Let’s bring back memories of Fontainebleau!

I like to have memories and nowdays even more. I remember Fontainebleau castle as it was the property in Seine et Marne dept 77 that my late wife Martine, took me first to show me her department/region back in 1990. We have come here ever since,and it is one of my favorite castles been friend of the association that helps protect its heritage. Their office is on your left once entering the main entrance to the castle.  First , let me start by telling you , I have written before several posts on Fontainebleau. Read on….

To speak a bit more on this wonderful castle will take me a whole blog but will give you some general information on it and the city of same name.  Fontainebleau, the city, is in the department 77 or Seine-et-Marne, part of the region of ïle de France, and only about 57 km (about 35 miles) from Paris. It is the most extensive city of the region and mostly covered by a forest; the city itself not counting the castle is 232 hectares or about 573 acres. The Seine river passes by it as well as the smaller river and tributary of the Seine , the Ru de la Mare aux Evées (actually a stream of water).

Some of the main streets in town are the rue Grande long of almost 3 km and the most the visitor will like to walk on. Others are the Place Solférino, Place Denecourt opening to the grill door of the garden or Jardin de Diane, the famous Place d’Armes or Place François Ier, place de l’Hôtel de Ville, place de l’Etape aux vins and the Place de la République.  There is a train station in the nearby town of Avon , attach to Fontainebleau and get you to the castle by local bus or taxi easily.  Gare de Fontainebleau-Avon on the line Paris gare de Lyon trains R direction Montargis/Sens; better in French and you can print the train stops map here: Transilien Fontainebleau train line R 

You can take a taxi outside the station to the castle or pre booked better on this recommended companies by the city:

Radio-Taxi Fontainebleau Avon : 01 64 22 00 06 http://www.taxis-fontainebleau-avon.fr

Taxi Fontainebleau Avon : 06 77 94 10 06 www.taxi-resa.com

By the road ,which how I always go there from Paris you take the A6 at porte d’Orléans or Porte d’Italie and get off at exit for Fontainebleau. Rather than drive around for a parking spot, I have become used to park at the same parking each time and never a problem.  Parking Château on Rue Ferrare just on the other side of the main entrance to the castle ,next street over; open 7/7 24hrs and free on evenings from 19h to 9h every day; daytime is a modest price where I never paid more than 5 euros.

Another route I take from family and could be useful for those coming from Disneyland is to get on the A4 direction Paris and get off at exit/sortie 15 on the N36 direction Melun and there take the D606 direction Fontainebleau right into the rue Grande or from the D606 right after Melun get on the D142 by the carrefour du roi traffic circle follow it thru the forest and entered once past another traffic circle or La Croix du Grand Veneur you will be on the D607 straight into Fontainebleau by the Rue de France; take a left on rue Denecourt and then a right to parking at Rue Ferrare.

A bit of history I like.

This spot was a hamlet and a stop for hunters and a chapel built by king Louis VII. Later Saint Louis (king Louis IX) who loves Fontainebleau  had built a mansion and a hospital here . Nevertheless, Fontainebleau was nothing than a hamlet until 1528 when king François Ier returning to France after spending a year in prison in Spain after the defeat at Pavia in 1525 had decided to built a castle inspired by the Italians styles. In the 17C, many mansions were built here office tourism says about 30 to house the princes and the lords of the court (one was the Ferrare palace now only the front door arch remains and is the entrance to the parking I used and mentioned above. It had great parties especially by the Madame sister in law of the king, the Princess Palatine. In 1685, king Louis XIV signed the edit of Fontainebleau that cancelled the edit of Nantes that cause many protestants to leave France. In 1725, king Louix XV marries here. The French revolution did not cause too much damage here due to the richness of the inhabitants. The empire of Napoléon Ier came to the castle and had it renovated as well as many mansions some turned into hotels like the current luxury  Aigle Noir.

On October 29 1807, Manuel Godoy the minister of the Spanish king Carlos IV and Napoléon Ier signed the treaty of Fontainebleau allowing French troops to passed by Spain to invade Portugal; they decided to stay in Spain too. By June 1812, the Pope Pie VII arrived at Fontainebleau and stayed as house prison from that date to 1814 without leaving his apartment. On April 20 1814, Napoléon Ier shortly after his first abdication says farewell to his troops from the courtyard of the Cheval Blanc (later courtyard of goodbye or cour des adieux). IN all , there were 34 monarchs from Louis VI le Fat to Napoléon III who stayed at Fontainebleau during 7 centuries. From the 16C to the 18C all the kings from François Ier to Louis XV had done renovations, demolitions, enlargements, rebuilts more or less homogeneous to the architecture of the castle. In August 1946, Fontainebleau held the Franco-Vietnamien conference to find a solution to the conflict in Indochina and was a failure as later history can attest. The military tradition of the city kept it for a long time link to the army barracks such as the headquarters of the allied armies of Central Europe or AFCENT, the land forces LANDCENT, and the air forces AIRCENT of NATO  from 1949 to 1967(when France pull out of NATO ) Today the city host a grand école a famous business school wiht international recognition such as INSEAD

The main things to see here are the Fontainebleau castle, and its Napoléon and Chinese museums inside as well as the gardens and the forest of Fontainebleau.  Others are the cimetery and the Saint Louis Church dated from the 17C and restored and enlarged in 1868(had a recent fire inside but currently been restored) . Other mainly horse related event are the CSEM or military equestrian sports center, and the Grand parquet on the field of Salamandre, that hold trainers and breeders of horses , the racecours of Fontainebleau at La Solle, and history tell us that at Bois-le-Roi a small village close to Fontainbleau  was held in 1776, the first English style racehorse at the hamlet of Sermaise. There is also, a nice theater or théatre Municipale built from 1905 in the louis XIII style in brick and stone, the theater opened in 1912. It was closed during WWI and again for restoration from 1999 to 2006.

Some of the mansions or architecturally interesting in my opinion here are: The Hôtel de Bellune at 4 rue Saint Honoré, Hôtel de Polignac at 23 rue Saint Honoré, Hôtel de Conti at 27 rue Saint Honoré , Hôtel de Pompadour, at the small street rue de l’Arbr-Sec this was built for the mistress of king Louis XV,it had a small botanical garden and a petting zoo.  There is an obelisk at the crossing or carrefour de l’Obélisque built in 1786 in honor of queen Marie Antoinette and her children. The curious will go to the forest and see the Priory Notre Dame de Franchard dating from early 411AD and rebuilt in 1626 now run by the order of the Trinitarians following the rule of Saint Augustin. 

The official webpage of Fontainebleau castle: Fontainebleau castle official site

The webpage to the Friends of Fontainebleau if you want to help preserve this wonder of our world. Friends of Fontainebleau castle

The national forest of France on Fontainebleau in French: Forest of Fontainebleau

the city of Fontainebleau and its history in French; City hall of Fontainebleau

The tourist office of Fontainebleau in English: Tourist office of Fontainebleau

Tourist office of dept 77 Seine et Marne on Fontainebleau:  Tourist office of Dept 77 Seine-et-Marne

Tourist office of the region of ïle de France in English on Fontainebleau: ïle de France region tourism

I believe you have a full spectrum of choices in this wonderful castle /city of many memories in my family ,and I hope if you do come will bring you many memories to you and yours too.

Remember, I am back. Happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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4 Comments to “Let’s bring back memories of Fontainebleau!”

  1. Never been there, maybe now I will. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to play in the Chateau when I was 9 and 10 years old. That was during the mid-60’s. My father was an RCAF officer attached to AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe), part of NATO. The headquarter buildings were part of the chateau complex back then. My sister and I attended International School in Fontainebleau and took piano lessons in a private home across the street from the main gates to the chateau. My best friend was Harold Remington whose father was Base Commander of the American base in Fontainebleau. We’d play for hours in the halls, rooms, courtyards, and gardens of the chateau. Feeding bits of bread to the carp was always a must. We didn’t know how lucky we were to have (almost) free reign of the property. Security was very lax back then but I’m sure our antics would be impossible today. Fontainebleau, and particularly the chateau, is one of my favourite places on earth, if not my most favourite. I’ve returned a few times since the 60’s and everytime I’m transported back to my boyhood and the magical home of kings.

    Liked by 1 person

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