Archive for May 22nd, 2020

May 22, 2020

Chateau de Fontainebleau, the faces of the French kingdom!

So I told you on several post my connection to this castle, and still is very close to me. Also, have written many pieces on it in my blog , however, the overall picture and guided tours were told when I started my blog way back, and I just updated to bring it back to life! So for pictures go to other posts. Hope you enjoy the /my Château de Fontainebleau, in Fontainebleau dept 77 Seine et Marne of the Ïle de France region.

One of the most important, lovely ,and special castles in France. It was my first introduction to French cultural and historical life back in 1990, as was visited with my girlfriend who is from the region,and then my wife; now deceased, memories forever!


I like to give you the details of getting there first, usually is last but I think it should be first so you know how to get there.  First the individual visits are done in the tour of the Grands appartements ,including those of the Pope,the renaissance rooms,sovereigns apartments and the interior apartment of the Emperor, the museum of Napoleon Ier, and the French and English style gardens covering 50 hectares ( 123,50 acres). You are given free audioguides. You are given guided tours of the Petit Appartements, the spaces link to the Second Empire (Napoleon III)  as well as the galerie des meubles (gallery of furnitures). You can visit the museum of Napoleon on a guided tour as well as the appartements. It is well advised to reserve in advance the guided tours of the Chateau.  The main webpage of the castle museum in English is at : Chateau de Fontainebleau

The city of Fontainebleau tourist council webpage is here for information not only of the castle but of the city monuments as well: Tourist office of Fontainebleau on the castle

The tourist information site for the region where Fontainebleau is its call Seine et Marne or dept 77 , and the webpage in French is at : Tourist office of Seine et Marne dept 77

For a magnificent ride into the forest of Fontainebleau ,one of the biggest in ile de France region and considered the “Green Lung of the Region ”  and full of interesting sights you go here at the tourist office in English with plenty of links to more specifics areas for walkers and outdoor lovers: Tourist office of Fontainebleau on its forest

The best way to reach it from Paris as most usually come from there is by train from gare de Lyon  line R direction Montargis, Sens or Montereau and stop at train station Fontainebleau-Avon. Train info here: transilien line R to Fontainebleau

And then take bus Line 1 direction Les Lilas to the stop Château here: transdev bus line 1 to Castle of Fontainebleau


Now  a bit more about this wonderful property, the Chateau de Fontainebleau. It was king François Ier who seduce by the beauty of the area ordered to demolished the feodal castle done by king Louis IX (Saint Louis)  and built a renaissance castle instead.  It was the home of the French kings/emperors from the 16C to the 19C from François I to Napoleon III. All of them at one time or the other had something to do with the castle, a window, a door a renovation a construction a garden they all left their imprints here.  It is ,also, the site of a painters school from the 16C started by le Rosso ( a disciple of Michael Ange ) and le Primatice. The school is still there on a side building.

A bit of a tour of the exterior, the most imposing is the cour du Cheval Blanc ou des Adieux ( horse shape court of the white horse or of the goodbyes). This exterior tour can take from 1h to 2h according to your pace. It starts here at the cour du Cheval Blanc as I like to call it. It was the honor court of the Emperor, then you go by the cour de la Fontaine, located by the etang des Carpes or the lake of Carps ( a fish); the fountain gives you a very pure water and was only used by the king which he had it guard daily. The current fountain dates from 1812 with a statue of Ulyses. Then , you cross the porte Dorée or golden door dating from 1528 with a sculptured salamander the symbol of king François I. You make your steps backward coming to the chapelle du Baptistére (baptismal chapel not visited only by groups but gorgeous inside), and you arrive at cour Ovale or oval court, the oldest at the castle as it sits at the courtyard of the old feodal castle first built here where today you only see the donjon or tower, at the other end you see the porte du Baptistére. You continue your tour with the cour des Offices or Cuisines, where the entrance is guarded by two impressive heads of Hermés (1640) ;this courtyard was built in 1609 by king Henry IV, and you can see from here the front of the place d’Armes and its magnificent architecture.  Once you noticed the gardens, oh la la la! First come into the jardin de Diane or Diana’s garden created by Catherine de Médicis.You should make a brief walk by the grotte du jardin des Pins or cave of the garden of pines, decorated with frescos by king François I. Come across from here to the English garden where the water flows on a small fountain call Bliaud or Blaut that gives the name to the Chateau in old French,until you reach the Parterre design by gardener Le Notre . The park is a creation of king Henry IV that created the canal in 1609 (about 60 yrs before the Grand Canal at Versailles), and planted oak,pines, and fruit trees all around it. You can ride all these gardens in horse wagon or attelages starting from the porte Dorée in season (mostly summers). You can ,also, see the jeu de paume de Fontainebleau by the side of the jardin de Diane, where from 1601 tennis and squash are still practice from 11h to 19h for free.

Coming inside the castle, of course, you cannot missed the Grands Appartements where you will see the splendid galerie François I or the chapelle de la Trinité, the chapel where Louis XV marries Marie Leszczynska and where the future Napoleon III was baptised. Stop by the escalier du Roi( king’s stair) built under king Louis XV where the theme is the history of Alexander as seen by the Primatice painter. You will end up at the salle de bal or ballroom where the paintings and the layout are absolutely marvelous. To the side you will see the appartements royaux or royal apartments where Catherine de Médicis and Henry IV lived;just gorgeous. Here the galerie de Diane long of 80 meters (264 ft)  was transformed into a library under the Second Empire. After you walk thru numerous rooms, boudoirs,and galleries take a look at the appartements intérieur de l’Empereur or the interior apartments of the Emperor;  where it is the bedroom and the salon de l’Abdication or abdication room where the Emperor Napoleon I abdicated on April 6, 1814. The furniture has remain the same here ever since. You go to the ground floor of the galerie François I that gives way to the jardin de Diane to visit the Petits Appartements or Small apartments that were used by Napoleon I and Josephine. These are the private apartments of the monarch first used by king Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry . The smaller ones are decorated under Josephine (1808 ) such as the salon Jaune or yellow bedroom that is exquisite. You come into the galerie des Cerfs or Gallery of Stags that was given the name because of the heads of stags that is decorated with and were a replacement to the statues done by the Primatice in 1540.

You have two museums into the museum castle of Fontainebleau, one is the Musée Chinois or Chinese museum, the collection was started by emperatrice Eugénie (wife of Napoleon III) coming from the loots of the chinese emperor by the English-Franco expedition against China in 1860. The other is the musée Napoléon 1er or the Napoleon I museum. This is dedicated to the Emperor and his family, occupying 15 rooms on the first floor(2 FL) and ground floor (1 FL)at the wing Louis XV. The museum has souvenirs, objects d’arts,furniture,, ceramics, arms etc etc of the family.. guided visit last about 1h15 upon request from June to September. Otherwise open every day from 9h30 to 18h October thru May.

In more lasting visits I have stayed at the Mercure Royal Hotel  , a wonderful property just walking distance from the chateau and city center,  webpage in French from All Accor. More info here in French: All Accor Mercure Royale Fontainebleau

For lunch we went out thus and tried the La Salamandre, 76 rue Grande, tel +33 01 64 22 28 16 , They have a Facebook page here:Facebook page of La Salamandre resto

It is right on main street to the right of castle near Church of Saint Louis. The terrine de poissons, and osso bucco was very good indeed, formules from 12€ entrée+main dish or main dish + dessert. Coffee 1,60€ at counter 1,10€ quart of wine 3,20€ for two persons; nice view of people watching in city center.

Enjoy the castle, I am there regularly. And see my many posts on Fontainebleau of kings and emperors. A huge castle for the history of France, Europe and even the World, a must to visit.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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May 22, 2020

Saint-Louis Church ,Fontainebleau!

So here I am bringing back lovely monument of my belle France. I was reviewing my Fontainebleau posts and even if several ,there is something missing always with so much to see. I like to tell you a deserving bit more on the Saint Louis Church of Fontainebleau!

I have walked this town back and forward over the years , and enjoy very much visited, as even Friends of the Castle myself. However, even if passed by it many times I have done a post on the Church of Saint Louis and it should be mention. Here is my take on it. hope you like it.

The Saint-Louis Church is located in Fontainebleau ,Seine-et-Marne dept 77 region of ïle de France. Exactly at 2 rue de la Paroisse, right off corner of Rue Grande , not far from the castle; It is part of the diocese of Meaux. The Saint-Louis Church was built between 1611 and 1614 then considerably altered under the Second Empire.


At the time when the town of Fontainebleau was growing, that the path of the inhabitants towards the church of Avon became more and more difficult, king Henri IV made start the church of the parish in 1610 but he did not have time to complete it because he died on May 14 in Paris. It was the regent Marie de Medici who fulfilled the king’s promise. The Saint-Louis Church was completed in May 1614. The town of Fontainebleau was created by the constituent from its parish in 1661. On November 16, 1661, king Louis XIV and Anne of Austria erected the chapel in the parish of Fontainebleau. In 1662, with permission from the King; a priest  bought a piece of land behind the church to build a large building to house a community of priests: this is the Hôtel de la Mission, still in existence.

The parish register of the Saint Louis Church of Fontainebleau contains the baptismal certificate of the son of the musician Jean-Baptiste Lully and Madeleine Lambert, Louis Lully, baptized on September 9, 1677 in the upper Saint-Saturnin Chapel (see post) of the Oval Court of the Château de Fontainebleau.

The Saint-Louis Church was considerably enlarged and enriched by Napoleon III, who came regularly to the castle and wished to give the city a more monumental character. It is from this period that the main facade, the facade of the transept on Rue Grande and the Chapel of the Virgin date, as an extension of the apse. The Saint-Louis Church has brick and stone facades which give it a very special personality among the religious buildings of the region.

In the 18C, King Louis XV and his wife, Queen Marie Leszczynska, were the godfather and godmother of the church bell. It was dismantled and broken during the French revolution. The Saint-Louis Church has an organ buffet offered by King Louis XIV. The organ is partially damaged, notably due to soot, during the arson attack on January 10, 2016.

Unfortunately, on January 10, 2016, part of the Saint Louis Church was ravaged by arson: according to the mayor of the city, the statue of the Virgin of Franchard from the 14C, an altarpiece from the 15C and an altar from the 16C were destroyed. The ciborium was stolen and consecrated hosts were thrown on the ground. The Reparation Mass is celebrated by the bishop of Meaux, Mgr Jean-Yves Nahmias, on January 24, 2016, in the presence of President Nicolas Sarkozy and the President of the Île-de-France region Valérie Pécresse. On May 2018 ,the new statue of the Virgin of Franchard was replace by an identical statue ,the work of sculptor Thierry Gillaizeau, Meilleur Ouvrier de France and put back in the chapel.

A bit on the architecture of the Saint Louis Church tell us the facade with three superimposed pyramid levels. A arched arch door opens the first level and is framed in the antique double Corinthian columns engaged supporting a triangular pediment; the second level carved out of three niches sheltering statues of saints; and the third level is made up of fluted Corinthian pilasters, surmounted by a broken pediment with reentrant upper scrolls. The side walls are pierced with bays framed in bricks. A bell tower with a polygonal base and louvers is placed above the crossing of the transept, at the top of the roof. The entire building is covered with a double-pitched roof. The interior elevation has two elevation levels of large countered arches and tall windows, covered with a curved vault covered with paintings with decorative patterns.

Some webpages to help you visit the wonderful Saint Louis Church in French:

City of Fontainebleau on the St Louis Church

Contact the Parish of Meaux for personal visits in French: Parish of Meaux on visits to St Louis Church

It is always there, close to the castle on main street, always a fix and we have come and gone from it. Hope you like the reminder of another monument to visit in my beloved memorable Fontainebleau and the Saint Louis Church.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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May 22, 2020

Paris Orly Airport!

So here is another missing more information me think. I have written extensively on Paris Roissy CDG airport and its terminals which I have taken profusely. However, I have , also taken Orly even if much less it has been several times over the years. And as by now usual , not written enough on this airport that can be a good value for long haul flights from the Americas at least. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on the Paris Orly Airport.

Let’s go over Orly the south Paris airport and only 10 km from the city of Paris. Actually , the airport is within the city of Orly in Val de Marne dept 94 in the Ïle de France region. Even thus some of the landing runways are in the Essonne dept 91 as well. Distance wise it is closer than Roissy!

However, before, I tackled the airport let me tell you a bit of the history of it that I like.

Inaugurated on May 23, 1909, Port-Aviation, located in Viry-Châtillon, on the banks of the Seine, is the first organized aerodrome in the world. This is where most of the air shows of the time were held. The site of the current Paris-Orly airport, the Longboyau plateau, located east of the national road 7 (N7), is then occupied by fields. These fields will be used as relief ground at Port-Aviation, as during the floods of 1910 which made it unusable. At the start of the Great War or WWI, the site, easily identifiable and accessible, served as a rescue ground for Allied planes, and farmers on the plateau frequently saw them land there. In 1918, the War Ministry requisitioned eleven hectares on the Longboyau plateau and built a hangar there. It is the beginning of the “Orly – Villeneuve” aviation camp. More and more planes are sent to the front from this terrain. On March 31, 1918, the Americans established their air base on the Orly plateau. At the beginning of 1919, the department of general warehouses of civil aviation (SEGA) is installed in Orly. It is taken in charge by the American army for the storage of air war material. On this military ground, the French, the Belgians and the Americans rub shoulders until 1919.  After WWI , a civil airport is installed to the north of the site, welcoming civilian passenger planes. During WWII, the land was first attacked by the Luftwaffe (Nazis Air Force), then became a Nazis military base. On August 23, 1944, the US Army Air Forces moved to Orly. It is at this time that the old control tower is built, still visible today, as well as the north-south tracks, one of which is now abandoned, but still present. In 1945, the company Aéroports de Paris was created, responsible for operating the airports around Paris. In 1946, the Americans returned the management of the airport to France. The French army and the American army however continue to sometimes use Paris-Orly airport. For example, it was from Orly that the last French troops left for Indochina in 1954. The South terminal built from 1957-1960 marks a marked development. It was officially inaugurated on February 24, 1961 by General de Gaulle.

Bear with me now. I will try to describe it and split into its two terminals as here you have now four buildings from the old terminal West or Ouest ,now becomes terminals 1 and 2, terminal  South or Sud becomes terminal 4. There is a connecting terminal call terminal 3.  The information is as current as possible but due to current situation with the wuhan virus (covid19) you need to check before coming. As I write for the same reason Orly airport is close to traffic;bear in mind. And in addition, I have not yet try the new configuration as my last trips by here was early mid 2019, when still name Ouest et Sud!


In the meantime, this is the new Orly airport for Paris! The names boarding halls and salles or rooms have disappeared in favor of the name boarding gates.


Hall 2 gate 20H Orly Ouest family

Orly 1 departures registration 11 to 18 at gates A and B.  Orly 2 departures registrations 21 to 26 gate C.  Orly 3 departure registrations 31 to 36 gates D (international) E (Schengen).  Orly 4 departure registrations 41 to 48 gates E (Schengen) F (international). Orly 4 L’Arche or arc registration 49.


My Dad arriving Orly Ouest

The new maps of Orly are here:

Orly 4 :

Orly 1-2:

Orly 3 Jonction or connector:—16-05-19.pdf?sfvrsn=1508fbbd_6

By the road , which I have come too, you have panels on the N7 Evry but you have ,also, panels directing you to the Orly 1 2 3 4 as above. Only the panels names change the rest stays the same as before.  There are free navettes to all parkings.

Inter terminal the Orlyval Orly 4 by RATP counter; Orly 1-2-3 sortie 14 departure level. The OrlyVal webpage here:

The arrays of public transportation which I have, also, taken are numerous; these are all if not most me think

Navette Orlyval links Antony with the RER B stop Orly 4 sortie 48, Orly 1-2 sortie 14 departures, From Paris direction Antony take direction Saint Remy lés Chevreuse and from Antony to Paris direction Mitry-Claye. Official webpage here in English: OrlyVal

The RER C to Pont de Rungis by the bus Go C Paris. From Paris take direction Massy-Palaiseau or Pont de Rungis. From Pont de Rungis to Paris take direction on trains GOTA or NORA direction Pontoise or Montigny-Beauchamp stop bus GO C Paris.   At Orly 4 ger the bus at sortie 47 arrêt 5; Orly 1-2 sortie 15 arrêt 7; tariff bus RER train combine ticket 6,35€

Figure out the REC C traject here in English: Transilien network on RER C

The Go C bus line info in English : Keolis Essonne Val de Marne GO C Bus

Several bus lines now connects with Paris Orly such as the Le Bus Direct (old Air France) line 1 from Eiffel, Montparnasse, Place de l’Etoile, Trocadero etc, at Orly 1-2 sortie 18 arrivals and Orly 4 sortie 48 arrivals. Bus Direct Line 3 connects CDG to Orly . Orlybus from Denfert-Rochereau Orly 1-2-3-4 at bus terminal in Orly, and to Paris from quai 5 Orly 4 near gate 47d. More info in English here: Le Bus Direct schedules

The bus 183 takes your from Orly 4 niveau or level 0 porte 47d arrêt or stop 4 to Paris Porte de Choisy and connect with metro line 4 and tramway line 3a. The RATP line is here: RATP bus line 183 to from Orly

The Tramway line 7 from Villejuif-Louis Aragon terminus of metro line 7 to exchange pole Athis-Mons passing by Orly. Map and info here: RATP tramway line 7 to Orly

The navette Magical shuttle takes you to Disneyland . It stops at  Orly 4 sortie 47d arrêt 3 ,Orly 1-2 level or niveau 0 arrêt 15 sortie 18a. More info here: Magical Shuttle bus to Orly and Disneyland

The Bus Express 91-10 by Albatrans  links with the TGV train station at Massy-Palaiseau from Orly 4 sortie 47 arrêt 3, Orly 1-2 sortie 22 arrêt 18. More info in French here: vianavigo bus schedule 91-10 to Orly

Taxi stands at Orly 1-2 porte 14a, Orly 3 porte 32a, and Orly 4 porte 48a. Forfait rates posted to Paris rive droite are 37 euros and to Paris rive gauche 32 euros. The best for me are the G7 taxis.

Bit of info inside the new terminals.

The post office is at Orly 1-2 arrivals gate 14a there are mailboxes at various locations. Urgent medical care is at Orly 1-2 street level arrivals porte 10a. Pharmacies are at Orly 1-2   public zone departure gate 21d, Orly 3 reserve zone, Orly 4 public zone first floor (2nd US).

My favorites hangouts in the Orly airport have been at Orly 1-2: Paul, Eric Kayser, Relay, Bellota Bellota, and at Orly 4: Berts, and Brioche Dorée.   The Buy Paris duty free are ok but you need to know your prices.

The overall webpage for Aéroports de Paris on Orly airport in English is here: Paris aeroport on Orly

An unofficial but helpful Orly Facile in French is here: Orly Facile airport

And there you go another nice airport yours truly has walk and run inside to get to flights over the years and even connecting with CDG Roissy! Hoping the information is helpful for visiting folks , welcome to the new Orly!! not yet Paris but you are near!!! Awaiting ok to reopen again after the virus.

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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