Thinking about discovering or re-discovering a jewel of French heritage, the Château de Fontainebleau? Are you keen on history, architecture, or passionate about French royalty? Without a doubt, we recommend this timeless visit which is made for everyone.
What we liked
- The legendary graphic Horseshoe staircase
- The Francis I Gallery
- The splendid courtyards, castle grounds and royal gardens
- The rich history of the place which goes back to the 12th century
What we didn’t like as much
- The castle location; it’s a bit far from Paris
What is the Château de Fontainebleau?
Located outside Paris, in the Seine et Marne region, the Château de Fontainebleau is surrounded by the 22,000 hectares of the Fontainebleau Public Forest.
As a true little Château de Versailles, the Château de Fontainebleau is a royal and imperial castle of medieval, renaissance and classical styles.
It was Francis I who made it his favorite royal residence until Napoleon III.
The Creation of the Castle
The first traces of a castle in Fontainebleau date back to the 12th century under the reign of Louis VII.
The exact date of construction remains unknown but the traces of a fortified castle at the exact place where the Château de Fontainebleau now stands are mentioned in French history.
The multiple influences of the Kings of France, who each made their contribution to the structure, make this building a true jewel of French royalty.
Indeed, it is the only French castle where the sovereigns have continuously lived from the 12th to the 19th century.
In the sixteenth century, Francis I wanted to create “a new Rome” in Fontainebleau and decided to dedicate the castle to the combination of Italian art and French tradition.
Italian artists therefore came to express their architectural and decorative talents at the Château de Fontainebleau.
Richly furnished, the castle hosts some of the most beautiful pieces of French History, such as Napoleon’s throne and the original Horseshoe staircase, known throughout the world, added under the reign of Louis XIII and featuring the great and sublime Francis I Gallery as well as the Grands Appartements.
800 years of history are at your disposal and nearly 30,000 works of art ranging from the 16th to the 19th century are sharing their secrets with you.
There are more than 1,500 rooms to admire when you come to the Château de Fontainebleau.
It is the second-largest castle in France!
Exceptional collections can be seen in Fontainebleau; the castle holds masterpieces dating back to French royalty which take you through the different eras of French History.
After the visit, you can admire the large park that surrounds the castle and its three charming and very neat gardens, separated by the Avenue des Cascades.
You can stroll along Henry IV’s Grand Canal, along its length of 1.2 kilometers, walk around the fountain of Diana the Huntress dating back to the 17th century, stroll towards the carp pond overlooking the castle’s pavilion and up to the statue of the Tiber.
The 130 hectares of parks, courtyards and gardens of the Château de Fontainebleau will satisfy you in the best possible way.
Please note that the Imperial Theater, the Petits Apartments, the Apartments of Mme de Maintenon and the Turkish Boudoir are only accessible during guided tours.
How to get to the Château de Fontainebleau?
Take the TER train or the R line at Paris-Gare de Lyon (grandes lignes) towards Montargis, Montereau, or Laroche-Migennes, then get off at the Fontainebleau-Avon station.
Then, take the bus line 1 direction Les Lilas until the stop “Château“.
Average price for the trip: 10,50€ (about 1h, bus time included)
From Paris, take the A6 highway (Porte d’Orléans or Porte d’Italie) until the exit “Fontainebleau“.
Take the direction of Fontainebleau then follow the signs “Château“. There are several parking lots (free and paying) nearby, the one located next to the military equestrian school is generally free (about 50 meters from the entrance of the Château).
Average price for the trip: 6,50€ (about 1h, 70 km)
Visiting the Château de Fontainebleau
When is the best time to visit?
- Monday: 9:30am – 2pm (light crowd peak)
- Wednesday-Friday: 10am – 1:30pm (light crowd peak)
- Weekend: 9:30am – 12am (moderate crowd peak)
The castle is closed to visitors on Tuesdays but the park remains open 24/7 for a timeless stroll in a magnificent setting.
The castle is open from 9:30am to 5pm (October to March) and from 9:30am to 6pm (April to September).
Please note that some parts of the castle may close early.
- The Francis I Gallery, a true mini-Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors
- The famous Horseshoe staircase
- The throne room of Napoleon (the only one still existing)
- The gardens, courtyards and parks dating from different eras
- The palatial library
For an even more captivating experience, visit the gardens aboard the little train or in a horse-drawn carriage.
Take a boat on the carp pond for a romantic getaway, you will be sure to have tipped back a few centuries!
Do we need to book a guided tour?
A beautiful and complete visit of the Château de Fontainebleau takes at least 2 hours, but a guided tour is essential for people wishing to learn more about the history of the castle and to emphasize the royal and grandiose character of its architectural design and its majestic interior decorations.
Indeed, there are 4 different guided tours that will take you into the depths of the Château de Fontainebleau.
You will have the choice to visit the Petits Appartements, the Imperial Theater, the Turkish Boudoir or follow the discovery tour of the castle.
Buy your tickets
Tip: the visit of the castle is free for everyone every 1st Sunday of the month between September and June.
Tip: access to the castle is available with the Paris Museum Pass.
- For under 18 years old: Free
- For young people from 18 to 26 years old (reduced price): 11€
- For over 26 years old (full price): 13€
Please note that the purchase of a guided tour will allow you to benefit from the reduced entrance ticket price.
The visit of the Chinese museum requires the purchase of an additional 3€ ticket. It is also possible to rent a visio guide at the entrance for an additional 4€.
Great family tip: the educational team in collaboration with a French start-up company has created a fun application for children “Sur les pas de Napoléon à Fontainebleau” (“In the footsteps of Napoleon in Fontainebleau”). You’ll follow two little virtual heroes through the castle thanks to cartoons, games, quizzes… Remember to download it for 3.49€ (website in French). Other activities are available during the summer vacations and on weekends. You will find further information at the front desk.
For more information and to book a ticket, click here.
As Napoleon I liked to say, the Château de Fontainebleau remains a “true residence of kings, a house of centuries”.
We obviously recommend a visit to this castle where French history will continue to live through the centuries.
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