Paris is a magical city with much to see but today I would like to venture outside its walls with you. Past the city limits, far out to the forest! For many centuries ago Fontainebleau was the royal hunting lodge, that the great Emperor Napoleon fell in love with.
For the longest time the château was far removed from the busy city of Paris. King Louis XIV would head there to hunt and get away from the stress of royal court. Now there is a small but busy town built up around it. No doubt because of the amount of tourists that pour in each day to take a stroll through the phenomenal gardens or peek into the past as they check out the carefully decorated rooms.
In a country as old as France you need to pick the time periods you are most interested in and go with them. Otherwise you will get overwhelmed with kings and châteaus. I never thought Napoleon would be a focus of mine but after I read about Fontainebleau I knew I had to see it for myself. The train ride is just a short 30 minutes outside of Paris.
What can I say about this place that hasn’t already been said? Don’t buy the coffee, 3.50 Euro a cup! The Grand Apartments are smaller then I had thought they would be but more lavish then I could have imagined. The tapestries, which more often cover the entirety of the walls, are intricate in every design.
I have to say no matter how cliché it is , my favorite room is the Throne Room. The last existing one France! The blue and gold throne sits high in the middle of the room proves how tiny Napoleon was because it is doubtful I’d fit comfortably in it.
Although it is amazing to be able to walk the halls where so many famous historical characters have, I would have to say the grounds are the most impressive part. It is necessary to spend a few hours just walking around them. After spending about 2 hours inside the château itself we took a much needed lunch break before tackling the gardens. We sat in a small brasserie adjacent to the château, enjoyed a wonderful piece of cake and a (much cheaper) espresso and people watched.
We then headed back onto the grounds.
When you walk in everything is green. It was already mid October when we went but it did not effect the colors. Small lakes surrounded by perfectly sculpted gardens. When you make your way around the back of the building you see exactly how much land it covers. Long lakes shaded by trees. Worn out statues representing the glory days of this château. You can almost imagine Napoleon himself taking his strolls around. In the back there is a stone courtyard that over looks a large round lake filled with giant fish and an array of ducks.
We sat in the sun and watched all the people walk through the tree lined paths and the fish make their way around the swans.
If you are looking for a wonderful day trip, this is the place. Less crowded and smaller then the famous Versailles it is a wonderful way to spend a day. I recommend going here before you go to Versailles. A great introduction into the splendid luxory that was the royalty of France.
Have you ever been to Fontainebleau? Does Napoleon intrigue you?