Chateau de Fontainebleau

Today Laurie and I went to Chateau de Fontainebleau again. This is at least our third visit (and maybe the fourth) and we enjoy it more each time.

The Best Audio Guide We’ve Encountered

Today we rented the audio guide and were pleased by how good it was. When these guides use technology well, they can really add to the enjoyment of a visit. The Chateau’s audio guides are smart-phones in disguise and so they can do cool things: pictures of each room as you enter it, so you know you’re in the right room, a “Location” button that when pressed shows a 3-D view of the entire Chateau with your location marked, excellent narratives, with the ability to easily access additional narratives with greater detail or on related subjects. Cost: 3€ ($3.50); I can tell you that was money well spent!

We visited the Chateau last trip; if you want to get more information look at Chateau de Fontainebleau, 2013. The first royal edifice was built here in the 12th century, and different kings and queens added, changed, tore down and rebuilt from then until the last royalty left (that was Napoleon III, nephew of the real Napoleon, “Emperor” from 1851 until he was captured by the German army in the French-Prussian war in 1870; by the time he was released, France had moved on from his emperorship and so he moved on to England).

Many people think Chateau de Fontainebleau is more interesting and historical than Versailles, as many kings and queens contributed to it, whereas Versailles was one king. It also is way less crowded! We’ve heard that almost any time of the year, Versailles is wall-to-wall people. You’ll see in the pictures of this post that, even with a bunch of school groups touring today, it was very comfortable.

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You know it’s going to be good when you start with this view! We walked in from a back gate so we could walk through the gardens (and get free parking)

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Chateau de Fontainbleau – front court. At the end of the walkway is the famous stairway from which Napoleon said good-bye to his Imperial Guard…the first time. He’d be back, with disastrous results for the army (Waterloo).

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A crib for Napoleon’s son – Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles Bonaparte, aka “The King of Rome”.

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Another crib for the kid, because you can’t have too many cribs for a kid named Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles Bonaparte King of Rome.

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Trinity Chapel. Can you say “ornate?” This is the view from the main floor, where the court hangers-on would have sat.

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The Trinity Chapel, where the Royal Family sat during services. This way they didn’t have to mingle with the hoi-polloi below.

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The Diana Gallery. Though much of the official literature of the Chateau said that the Diana – to whom there are many references throughout the Chateau – meant Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, it’s much more likely that they referred to Diane DePoitiers, mistress of Henry II.

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Napoleon’s Throne. You have to love history like this: this is the real, authentic, actual throne Napoleon used in the room he used. Pretty cool, I think.

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The French equivalent of “George Washington slept here:” Napoleon’s bedroom, and he did indeed sleep here many nights. He loved Chateau de Fontainebleau and spent many days and nights here.

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A beautiful, simple room: Marie Antoinette decorated it and it was her favorite room here.

That’s Chateau de Fontainebleau. We’d go again in a minute, and I’m sure we’ll be back here again. We really love this Chateau, for its beauty and its amazing history. The Chateau was lived in by Kings Louis IX, Charles VI, Henri II and Catherine de Medici, Charles IX, Henri III, Henri IV, Louis XIII, Louis XIV (The Sun King, who built Versailles), Louis XV, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Emperor Napoleon, Charles X, Louis Philippe, and Emperor Napoleon III. Not a bad cast of characters, history-wise.

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One Response to Chateau de Fontainebleau

  1. Margaret Geffrey says:

    Such ornate beauty !! I love the rich colors and patterns.

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