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Fontainebleau town guide


Fontainebleu is fairly close to Paris and easily accessible by hire car. The Fontainebleu area is just a day's horse ride away to the South East of Paris, very convenient for the French kings who hunted in the Forest. The town is, of course, best known for the magnificent Chateau which has no less than nineteen hundred different rooms. The town itself typifies the good quality of life that was available to those who supported first the French aristocracy and later the government. The town is extremely pleasant, large houses border wide streets and everything has an air of respectable elegance.

If you only have a day to visit the Chateau of Fontainebleu, you need to plan your visit with some care as it impossible to see everything. First be aware that the whole place is closed on Tuesdays. Take your time at the reception area and decide which or how many of the tours you wish to take. These range from ones which are unaccompanied and take a half an hour or so, to accompanied tours with commentaries in French and various other languages which can take several hours.

It was not all the rulers of France who enjoyed and developed the Chateau but there were six in particular who did so: Francois I was the first king responsible for building much of the basic structure in the fifteenth century. Henri IV in the sixteenth century lived in Fontainebleu for much of the year he had the "Grand Canal" dug and is responsible for some of the Flemish decoration. Several Princes and princesses were born here during this time. Louis XV was a serious hunter and used the chateau each autumn as a base for stag hunting. He demolished a wing and had the Court of Farewells built. Napoleon I really used the Chateau as his court. The imprisoning of the Pope took place here at this time and it was from here that he was forced to abdicate in 1814. Louis Phillipe spent huge sums restoring and altering the palace but his stay was relatively short lived before the restoration of the Empire and Napoleon III taking residence in 1852. He really enjoyed the Chateau and signs of his influence still dominate.

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