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2020-08-21 12:14:17

The palace and forest of Fontainebleau: a modest hunting lodge turned into a fairytale palace

The palace and forest of Fontainebleau: a modest hunting lodge turned into a fairytale palace

One of the monuments of history and architecture of France, which is definitely worth a visit, is the Fontainebleau Palace, because it is the personification of French history. Surrounded by green parks and rich forests, the European castle has served as home to many monarchs, and each of them has managed to leave a mark on its walls. Tourists from all over the world are attracted by the unique external architecture, interior decoration and, of course, the most interesting story associated with the birth and death of kings, palace intrigues and court life.

Historical reference

The history of the Fontainebleau palace began in 1137, when King Hugo Capet decided to build a hunting lodge in a beautiful place near the stream - Fontaine Belle-eau, from which the name of the luxurious castle later came.

A hundred years later, Louis IX carried out the first major reconstruction of the palace, new towers and buildings were added to the building. But for the next 3 hundred years, the castle remained practically unchanged and was used only for hunting.

The next full-scale stage in the development of Fontainebleau took place in the 16th century during the reign of Francis I. To modernize the palace, the monarch invited the best Italian artisans working in the mannerism style. So on the site of a modest hunting lodge a real Renaissance castle arose, which tourists see today.

The following monarchs continued to supplement the palace: thanks to Henry IV, the Holy Trinity Chapel and several beautiful parks appeared, and under Ludwig III the famous horseshoe staircase was built.

Already in the 20th century, a historic summit took place in the Palace of Fontainebleau, which resulted in the formation of the European Council. Since 1981, the castle has been taken under the protection of UNESCO.

Interior decoration of a luxurious palace

Holy Trinity Chapel

The Royal Chapel is richly decorated with carved panels, sculptures, gilding and religious paintings. However, the main value of the Holy Trinity Chapel is the frescoes by Martin Freminet, dedicated to the scenes of the Last Judgment.

Napoleon Bonaparte Museum

The museum, opened in 1986, is Napoleon's personal suite, including a throne room, study, bedroom, Diana's gallery and other rooms. Tourists can look at the preserved things of the monarch (coronation robes, cocked hat, globe). Additionally, the exhibition features memorabilia related to the family of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Francis I Gallery

The Renaissance Gallery of King Francis I is one of the richest and earliest art collections in Europe. This fabulous place will amaze you with its amazing beauty! Paintings by Italian masters and the interior, decorated with light gilding and wood carvings, reflect the complete harmony of the artistic concept.

While walking through the amazing castle, you should definitely pay attention to:

  • Ballroom
  • Deer gallery
  • Red salon where Napoleon resigned
  • Chinese museum
  • Furniture gallery, where exhibits of the 18th-19th centuries are presented
  • Papal apartments, built in 1804

Amazing park of French monarchs

The garden and park ensemble of Fontainebleau is no less beautiful than the palace itself. The vast territory, walking paths and themed areas will make your stay unforgettable! Despite the fact that the park has been rebuilt and supplemented many times, it continues to reflect the style of the 16th century.

Thematic zones of the Fontainebleau park:

  • The English Garden will surprise you with a large artificial rock with a grotto and many rare tropical plants
  • The Big Parterre is famous for its original layout: it is divided into regular geometric shapes by neat alleys and smooth paths
  • Diana's small but beautiful garden, which looks like a real forest, hides in its vastness a statue of the goddess of the hunt - Diana.

Excursions and visits

You can visit the Fontainebleau castle from Wednesday to Monday:

  • Summer time: 09:30 - 18:00
  • In winter: 09:30 - 17:00.

The Palace Park is open daily:

  • Summer time: 09:00 - 19:00
  • In winter: 09:00 - 17:00.

Ticket prices:

  • Adult = 12 €
  • Child (under 18) - free
  • Preferential (up to 25 years old) = 10 €
  • Group (from 20 people) = 10 €.

Every first Sunday of the month (except July and August) tourists can enter the castle for free. Some areas may be closed for visits in case of bad weather.


The variety of excursion programs at the Palace of Fontainebleau allows each traveler to choose a thematic excursion to his liking.

  • Ticket price = 19 € - 26 € per person
  • Audio guide = 3 €
  • Duration = 45-90 minutes.

The entrance to the palace is additionally paid.

Interesting Facts

  • According to local legends, the Red Ghost lives in the palace of Fontainebleau, which appears only to monarchs before their death.
  • House of the Kings - the first castle in Europe, which did not contain any military fortifications and was intended exclusively for residence
  • The history of A. Dumas' novel "10 years later" developed in the Fontainebleau palace.

Object type: building.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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