en France
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
Streets of Paris
Arc de Triomphe
The troglodytes of Maison Fort de Reignac