Fontainebleau and Barbizon

Another lovely day trip from Paris is to the countryside about 35 miles southeast of the city, where we will discover yet another chateau, an enchanted forest and a charming village that was once home to an entire school of artists.
From Gare du Lyon, take the train to Fontainebleau/Avon which is about 2 miles from the Chateau Fontainebleau and the center of town. Take a bus or a taxi to the entrance of the chateau.


The hunting lodge and favorite residence of seven centuries of French royalty, from Louis VII to Catherine de Medici to Napoleon, the Chateau de Fontainebleau has 1500 rooms and is set on over 130 acres of gardens and parkland.  The sprawling palace showcases French architecture from the 12th through the 19th centuries. Because of the renovations done during the 16th century, including Florentine style frescos, it is said that the Renaissance was introduced to France at Fontainebleau. In 1814 Napoleon signed The Treaty of Fontainebleau, ending his reign of France and from the chateau he left for exile in Elba. Arguably, Fontainebleau is one of the most historically significant chateau in France.  

Adieux de Napoleon a la Garde Imperiale, Antoine Alfonse Monfort, Versailles




 After visiting the chateau and exploring its gardens, consider renting a bike in town and riding through the stunning Fontainebleau Forest. Or, you may just prefer a relaxing stroll along the peaceful forest path. The forest was originally the royal hunting grounds and encompasses over one hundred square miles. 


 You may want to ride the 6 miles through the forest to the quaint little village of Barbizon...the former artist colony known for the "Barbizon School" of artists, such as Camille Corot, Charles-François Daubigny, Theodore Rousseau and, my personal favorite, Jean Francois Millet, who had such later influence on the Impressionists.


In Barbizon, you can visit Millet's home and studio... 

L'Angélus, Jean-François Millet, Musee d'Orsay


But, you will have to visit the Musee d'Orsay to see my favorite painting by Jean Francois Millet.


There are some charming little cafes, brasseries and salons de thé in town where you can stop for break before riding back to Fontainebleau.


Things to Remember:

The Chateau de Fontainebleau is closed on Tuesdays.

For more information about hours and tickets at the chateau, go here.

For more information about how to get to Fontainebleau, go here.

For more information about bike rentals, go here.


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