Paris

Castle of Fontainebleau

Nestled in the magnificent forest of Fontainebleau, the château will enchant you with its beauty, making it one of the most beautiful in all of France and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nestled in the magnificent forest of Fontainebleau, 20,000 hectares in size, the château will enchant you with its beauty, making it one of the most beautiful in all of France and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Its medieval origins have been almost completely superseded by the successive renovations and extensions that the various sovereigns have requested over the centuries.

With its 1,500 rooms, it retains its charm rich in art and history: it has preserved its furnishings almost intact and boasts decorations, frescoes, bas-reliefs, ancient fireplaces and original tapestries. You can take a journey through time and history.

Things to do at Fontainebleau Castle

The Château de Fontainebleau is located only 60 km from Paris and can be an ideal day trip during your stay in the French capital. At the same time, for those planning a trip to discover the Loire châteaux or a tour of the Burgundy or Champagne countryside, the château can become a strategic approach stop.

Fontainebleau is really big and it takes a long time to visit it all. It is the only castle inhabited by all the sovereigns from the 12th to the 19th century, and the best furnished of the French royal castles. With over 1,500 rooms, it houses Renaissance masterpieces commissioned by François I, the richly decorated interiors of Marie Antoinette, the state flat of Napoleon I, and the favourite styles of Napoleon III and Eugenie. Used as a royal residence for hunting and getting away from political and social life, the chateau is a glimpse into court life and tells us about the more intimate side of the monarchs.

If you choose the unguided tour of the castle, you can visit the Napoleon I Museum and the Grands Appartements. The Imperial Theatre, the Petits Appartements, Madame de Maintenon’s flats and the Turkish Boudoir can only be seen on guided tours. Instead, an additional ticket is required for admission to the Chinese Museum.

The grand flats of the kings

The great flats of the monarchs occupy the first floor of the château, the main floor dedicated to pageantry, ceremonies, court life and the public display of power.

Emblematic for its importance, the François I Gallery is the most sumptuous Renaissance room in the castle of Fontainebleau. Designed by the Italian painter Rosso Fiorentino, it was the first time a gallery was created that combined an extraordinary abundance of carved wood panels, putti, fruit and stucco blocks to form a large frame around frescoed and painted segments.

The successive renovations of these flats, from the Renaissance to the 19th century, tell us how this palace was lived in, invested in and decorated.

The Napoleon I Museum

Very close to the Cour d’Honneur where Napoleon I greeted his Old Guard on 20 April 1814, there is now a museum entirely dedicated to the First Empire (1804-1814).

Bringing together an exceptional collection of furniture, artefacts, paintings, sculptures, weapons, costumes and ceramics, this museum with more than 500 works is entirely dedicated to Napoleon I and his ten-year reign. Inaugurated in 1986 in the Louis XV wing of the castle, where the Military Academy of Fontainebleau was once housed, in the museum’s 10 rooms you will discover the Napoleonic era, his journey from his coronation in 1804 to his abdication at Fontainebleau in April 1814.

The small flats

Far from the great reception rooms on the first floor, used for public life, the monarchs created more intimate and comfortable spaces, reserved for the pleasures and entertainment of a select few.

The Petits Appartements reveal a different aspect of the monarchs’ lives. Dating back to the reign of Louis XV, who installed a series of small rooms for his own private use, the Petits Appartements responded to Napoleon I’s desire to renovate these 24 rooms in their entirety and create ‘ordinary’ flats comprising reception rooms, a bedroom, a library and a map room.

A mahogany staircase and internal passageways connect these rows of elegant and private rooms, where the monarchs found everything they needed.

The Empress Eugenie’s Chinois Museum

Famous and priceless, the Chinese drawing rooms and museum refurbished for Eugenie in 1863 house exceptional Far Eastern collections displayed by the empress. Some of these treasures come from the imperial storehouse, some were acquired by Napoleon III and Eugenie, and others come from the looting of the Summer Palace in Peking by the Franco-British expeditionary force in 1860.

Diplomatic gifts from the Siamese Embassy, received by the emperor, added to this profusion of unusual and curious porcelain, jade and Buddhist ritual objects.

The gardens of Fontainebleau

Set in a 130-hectare estate, the various buildings that make up the château are spread over four main courtyards, three gardens and a park.

The surprisingly diverse range of shapes, colours and buildings, reflecting the tastes of the different eras in which they were built, made an English visitor declare that Fontainebleau was like visiting a team of palaces. The harmony that nevertheless emerges from this union is the result of the monarchs’ desire to continue in the same vein as their predecessors.

This succession of architectural styles also unfolds in the gardens, which were completely redesigned during the 19th century: the Diana garden and the English garden were designed in the style of English gardens. The classic Grand Parterre by André Le Nôtre (1660-1664), with its 14 hectares of French-style gardens, offers a totally different experience in terms of space and perspective. Beyond the Bassin des Cascades, there is a long park that Henry IV’s Grand Canal cuts through its entire length.

The Forest of Fontainebleau

If you have an extra day at your disposal, we recommend staying and exploring the Forest of Fontainebleau, a green lung on the outskirts of Paris and a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature.

You can choose from a variety of open-air activities that will allow you to discover every corner of the forest: you can rent a bicycle, go horseback riding, go rock climbing or walk through the Gorges d’Apremont or Gorges de Franchard.

How to get there

The Château de Fontainebleau is easily accessible by various means, starting from Paris, only 60 km away.

From Paris, take the A6 motorway from Porte d’Orléans or Porte d’Italie and exit directly at Fontainebleau. From here, follow the direction Fontainebleau and then the signs for Château.

If you do not have a car at your disposal, you can take a regional train at Paris Gare de Lyon station in the direction of Montargis Sens or Montereau: the stop is at Fontainebleau-Avon station. From here, take the bus line A towards Les Lilas to the La poste – château stop.

Tickets

To visit the Château de Fontainebleau, you can buy a single entrance ticket or a pass that includes it.

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You can watch all the period dramas you like, but Keira Knightley and co can't get close to what it must have _really_ been like at Château de Fontainebleau. This sovereign residence for eight centuries was home to all manner of pomp and circumstance.

Organised tours

Alternatively, if you can’t or don’t want to hire a car, you can take part in organised tours departing from the centre of Paris.

Useful information

Address

77300 Fontainebleau, France

Contacts

TEL: +33 1 60 71 50 70

Timetables

  • Monday: 09:30 - 17:15
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 09:30 - 17:15
  • Thursday: 09:30 - 17:15
  • Friday: 09:30 - 17:15
  • Saturday: 09:30 - 17:15
  • Sunday: 09:30 - 17:15

Where is located Castle of Fontainebleau

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