UNESCO Chateau de Fontainebleau virtual tour (Ile-de-France)

This article first appeared on My Travelogue by Bhushavali

A DAY TRIP FROM PARIS
to one of the
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN FRANCE

As I mentioned in the last article, I planned my stay in Paris recently in order to go on 3 different day trips from Paris. One was the day trip to Provins and another was a half-day trip to Fontainebleau. Why half-day? Well, I went from Brussels to Paris and then, directly headed to Fontainbleau immediately, so it was almost noon by then. 

Chateau de Fontainebleau UNESCO France


Chateau de Fontainebleau Ballroom UNESCO France
Ball room

Napoleon Bonaparte by François Gérard Chateau de Fontainebleau

Chateau de Fontainebleau Napoleon I Museum
Napoleon I Museum

Chateau de Fontainebleau Napoleon I Museum
Napoleon I Museum

Chateau de Fontainebleau Napoleon I Museum
Napoleon I Museum

CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU HISTORY, IMPORTANCE & WHY IS CHATEAU DE FONTAINBLEAU A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE?
Chateau de Fontainbleau is one of the oldest castle palaces in France. It has been the home of several French royals since 12th C CE. The current architecture is majorly credited to François I, who wanted to make it 'New Rome', in the 16th C CE. It was initially a hunting lodge in the 12th C CE. This architectural & artistic masterpiece is a beautiful blend of Italian Renaissance & French artistic traditions which is why it was inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France in 1981.

WHY IS CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU POPULAR?
It shot to importance when Napoleon Bonaparte made it his home after French Revolution. The most iconic aspect of the Chateau de Fontainbleau is the majestic Horse Shoe Staircase which Napoleon Bonaparte, climbed enthusiastically in 1804 to begin his reign and in 1814, slowly climbed down after signing his abdication. 

VIRTUAL TOUR OF CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU

As soon as I entered Chateau de Fontainebleau, the first thing I saw was the majestic Horseshoe Staircase that has recently been renovated. It is quite a sight! Before heading towards the Horseshoe Staircase I spotted the Tiny Train that takes you on a tour through the gardens (this is payable separately), but I chose to visit the Palace first and headed towards the ticketing office.

NAPOLEON MUSEUM INSIDE CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU
The audio-guided tour began first with the Napolean I Museum. It is a museum about the First Empire 1804 -1814.  These few rooms are dedicated to various artifacts & belongings of Napoleon Bonaparte including furniture, clothing, weapons, china, silverware, etc in the 10 years of his reign. One of the rooms is also dedicated to a Military Tent. A lot of it reminded me much of the Lion's Mound in Waterloo and Napoleon Bonaparte's Last Headquarters near it! There was the iconic painting of Napoleon Bonaparte by François Gérard which also I saw at Memorial 1815 in Waterloo (however the original painting is at Chateau de Versailles). 

Chateau de Fontainebleau New Diana Gallery
New Diana Gallery

bedchamber of Queen Eleanor of Austria Francis I Salon Chateau de Fontainebleau
Bedchamber of Queen Eleanor of Austria / Francis I Salon

The Empress' Bedchamber Chateau de Fontainebleau
The Empress' Bedchamber

Louis XIII Salon Chateau de Fontainbleau
Louis XIII Salon

Plate Gallery Chateau de Fontainebleau
Plate Gallery

Royal Chapel Trinity Chateau de Fontainebleau
Royal Chapel Trinity

CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU ROOMS & GARDENS

19th CENTURY GALLERIES AT CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU
After the initial few rooms, it was time to go upstairs. There are 3 major rooms in the 19th C Galleries of Chateau de Fontainebleau - The Gallery of Splendors, The Plate Gallery, and The New Diana Gallery. The Gallery of Splendors is filled with several, several paintings & artworks from Renaissance to the Napoleonic Era. The Plate Gallery was perhaps the one that Atyudarini liked the most. It is not a showcase of porcelain ware, but 128 chinaware plates have been embedded into the wall, like a wall-art; plus, each and every plate had a different landscape painted on it, making the whole room very very unusual... The ceiling is filled with 21 pieces of Oil on Plaster paintings moved here from Diana Gallery during renovation. 

THE QUEEN'S ROYAL APARTMENTS AT CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU
Our audio-guided tour of Chateau de Fontainebleau took us next to the Queen's Apartments which was perhaps the most grandiose set of rooms in the whole palace. It began with the Tapestry Room which was originally the Queen's Guard Room. As the name suggests, the room has 2 humongous tapestries of 17th C CE, decorated with gold! 
The next rooms were the Bedchambers of Queen Anne of Austria and Queen Eleanor of Austria. Everything in these rooms was so so so mindblowing, absolute opulence, ideal examples of what royalty means, such splendor, just wow - everything from the wallpaper to the ceiling design to the sculptures to the textiles to the woodwork, everything!!! The Bedchamber of Queen Anne of Austria was later converted as Pope's Apartment at Chateau de Fontainebleau. This was followed by the Reception Room & the Antichamber. 

RENAISSANCE ROOMS AT CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU
Ever since François I, all the various rulers of the region, did their bit to make Chateau de Fontainebleau all the more gorgeous and decorative, and our next stop was François I Gallery. This passage was just emblematic Renaissance filled with so many paintings, each surrounded by rolled leather and stucco motifs of fruits & greenery, and a ceiling of carved wood paneling, designed by Rosso Fiorentino in 1530 CE.

Military Tent Napoleon Bonaparte Chateau de Fontainebleau
Military Tent of Napoleon Bonaparte

'Goddess of Nature' by Niccolo Tribolo Chateau de Fontainebleau

Chateau de Fontainebleau UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Chandelier Chateau de Fontainebleau UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Frescoes at Chateau de Fontainebleau UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Frescoes at Chateau de Fontainebleau UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

The next Renaissance Room is the Ball Room which is again, so magical that Disneyland in Paris itself has created & places 2 mannequins depicting Alexander and Thalestris! I'd say this is the most important room in Chateau de Fontainebleau. It is filled with frescoes everywhere made in 16th C CE by Nicolo dell’Abbate under the direction of Primatice during the reign of Henri II. The ceiling is again gilded paneled wood. Just outside this room, I saw this sculpture titled 'Goddess of Nature' by Niccolo Tribolo. It depicts a woman holding up her hair having 8 br*asts in all directions and babies clinging to them! That was quite something and really reminded me of my breastfeeding days!!!

19th CENTURY GALLERIES AT CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU AGAIN
After passing through Saint Louis Rooms & Louis XIII Salon, the next room is the 3rd of the 3 rooms called the 19th C Galleries - The New Diana Gallery houses a library with 16000 works that once belonged to Napoleon's uncle. Obviously, to protect the books, this room isn't open for us to visit, but can be seen from one end.

THE QUEEN'S ROYAL APARTMENTS AT CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU AGAIN
Next to this is the Empress' Bedchamber and it had been the bedroom of all the wives of the kings who lived in Fontainebleau. Just like the other rooms of the Queen's Royal Apartments, this too, or rather, more so than the rest, showcase absolute opulence, royalty, and splendor. The very majestic bed dates back to the time of Marie Antoinette but she never used it; it was later used by Empress Josephine. The railing just next to the bed is a symbolism that denotes the bedchamber is a private space of the Empress. 

THE KING'S ROYAL APARTMENTS AT CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU
The next room is obviously the King's Bedchamber, but it isn't anymore! Napoleon Bonaparte made it his Throne Room!!! However, the original marble paneling and gilded bronze ornamentations still exist. 

Disneyland Paris costumes in Chateau de Fontainebleau
Disneyland Paris costumes of Alexander and Thalestris

Royal Chapel Trinity Chateau de Fontainebleau
Royal Chapel Trinity

Tapestry Room Chateau de Fontainebleau
Tapestry Room

Emperor's Bedroom Throne Room Chateau de Fontainebleau
Throne Room / Emperor's Bedroom

Antechamber Chateau de Fontainebleau
Antichamber

The Cour Ovale Chateau de Fontainebleau
The Cour Ovale

THE ROYAL CHAPEL OF THE TRINITY
After the Throne Room, we were back downstairs for the Royal Chapel of the Trinity before heading out. Though this is just a chapel, this had as much Royal as it can be filled with Frescoes, Stucco artwork, gilded panels, and more. In the reign of François Ist, this was the convent of Trinitaires, and its current structure was built under Henry IV. This Royal Chapel of Trinity is where Louis XV married Marie Leczinska in 1725 and Napoléon III was baptized on the knees of his uncle Napoléon I in 1810.

CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU GARDENS
There are quite a few gardens inside Chateau and the best part is the gardens of Chateau de Fontainebleau are free to visit, without a ticket! That is exactly why, the Tiny Train that we spotted first was separately ticketed which takes you through these gardens.
Almost as soon as you entered are the English Garden to the right and Diana Garden to the left. We didn't have much time to explore the two. After visiting the interiors of the palace, we came out and headed to the Carp Pond. As the name suggests it is filled with Carp fishes and Atyudarini loved to just sit here and watch & pet the fishes!!! There's also an option to go boating in this pond. 
Right here, is the Cour de la Fontaine. There's a nice restaurant here with a view of the pond. We had some coffee here and headed down to The Park and we spotted the Horse Drawn Carriages which take you on a round in the park. We walked towards the fountain called Cascade Basin and then went further ahead to get a view of the long Channel. 

CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU TICKETS
It is very much advisable to buy Chateau de Fontainebleau tickets online via the official website of Chateau de Fontainebleau.
Chateau de Fontainebleau tickets: €13
Free entry to Chateau de Fontainebleau for all under 18 yrs of age (and EU residents under 26 yrs of age)! 
The gardens of Chateau de Fontainebleau are always free for all.
Chateau de Fontainebleau is included in Paris Museum Pass as well as Visit Paris Pass.

CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU TIMINGS
Wed-Mon: 9:30AM to 5:00PM (till 6:00PM during Apr to Sept).
Last entry 45m before closure.

Chateau de Fontainebleau UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Cour de la Fontaine Chateau de Fontainebleau
Cour de la Fontaine

Chateau de la Fontainebleau UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Chateau de la Fontainebleau Horse Carriage

Chateau de la Fontainebleau The Tiny Train

Chateau de la Fontainebleau UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
Channel & The Carp Pond

HOW TO VISIT CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU FROM PARIS
Chateau de Fontainebleau is an easy weekend trip/day trip from Paris. Chateau de Fontainbleau comes under Ile-de-France region which means the public transport here is served by Transilien. There's a direct train from Paris Gare-de-Lyon (just beside Gare du Nord) to Fontainebleau-Avon. 
Fontainebleau-Avon comes under Zone 5 of Transilien (Ile-de-France Mobilities (RATP)). If you have a Visit Paris Pass Zone 1-5 you can directly go. If not, you need to get the ticket at the ticket counters or automated kiosks in the railway station. Within the region, the ticket prices are not dynamic and the price is always €5. It is also possible to buy a 10-ticket booklet for €40 which makes sense if you're a group of 4-5 people or you're planning other day trips from Paris in the Ile-de-France region like Chateau de Versailles or Provins etc.
The good part is, that it is possible to just buy the tickets earlier (even a month earlier!), because the validity of the ticket begins when you validate it and not when you buy it.
There's no way to book an online ticket and get on the train (which is a bit unfortunate!). If you have/are getting a Navigo pass, you can load the ticket in it at the kiosk. Unfortunately, it cannot be loaded in your Navigo app on your phone.
How to reach Chateau de Fontainbleau from Fontainebleau-Avon Railway Staion: From Fontainebleau-Avon railway station, Chateau de Fontainebleau is about 3km away. It is of course possible to walk this distance. Transilien Bus Route 1 from Fontainebleau-Avon railway station drops you directly in front of the castle. The nearest bus stop to the castle are Château / Coeur des Adieux and Bibliothèque. This journey takes about 20-25 minutes.

TIPS TO VISIT CHATEAU DE FONATAINEBLEAU
Chateau de Fontainbleau has a fantastic locker room that includes some very large lockers that can fit in 2 cabin-sized suitcases! This gave us the confidence to directly head to the Chateau from the railway station without checking in at the hotel.
If you have kids with you, it is a good idea to bring a wagon or stroller or kids scooter, because the gardens are so so big that it would be difficult for them to walk around.
There are good toilets & diaper-changing areas in the palace.
There is a small restaurant close to the Carp Pond and there are quite a few kiosks with snacks all over the area.
Chateau de Fontainebleau is one of the most Instagrammable locations in Ile-de-France, so consider visiting as early as possible in the morning to avoid crowds in your Instagram shots!

Things to do in Fontainbleau Daytrip Weekend Trip
© Fontainebleau Tourisme

Things to do in Fontainbleau Daytrip Weekend Trip
© Fontainebleau Tourisme

Things to do in Fontainbleau Daytrip Weekend Trip
© Fontainebleau Tourisme

Things to do in Fontainbleau Daytrip Weekend Trip
© Fontainebleau Tourisme

OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN FONTAINEBLEAU TOWN
Apart from the Chateau de Fontainebleau, there are a few other things to do in Fontainebleau. That is why Fontainebleau is good to visit at least on a full day trip or even two days. 
The most important of the places to visit in Fontainebleau, apart from the Chateau de Fontainebleau is the Forests of Fontainebleau. To begin with, the Chateau de Fontainebleau began as a Hunting Lodge, so obviously, this is surrounded by the ancient forest of Bière divided into the Forest of Trois Pignons and the Forest of Fontainebleau. These forests are filled with deciduous and softwood trees and cover an area of about 20,000 hectares. The best of it all, it is a part of the UNESCO Biosphere reserve. 
There are several routes for hiking, biking, donkey & horse riding all over the forests. Here is the guide from the official website of Fontainebleau Tourisme.

FONTAINEBLEAU-AVON ITINERARY
How much time do you need to visit Chateau de Fontainbleau? Apart from the travel time, you need a very basic minimum of half a day. For a comfortable Chateau de Fontainebleau visit, you'll need 2 days! 

Half-day trip to Fontainebleau 
Just visit the interiors of Chateau de Fontainebleau. 
Then take either the Tiny Train ride or Horse-drawn Carriage ride to see the gardens if time permits.

One day in Fontainebleau (Daytrip to Fontainebleau) 
Morning - Visit the interiors of Chateau de Fontainebleau. 
Afternoon - Take either the Tiny Train ride or Horse-drawn Carriage ride to see the gardens. Or stroll through any one of the gardens or the park behind.
Evening - Go boating in the Carp Pond.

Two days in Fontainebleau (Weekend trip to Fontainebleau) 
Day 1 morning - Visit the interiors of Chateau de Fontainebleau. 
Day 1 afternoon - Take either the Tiny Train ride or Horse-drawn Carriage ride to see the gardens.
Day 1 evening - Go boating in the Carp Pond.
Day 2 - Go hiking/biking/horse riding in the forests of Fontainebleau

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Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

9 comments:

  1. Fontainbleau Castle looks amazing! I can only imagine how much luxury it would have been to actually live in those rooms filled with that incredible furniture and those majestic decorated walls and ceilings. The bedchambers are like proper works of art. What a life French royalty must have had back then! It's good to know that Fontainbleau is close to Paris and that you can visit on a day trip with your 1-5 zone ticket. It's definitely a plus to get out of the big city and explore more of the countryside. The town of Fontainbleau seems very cute as well.

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  2. Sorry to admit, it has been over 40 years since I visited Fountainbleau last and it still looks dazzling with all the interiors, everything still sparkles even to the vibrant wallpapers. I don't remember seeing many of these rooms including Bonapart's military tent on my visit or the town itself which looks charming with the stone cottages. Would definitely love to revisit this gorgeous palace again some day.

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  3. Amazing experience of visiting the Chateau de Fontainebleau through your well-written blog! I wish I could have stayed in those luxurious bedrooms with artistic furniture and paintings on the wall. It's great that you get to go to the garden without any extra charges. The horse carriage ride, train ride and carp pond seems perfect for families with kids. I have been to Paris but missed this place. Must include a day trip to Fontainebleau next time. :-)

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  4. Of all my time I spent in France I have not done this day trip...yet! I think what would excite me the most is the Forests of Fontainebleau. It would be fascinating to see what makes this an UNESCO Biosphere reserve.

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  5. We sure did love visiting the different chateaux as day trips from Paris. But we sadly missed a trip to see Chateau de Fontainebleau. I love when interiors have been restored and this castle looks quite stunning. I can just imagine people from another time moving from room to room. My head would be swivelling constantly to not miss a detail. I can see why this spot is one of the most Instagrammable spots in France. Need to plan a visit on a tour or maybe just take the train.

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  6. What a fascinating location! The interior design of the castle is absolutely gorgeous, particularly within the bedchambers and salon section. It's so grand and refined! The Plate Gallery also struck a chord with me; I had only recently seen plates incorporated into walls to be used as wall decor. I'm grateful for this virtual tour, which gave me the impression that I had already been here.

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  7. I loved VISIT CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU and it's surrounding. The frescoes of the castle look so pretty. Loved the way they maintain it. If I visit Paris next year, would love to visit this city for sure

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  8. This castle looks so interesting with all those luxurious and historic interiors. The Napoleon museum with all those artifacts is impressive. I have been several times in Paris but I never visited this castle. It looks like a great activity to add to my next visit to this city.

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  9. Wow, such an amazing place. Chateau de Fontainbleau castle can reveal many stories about the culture and traditions of royalty in Paris. You know what they say a picture worth a thousand words. It is well designed and fabricated.

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