Let’s Take to the Woods: Château Hopping – Château de Fontainebleau

Bonjour, my adventurous friend! Ready to swap the bustling streets of Paris for the serene beauty of Fontainebleau? Trust me, it’s a day trip worth taking, one of many possible around Paris. Fontainebleau is not just any town; it’s where history, nature, and French elegance blend seamlessly. And who doesn’t love a bit of château hopping? Let’s explore the enchanting world of Château de Fontainebleau and its beautiful surroundings.

A Peek into History

Fontainebleau started as a humble hunting lodge for French kings in the 12th century. Fast forward to the 16th century, and King Francois I transformed it into the magnificent château we see today. This place has seen everything—from Pope Pius VII’s captivity to Napoleon Bonaparte’s grand renovations. Napoleon adored Fontainebleau so much that he called it “the true home of kings, house of centuries.” He even preferred it to Versailles! While Versailles gets all the glory, Fontainebleau holds the charm of a well-kept secret, offering a more intimate and authentic glimpse into French royalty.

fontainbleau

Getting There

Fontainebleau is conveniently located about 55 kilometers (34 miles) southeast of Paris. It’s super accessible via public transport, just a 40-minute train ride from Gare de Lyon with only one stop on the Transilien (main line) trains. Easy peasy!

What to See

The Forest of Fontainebleau: This sprawling forest is a haven for nature lovers. Covering over 280 square kilometers (108 square miles), it’s perfect for hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding. It’s the very reason French kings chose this location for their hunting lodge.

Château de Fontainebleau: Naturally, the château is a must-see. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its opulent interiors, stunning gardens, and a vast collection of art and furnishings. The château is right in the town, making it easy to explore both the palace and the charming streets of Fontainebleau in a day. Each French king left his mark on the château, making it a unique blend of historical eras. Keep an eye out for the royal peacocks strutting around the grounds!

Château de Fontainebleau day trip

Insider Tips from a Local

A chef from Cook’n With Class who lives in Fontainebleau highly recommends this city for a day out of Paris. At the end of almost every street, there is a view of the forest. While visiting the town, you can walk down the charming streets and enjoy the dense greenery at any given moment. Many prefer the Château of Fontainebleau to the Château of Versailles for its plentiful tapestries, classic furniture, and very old theater.

Château de Fontainebleau day trip

Where to Eat

Let’s not forget the food! Fontainebleau has a lively food market (the Parisians are truly spoiled for their choice of markets), which takes place on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings. The market offers a wide variety of local produce, cheese, wine, and other goods.

You will find many traditional French dishes made with fresh, local ingredients in this town. Specialties include:

  • Brie de Meaux cheese
  • Fontainebleau cake (a type of whipped cream dessert)
  • Tarte Tatin (that famous upside-down apple tart)

tarte tatin canva images

Fontainebleau loves these treats and loves to eat in general! The town boasts more restaurants per inhabitant than any other city in France, with over 60 restaurants for around 15,000 inhabitants.

Restaurants to save:

La Petite Ardoise: This restaurant offers beautiful dishes of classic French bistro items, like snails in a creamy brie sauce. It’s small but with amazing flavors and cozy vibes. 16 Rue de Montebello, Fontainebleau

The Relais de l’Ecluse: A charming restaurant with a terrace by the banks of the Seine. Enjoy a taste of the Provencal lifestyle with dishes like stuffed calamari, foie gras with figs and muscat, and scorpionfish. 11 Chemin de Halage, 77920 Samois-sur-Seine

L’Anneau de Mallarmé: This family-owned restaurant with great views of the Seine offers high-quality meals and a warm welcome from the staff. 8 Quai Stéphane Mallarmé, 77870 Vulaines-sur-Seine

Le Troubadour: Traditional French food at a fair price. Expect a menu of starter and main or main and dessert for about 17 euros. The classic decor and great-tasting food make it a must-visit. 7 Rue Dénecourt, Fontainebleau

So, there you have it! A day trip to Fontainebleau is an easy escape from Paris. Before you head over to the chateau you should bring along some snacks for the ride and maybe even a picnic in the woods, to truly experience French culture, makes these snacks yourself with a pastry or desserts class in Paris! Happy travels and bon appétit!

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