Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Chateau de Fontainebleau

This week I went to Fontainebleau, another chateau about 45 minutes outside of Paris. It is over the top. The coffered, vaulted ceilings, the crystal chandeliers, the inlaid wooden floors, each room more ornate than the next: it is easy to imagine an extravagant life here. The Chateau has existed since at least the 12th century, but it wasn't until the 16th century that François I began the first of a series of renovations and additions which continued throughout the centuries (and inhabitants).
The fireplace in the ballroom.The Chandelier in the Throne Room, renovated by Napoleon in 1808. The central part of the ceiling is from the 17th century, while the portraits and furniture in this room (formerly the king's bedroom) are from the 19th century. All of the ceilings at Fontainebleau are this ornate, but each room is unique, with wooden ceilings in the Gallery and coffered ones in the Ballroom. Amazing (dare I say gaudy?).
Diana's Gallery, originally built by Henri IV in the 16th century, was converted into a library in 1858 by Napoleon III. It is immense - 80 meters long.
A view of the side of the chateau and the Carp Pond, from the English Garden.
There are actually enormous carps in the pond - they look like monster, mutant kois, but not as colorful as the ones you see at Japanese restaurants back home. There were also mallards and this adorable swan family and nest...awwww.

Fontainebleau is a great way to spend your afternoon outside of Paris. The chateau is gorgeous and very wellkept, but easily digestible - you won't get overwhelmed, and it only took about an hour to see the state apartments. The gardens are right across the street from one of the main squares in the town, so you will have your choice of terraces for a lunch or late afternoon drink, or of course the gardens themselves (no entrance fee) for a picnic.
Chateau de Fontainebleau
77300 Fontainebleau
01 60 71 50 70

Closed Tuesdays; Open from 9h30 - 18h in the summer.
Entrance fee varies from 3€ to 5€ depending upon what sections of the Chateau you want to see.
Take the TER from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau Avon (~40 minutes, 7.50€ one-way, check the schedule here).
From the train station you can either walk to the Chateau (30 min) or take one of the buses (Connex Ligne A, ~15 minutes, 1.40€ one-way).


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