Meandering Through Paris – Part 3 – Fontainebleau

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 was the gorgeous sunrise we woke up to that morning.

This horseshoe-shaped staircase was built in 1634. Carriages were able to pass underneath.

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.

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.

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.

We enjoyed browsing through the many rooms which were full of treasures like this one.

I loved this statue

I loved this statue

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The carvings on this wooden wardrobe were asoundingly intricate!

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Intricate scrollwork and detail in this vase!

Beautiful ceilings everywhere we went

Beautiful ceilings everywhere we went

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The red room; this bed was built for Marie-Antoinette, but she never had a chance to use it.

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This was the bedroom of the Queen-Mother Anne of Austria (from mid 17th century)

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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.

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One of many exquisite tapestries!

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I love this table with the two dogs carved in as the table’s legs.

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A picture of the many doorways that lined the outside wall of this Château de Fontainebleau

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Such glorious frescoes and sculptures throughout the Château Fontainebleau

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More exquisite artistry at the Château Fontainebleau

One of the beautiful ceiling frescoes

One of the beautiful ceiling frescoes

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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

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You can almost hear the horses roaring!

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I think this might have been my favourite piece in the entire Château Fontainebleau

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The bedroom of l’Impératrice – the Empress Josephine. It was originally designed for Marie-Antoinette who never used it.

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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

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Napoleon’s bedroom at Château Fontainebleau…look at that chandelier…and how short the bed is!

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This was another intriguing clock! The picture below explains each of the many parts.

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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!

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The beautiful Chapel of the Trinity (17th-18th century)…the ceiling was breath-takingly beautiful…reminded me of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

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A closer look at the ceiling frescoes in the Chapel of the Trinity

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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.

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The history of the Chapel Saint-Saturnin

I wasn't allowed to use a flash and it was very dark in the Chapel Saint S

I wasn’t allowed to use a flash and it was very dark in the Chapel Saint-Saturnin

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The Library at Château Fontainebleau

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Fountains and flowers grace the grounds at Château Fontainebleau

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André at Château Fontainebleau

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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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About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
This entry was posted in Château Fontainebleau, Fontainebleau, Paris, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Meandering Through Paris – Part 3 – Fontainebleau

  1. Wow! Such great examples of what I think is the Rococo or maybe Baroque style – very fancy and ornate. What great workmanship, too, on everything!

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  2. And you did a great job with the pictures, even without the flash! ❤

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  3. I’m delighted to hear that the link was so useful to you. And these beautiful rooms were on display without crowds and lines. That’s the best! I loved the way you planned your trip… in the most non-stress and efficient way. It’s the only way to travel.

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    • Sharon says:

      Thank you, Angelika…that link was awesome! The instructions on how to get there were easy to follow and immensely helpful. And the website it links to is one that we’ll refer back to over and over again.

      While we apparently missed a few of the “biggies” in Paris, we have no regrets and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city at our own pace and seeing the things that we did see, many of which were exquisite but aren’t even on the map, LOL. We do still agree that we enjoy the bus tour vacations more, for various reasons, but enjoyed the chance to do this one on our own the way we did.

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