Visit Fontainebleau with us, one of the largest royal residences in France and full of period furnishings.
The streets are quiet and peaceful, and nobody seems to be in a hurry. Even church bells ring softly on this busiest day of the work week. Nice to laze in bed over coffee and yesterday’s Herald Tribune. But we do have a plan, and that is to pick up Francois and John at their apartment and drive the 70 or so kilometers to Fontainebleau (pronounced Foun-tain-blow, as Francois keeps pointing out to me!), which is southeast. from the city and spend the afternoon there.
Welcome to Fontainebleau
We arrive at John and François’ place in the early afternoon and John navigates Paris traffic with ease as we speed out of the city and south into the fields and farmland surrounding Paris. We arrive at Fountainbleau just as the sun is slowly falling from the late afternoon sky. The town of Fontainebleau is famous for its massive 1,900-room Renaissance château, which has hosted members of the French royal family since the 12th century. It is one of the largest royal residences in France and is full of period furnishings. Comparing it to Versailles and considering the time of year, we hope it will be an easy visit. We wander the huge castle and walk around and realize we’re only seeing a small part of the huge site. The courtyards and wings were enlarged by Francois I, Henri II and Catherine de Medici to name a few, and it is difficult to understand exactly where changes were made. Fontainebleau has a lot more natural wood carving and paneling compared to other chateaux we’ve seen, and it fits very well with the overall warmth and hospitality of Fontainebleau.
We move outside and take in the beautiful gardens in the late evening sun. There are a few locals with prams and grandparents enjoying the park and we wander amongst them taking pictures and enjoying the views. It’s now after 5 and we decide to stop at a local cafe for some hot chocolate and Madeline’s. We walk through the remnants of the Sunday flea market, the last buyers and sellers packing up under the setting sun. Music and laughter from a carousel nearby add to the overall scene, and we sip our chocolate and chat for an hour.
Traffic is terrible on the way back to Paris and we stop at J & F’s for bistro food, 3 hamburgers and steak tartare (for François, the true French). We leave Paris tomorrow and I am sad to do so.
Paris is one of my favorite cities. it fit easily and comfortably. Easy to navigate, easy to communicate with and especially easy to live with.