Fontainebleau, France: Hunting Chateau for Kings and Queens
When my son and his pregnant wife announced they were moving to Fontainebleau, France, I was crushed. How could I bear losing him, and how could I have a relationship with my grandchildren if they were so far away? Children have always been central to my life -- my younger siblings, my own three boys, as well as the other people's children and students I have worked with -- but now that I was to have grandchildren, I would be left out.
Silly me. Of course I would be involved in their lives! Even if it is not the involvement I would have wished for, I am still their grandmother and the children know I love them to pieces. And my son and his wife and family have introduced me to France, a glorious country!
When we are able, we visit Aaron, Marianne, and the girls in their town of Fontainebleau, France, at the foot of Chateau Fontainebleau, the palace where the kings and queens, as well as Napoleon Bonaparte, got away to peruse the gardens and hunt in the immense foret de Fontainebleau, the largest forest in France.
Visiting Fontainebleau - Chateau and Forest
Where Is Fontainebleau?
Fontainebleau is located approximately 70 km southeast of Paris. You can take a train to Avon, the adjoining village to Fontainebleau, from Gare de Lyons. From the train station in Avon, a bus takes you to the centre of Fontainebleau.
You will see the chateau on your left shortly after you pass the large church (which is on the right).
Because this chateau was on the edge of the Forest Fontainebleau, the French kings and queens used it for their hunting getaway. The Chateau was occupied for 800 years. In the 16th century, Francois I (1494-1547) brought Italian artists Rosso and Primaticcio to Fontainebleau. These Italian artists added Renaissance touches to some of the rooms, including frescoes still on view.
You can take a walking tour through the "state apartments," where the visitor can observe the opulence of the royal lifestyle. You can view the bed chambers, the throne room, and all the special boudoirs designed by and for the different residents over the centuries.
Napoleon I's Private Apartments
Calling Chateau Fontainebleau "the true house of kings," Napoleon I had special private apartments renovated for himself and for Josephine, his first wife.
Eugenie, Napoleon III's wife, brought with her to the Chateau her collection of Asian art. Four drawing rooms were decorated with this collection.
These apartments are all open for public perusal every day except Tuesday. Entry is free the first Sunday of the month.
Gardens and Grounds
Fontainebleau's extensive gardens are open to the public. In these gardens, a variety of trees and flowers grace the paths. Peacocks wander freely through Diana's Garden, named after the hunting goddess whose statue is found there. You can wander through formal French gardens with their geometric trees and plots and the English gardens with their more fluid lines. There is even a maze where a child can explore.
Once you leave the grounds you can drink coffee and eat your lunch at one of the cafes at Place Napoleon Bonaparte. Just beyond the cafe umbrellas is a restored carousel where your child can ride a wild chicken or a camel.
And of course, the massive forest Fontainebleau stretches for 20,000 hectares and attracts 13 million visitors a year. If you've left your horse at home, you can rent a bicycle at La Petite Reine on rue des Sablons and ride along the lanes that transverse the forest. Alternatively, you can take a picnic lunch and join those who come to Fontainebleau's forest to boulder because of the unique rocks one can find there.
Travel Guides to Fontainebleau, France - Essential Travel Guides to Plan Your Trip
Lonely Planet are well known for creating travel guides for many places around the world. This guide will help you plan your trip to France.
Lonely Planet also makes travel guides for the food lover and the cyclist, too.
Horseshoe Stone Staircase
From the outside, the most impressive detail of the building is its stone horseshoe-shaped staircase. It was here, on the 6 of April, 1814, Napoleon said goodbye to his guard before going into exile in Elbe.
Stairs at Chateau Fontainebleau
More Chateau Fontainebleau Stairs
Animal Life in Fontainebleau's Gardens
At the edge of the carp pond in the court of the fountain people enjoy feeding the carp, the ducks and the swans their leftover dried baguettes.
By Chateau Fontainebleau: A Lovely Swan!
Fontainebleau Royal Palace - Tour Chateau Fontainebleau
Chateau de Fontainebleau - Another Chateau Fontainebleau Tour
Fontainebleau Style! - Gifts with the Flavour of Chateau Fontainebleau
Chateau Fontainebleau is famous for some of the stylistic choices of its residents. You can reproduce some of these features in your home.
Bring Diana into your home.
Videos of Chateau Fontainebleau - More Videos by Visitors to the Chateau Fontainebleau
Shopping in Fontainebleau
There's Something Wonderful about Shopping in the Markets and Tiny Shops in a French Village. Shopping for Your Daily Needs Becomes an Enjoyable Experience!
Shopping in the Town of Fontainebleau - Lots of Delicious Specialties
A Charming Place to Discover the Shops
Shopping along rue des Sablons is an experience not to be missed while visiting the town of Fontainebleau, 70 km southeast of Paris, France. Each shop along the pedestrian street is a unique gem.
Walk Along Rue des Sablons and Enjoy the Fine Shops
M. Iatrino of the fromagerie Ferme des Sablons is a man who is passionate about cheese. "A good cheese is like a mistress," he gushes as his wife rolls her eyes. A true cheese connoisseur, he knows his cheeses intimately and can describe each one's qualities in detail. Or better yet, he is only too glad to offer you a slice to taste. M. Iatrino personally makes the trek to farms all over France to choose cheeses for his shop. He will ship cheese almost anywhere.
You can recognize the best bakery in town by the long line that snakes out the door and the beautiful pastry creations showcased in the window.
Along the street you will find a specialty tea shop, a classic butcher shop, a vegetable and fruit shop, and boutiques with various specialties. Next comes the magic of a toy shop with its fanciful displays in the window. Step inside and you'll be charmed by the fine crafted offerings and the shelves of books to delight children of all ages.
Outdoor Market by the Church
Like most French towns, Fontainebleau hosts a biweekly open market with fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, cheese, honey, clothing, and of course - very French - fresh bouquets of flowers. The vendors are as colorful as their wares. You can find the open market on Tuesdays and Fridays in the parking lot between the end of rue des Sablons and the Church of St. Louis.
If you want to explore more of Fontainebleau, you can rent a bicycle at la Petite Reine on the corner and explore the town and forest to your heart's delight.
The Santa photo is available as a Christmas card on my Zazzle store.
Purchase the above photo as a card.
Santa at the Bike Shop Card by sheilamarie78* on Zazzle
Best Bakery in Fontainebleau!
Pastries from the Bakery!
French Pastries: If You Can Only Choose One, - Which Will It Be?
Please add to the list!
What is your favourite French Pastry?
A Mug with Pastries
Coffee Time/ Tea and Cakes Mug by CozyKitchen
A Visit to France Is Incomplete Without Cheese!
French Cheese: Which Is Your Favourite? - Please Add to This List: The Possibilities Are Endless!
What is your favourite kind of French cheese?
Fish at Fontainebleau's Market
Perusing Fontainebleau, France's Market -- What's That?!
If you have never been to Fontainebleau, what is your favourite French food?
Fresh Flowers from Fontainebleau's Market
Veggies at Fontainebleau's Market
Bouldering in Foret Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau Forest Is a Popular Bouldering Spot
People Travel a Long Way to Climb Fontainebleau's Boulders
Have you heard of the sport of bouldering? Bouldering means climbing boulders instead of mountains.
Le Foret Fontainebleau has some strange-looking rocks. Some look like elephants without trunks. Some look like other living creatures.
There are many people who enjoy climbing up these rocks. The strange shapes allow for fairly good footholds. Take a look at some of these videos if you want to see how it's done.
© 2010 Sheilamarie