Way back when we first booked our trip to Paris (and Berlin), I did a lot of research on the Internet, focusing mostly on how to use the RER (transit system) and general information on various tourist sites. My friend Angelika sent me a link to a website that is by far one of the best travel sites I’ve ever come across. The Savvy Backpacker is a vast treasure trove of incredibly useful and interesting information, advice and suggestions for travelers, and will be my go-to site from now on before we travel anywhere.
The link that Angelika sent me was to an article on the website titled The Nine Best Day Trips From Paris. My husband (an avid history buff) and I read the entire list and decided that we liked the sounds of Fontainebleau, home to the Château de Fontainebleau, which had been used by French monarchs from the 12th century through to Napoleon III. So instead of going to Versailles, where apparently everybody else goes, we took the early morning train to the small village of Fontainebleau, about a 45-minute train ride from Paris and then the local bus (which was waiting at the train station), arriving at the Château just as it opened.
One of the most amazing and enjoyable things about this day was that we pretty much had the entire castle all to ourselves! There were no crowds, no line-ups, no hassles whatsoever. We were free to roam everywhere, close enough to reach out and touch everything (but we didn’t), free to take pictures (without the flash) without lots of people’s heads in the way (very unusual for Paris) and so we took all the time we wanted to see everything we wanted to see.
The Château was the epitome of opulence and indulgence. Rich tapestries, intricate carvings, regal colours in every room and stunning frescoes painted by Rosso, a pupil of Michelangelo. And the manicured gardens with fountains and pond was a delightful oasis of calm beauty.
By the end of our leisurely meandering through the rich history and glorious opulence, we were very happy with our decision to visit Fontainebleau! Here are a few of the pictures I took there, keeping in mind that no flash was allowed.
This was the gorgeous sunrise we woke up to that morning.
This horseshoe-shaped staircase of the Château Fontainebleau was built in 1634. Carriages were able to pass through those double doors between the two staircases.
Beautiful stained-glass window! Not sure who it is pictured here.
A pair of Napoleon’s shoes…it’s difficult to get the scaling in this picture, but these shoes were actually very tiny.
We enjoyed browsing through the many rooms which were full of treasures like this one.
I loved this statue
The carvings on this wooden wardrobe were asoundingly intricate!
Intricate scrollwork and detail in this vase!
Beautiful ceilings everywhere we went
The red room; this bed was built for Marie-Antoinette, but she never had a chance to use it.
This was the bedroom of the Queen-Mother Anne of Austria (from mid 17th century)
This yellow room with the gorgeous cradle was Napoleon I’s son’s bedroom. The painting on the wall is of Napoleon’s son, later known as the Duke of Reichstadt.
One of many exquisite tapestries!
I love this table with the two dogs carved in as the table’s legs.
A picture of the many doorways that lined the outside wall of this Château de Fontainebleau
Such glorious frescoes and sculptures throughout the Château Fontainebleau
More exquisite artistry at the Château Fontainebleau
One of the beautiful ceiling frescoes
I was intrigued by the intricate detail of this clock…I took pictures from all angles in an attempt to capture the dynamic vibrancy of the workmanship
You can almost hear the horses roaring!
I think this might have been my favourite piece in the entire Château Fontainebleau
The bedroom of l’Impératrice – the Empress Josephine. It was originally designed for Marie-Antoinette who never used it.
This had originally been the bedroom of the Kings of France from Henry IV to Louis XVI. Napoléon converted it into his throne room in 1808
Napoleon’s bedroom at Château Fontainebleau…look at that chandelier…and how short the bed is!
This was another intriguing clock! The picture below explains each of the many parts.
This unique clock shows not only the time, but also the day of the week, the phases of the moon, the date, the month, phases of the sun and signs of the zodiac!
The beautiful Chapel of the Trinity (17th-18th century)…the ceiling was breath-takingly beautiful…reminded me of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
A closer look at the ceiling frescoes in the Chapel of the Trinity
Chateau Frontainebleau has three chapels. This is the ceiling of the original and oldest chapel, the Cour Ovale, named after Saint Saturnin. The story of this chapel is in the next picture.
The history of the Chapel Saint-Saturnin
I wasn’t allowed to use a flash and it was very dark in the Chapel Saint-Saturnin
The Library at Château Fontainebleau
Fountains and flowers grace the grounds at Château Fontainebleau
André at Château Fontainebleau
It was a glorious day at Château Fontainebleau
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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2014. All rights reserved.
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