After being in the city for several days, we decided that we needed to head out and explore the country. On our last day, we decided to make a day trip out to Chateau de Fontainebleau.
|Day trip to Chateau de Fontainebleau|
Have you ever heard of it?
No? Well, it is like Versailles, except… prettier! WHAT? Prettier than Versailles? Yes, it is a UNESCO world heritage site (Versailles is not). What’s nice about it is that it has room after room of original furnishings AND it lacks crowds. The place was practically empty!
It’s only about 40 minutes away, but when you don’t speak French getting there can be a trick. I’m going to try to make it easy for you! My directions will be at the bottom of the post; the first part will be the pretty pictures!
Chateau de Fontainebleau had been the residence of French Monarchs from Louis VII all the way through Napoleon.
|Gallery of Francis 1, made between 1533-1539!|
I’m not going to do much talking… I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Everything here is original.
|the Queen’s bedroom|
|The Gallery of Diana, lined with bookcases|
|kids singing in the chapel|
Napoleon really did wear a hat like the ones he was painted wearing!
|the Pope’s apartment|
I just love the paintings on the paneling of this wall…
|the council chamber|
We met a “member” of the Royal Court in the Chateau as well… (they had several people dressed up in the rooms… it was kind of fun).
There are large gardens and grounds surrounding the castle, but it was a bit chilly that day so we didn’t walk all around. But here’s what we’re all missing…
|the carp pond, from wiki|
|pic from wiki|
I really enjoyed all of the rooms in Fontainebleau. If you’re looking for a Chateau experience and you’re debating between Versailles and Fontainebleau, I highly recommend Chateau de Fontainebleau (unless you do the bike tour of Versailles. I loved that). There were hardly any crowds at this chateau and the town of Fontainebleau is super cute. Plus, there are a lot more things to look at in Fontainebleau as the rooms are all highly decorated with original furnishings.
I included a city map of Fontainebleau. The X’s represent the bus stop, the chateau, and the crepe place that we ate at. There are lots of cute little restaurants and shops in the town, but I recommend trying the L’Hirondelle Creperie. It’s just a short walk from the Chateau.
|map of Fontainebleau.|
Directions to get to Fontainebleau
The train to Fontainebleau departs from Gare de Lyon in Paris. From the Gare de Lyon, you will need to take the RER train headed for either Montargis Sens, Montereau, or Laroche-Migennes. Your destination however is “Fontainebleau-Avon”. Remember, the trains will not say Fontainebleau, they will only state which direction you are headed. The trains leave about every 30-40 minutes from Gare de Lyon.
I thought the trickiest part was navigating through Gare de Lyon. We arrived by metro and had to take several flights of stairs to get to the RER station area. We had no clue which machine to buy tickets from, so we simply went up to the staffed window. The lady there didn’t speak very good English, but understood we wanted round-trip tickets to Fontainebleau and back. The ticket she sold us was good for all-day use for the metro, buses, and RER. I believe that card is called the Mobilis (day pass).
Now once you have your ticket, it’s time to find out which platform your train leaves from. There are two train platforms, blue and yellow. Your train can leave from either platform. You need to go to the departures board and look. Make sure you’re looking at the depart board (it says Depart). You will usually find a bunch of people staring at a tv screen somewhere and that is likely the departures board. Look for your train. Then, once the train track line is posted, immediately start heading to the line. The place is confusing and they will often only post the line number 5-10 minutes before departure.
|destination screen, I tried to make it easy for you!|
To make sure you’re at the right track line, you will see the destination name on the screens on the train.
Once you get off at the station Fontainebleau-Avon, you simply walk outside and go to bus line #1. Ligne 1 is destined for Les Lilas. Our RER ticket day pass worked as the bus ticket. You will get off at the Chateau stop. We didn’t know which stop was what, but when all the tourists got off at one stop, we simply hopped off and voila! We turned the corner and we were there! I’m sure you could just tell the bus driver “Chateau, si vous plait”. It is about a 15 minute bus ride, or if you’re adventurous, a 45 minute walk.
How to get back:
Where the bus line 1 dropped you off for the chateau, simply cross the street and pick up the bus there (it’s next to the cute little town square that has flowers and a fountain in it). The bus is still “ligne 1” and I think it says “gare” on it but I can’t remember.
|the pretty town square in Fontainebleau where you pick up the bus back to the train station|
Now, once at the train station, it’s pretty simple. Take the train back to Paris. There are only two tracks at this station, so it’s not too hard to figure out! Take any train that states “Gare de Lyon” as its destination.
The official Chateau de Fontainebleau website also has information about how to get there.
AND that concludes my trip to Paris. A little later I’ll write about my recommendations of where I shopped, what I ate, and where I stayed, but for now I’m going to blog about some recipes and seasonal things. Also, I’m in the process of moving and these Paris posts take a long time to put together.
If you’ve missed a Paris trip post, catch them ALL RIGHT HERE !