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  • October 2019

reviewed by YerocRis from France

Chateau de Fontainebleau

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Why you will love it?

A fabulous French Renaissance chateau chalked full of paintings, statues and furniture collected throughout the centuries by the rulers that called this château home. Amazing gardens, courtyards and one of France’s favorite forests. Need we say more? Enjoy! Parisianist.

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About this place

Place du Général de Gaulle - Fontainebleau
Line 1/14 - Gare de Lyon
Line A/D - Gare de Lyon

Wednesday : 9:30 am - 17:00 pm
more less
Monday : 9:30 am - 17:00 pm Tuesday : 9:30 am - 17:00 pm Wednesday : 9:30 am - 17:00 pm Thursday : 9:30 am - 17:00 pm Friday : 9:30 am - 17:00 pm Saturday : 9:30 am - 17:00 pm Sunday : 9:30 am - 17:00 pm

Our Insiders' Article


Château de Fontainebleau is the only royal residence that has housed rulers for over 8 centuries. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this Renaissance château has seen births, baptisms, weddings and deaths of dozens of French and European royalties. No wonder it was referred to as the “house of ages” by Napoleon.


Château de Fontainebleau lays 60km to the south of Paris and is easily accessible by car (45 mn) or public transportation. There are plenty of trains linking Paris (Gare de Lyon) to Fontainebleau city, and the clearly indicated bus will take you to the chateau hassle-free. Shuttle busses, with guide, also depart daily from Paris for approximately 75€ per person.


A medieval castle, home of previous French kings since 1137, originally stood on the grounds of Fontainebleau. But in 1528, King François I has other plans… His imprisonment in Madrid by great rival Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, lead François I to leave his former residence in Blois and settle closer to Paris. To satisfy his ambitious project to create the “New Rome,” he decided to destroy most of the medieval castle and give birth to the capital of French Renaissance architecture: Château de Fontainebleau


Backed up by a colossal fortune, François I invited the most influential Italian artists to come design and decorate his residence. He collected sculptures, objects and paintings (including the Mona Lisa) that would influence French art in the 16th century (Ecole de Fontainebleau).

Parisianist Fun Fact: François I even bought moulds of famous Italian sculptures to be able to reproduce them in bronze in France.


Prestige best describes François I’s château: from the art collection and the grand library to the distinguished guests staying here (including rival and gaoler Charles V himself), Château de Fontainebleau never ceased to amaze. Although the kings of France throughout the centuries would officially reside elsewhere (the Louvre, Versailles…), Château de Fontainebleau was far from ignored. Each king would add his own personal touch to either the outside architecture or the inside décor. Louis XIII brought the unique horseshoe staircase, while Henri IV greatly enlarged the château.


Although the château was looted during the French Revolution in the 1790’s, it miraculously survived the anti-royalty destruction madness of the revolutionaries. Napoleon brings life back to Château de Fontainebleau in 1804 with the decision to house his court here. Important political decisions are made in the château, one being to arrange a private apartment for Pope Pius VII, held captive for 19 months due to political disagreements with the French Emperor.

Parisianist Fun Fact: the last king of France, Louis-Philippe, was almost assassinated in the gardens here.


Napoleon III lived in Château de Fontainebleau and remains the last leader to have lived here. Interior decoration changes were made during that time, but the 1964-1968 restorations made it the château it is today, welcoming more that 450 000 visitors per year. There are 1530 rooms in the château, and 4 museums: the Empress’ Chinese Museum (Napoleon II’s wife Eugénie collected Chinese objects), the Napoleon I museum, the Painting Gallery and the Furniture Gallery.


One of the interior architectural highlights of Château de Fontainebleau is the François I Gallery. This was a showcase for Renaissance art, and served as a model for the Apollo Gallery in the Louvre and the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.

Parisianist Fun Fact: It is believed that King François I kept the key to the gallery around his neck and let only the distinguished guests inside. The other beautiful galleries are the Diana Gallery and the Gallery of Stags.


Thanks to the efforts of the residents of the château after its looting at the end of the 18th century, all the rooms are decorated and furnished with ancient furniture, giving it a warm and welcoming feel. Be it the Royal Apartments, the Papal Apartment or the Guest Apartment for the Court of Napoleon III, this opulent and refined decors can’t be missed.

Parisianist Fun Fact: There are close to 40 000 pieces of ancient furniture in the château.


There are 3 chapels in the château. The oldest is the Chapel of the Trinity, formally an old 12th century church re-annexed to the château at the early stage of construction. The chapel then underwent several changes throughout the years and was finished at the turn of the 17th century, therefore prefiguring the baroque style. It’s impressive architecture and frescos on the walls will surely leave you breathless. 


French and English style gardens are visible at the château, not to mention the Fontainebleau forest, a favourite spot for local rock climbers. The Grand Parterre, the largest formal garden in Europe, created in 1664 by André LeNôtre and Louis LeVau, is the most impressive garden of the chateau. There are also 5 courtyards, the oldest one being the Oval courtyard.

Parisianist Fun Fact: the entrance to Château de Fontainebleau is through the Court of Honor, also called the “Court des Adieux” (Farewell Court). In 1814, Napoleon bid farewell to the Republican Guard here before being deported to the island of Elba.


So many rooms, so many objects, so much history! Are you thinking this is more than you can handle? Not to worry. The Château de Fontainebleau is not overwhelming and easily manageable to visit in a half day. The chateau also proposes an entertaining discovery of its premises for kids (ask at the entrance).

Parisianist Tip: Take a late morning train to Fontainebleau, have lunch in the village and then visit the château before heading back to Paris for dinner.

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