Oh Paris, the city of love! A city that is undoubtedly on everyone’s bucket list.
When you’re ready for a day trip from Paris, Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris is the perfect escape from the city.
Not only is it located in a super quaint village in France, but the house and grounds are immaculate!
Keep reading to discover the 10 reasons that you should visit Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris, and why you should make it part of your Paris itinerary like we did during our 3 Days in Paris.
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Reasons to Visit Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris
1. Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris is WAY less crowded than Versailles.
Really, friends, Versailles gets overrun with tourists. Everyone wants to see the famous palace, and we understand that, but Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris is just as magnificent and far less crowded.
Over 5 million people visit the Palace of Versailles every year. That is a lot of people to contend with. While the Chateau Fountainebleau isn’t unknown, it has far fewer visitors annually, making for a much for a pleasant experience while you are visiting.
2. Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris is easy to get to from Paris.
Leave from the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris and take the train to Montargis Sens or Montereau (stopping in Fontainebleau-Avon).
When you arrive at the train station in Fontainebleau, head out front and catch the “Ligne 1” bus heading to the Chateau (they are all clearly marked). When we went, the roundtrip train ride and the bus ticket were less than $20/person.
The bus will drop you off just outside of Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris’ gates, making it easy for you to walk inside.
If you prefer someone to organize the trip for you, consider taking this trip from Viator. They will pick provide transportation from Paris and your entry ticket into the chateau. You just sit back and relax!
3. Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris is full of history.
Chateau Fontainebleau has been a residence for eight centuries! Many French ruling families have lived within its walls and expanded the Chateau to make the palace their own.
This was the home of Napoleon III and Marie Antoinette! Of course, all of the families that resided here were royalty, but some other noteworthy residents included Henri II and his wife Catherine de Medici, which you probably know as being part of the powerful de Medici family from Florence.
The Chateau Fountainebleau predates the Louvre by over 50 years, and Versailles by more than five centuries. It is said that Thomas Becket consecrated the original chapel in 1169!
Some of France’s greatest architects have contributed to the structure of Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris at some point in their careers. You will notice the different architectural styles when you visit.
Despite the additions and changes over time, the architects did a fabulous job of integrating all of these styles together to make the beautiful chateau that greets visitors today.
If you are interested in learning more about Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris’ history, visit the Chateau’s website.
4. Take a photo on the famous horseshoe-shaped staircase.
All of the architecture at the Chateau was amazing, but I especially loved this staircase! This gorgeous piece of architecture was constructed for Louis XIII. It was here that Napoleon took a final salute from his guards. Man, if this staircase could talk!
This is the perfect place at Chateau Fountainebleau to catch some awesome Instagram photos! All of your friends will be jealous. LOL!
Want an even better photo? Then take to the skies with a one-hour hot air balloon ride over the chateau! Your sweetie won’t see that surprise coming!
5. See Marie Antoinette’s bed and Napoleon’s throne
Marie Antoinette is said to have considered Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris a respite retreat in the country after being at Versailles. The rules and expectations around being in court at Versailles could be exhausting, but Chateau Fontainebleau was a nice escape from all of this.
Marie Antoinette created two gorgeous spaces here in the chateau that allowed for the women of the chateau to gather and enjoy themselves before stepping out into public. She created a Turkish boudoir where she would entertain a close circle of friends.
Her second space was the silver boudoir which was given to her by her husband, Louis XVI. You visit the silver boudoir toward the end of your self-guided tour. Don’t overlook it as it has some beautiful antiques.
Napoleon’s throne room is another incredible room that you can see at Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris. As requested in 1805 by Napoleon I, the throne room is the only such room in France that is still in its original state.
Napoleon’s throne is housed in what was formerly the King’s Chamber. The luxurious fabrics and the opulent decor demand attention and respect. The throne was installed in the alcove that was once where the king’s bed was, making this a truly unique throne room.
It’s important to note that Napoleon’s coronation was done by Pope Pius VII right here in Chateau Fountainebleau, just adding to the lush history of this beautiful chateau.
6. Be amazed as you stroll through the Galleries and Theatre
Don’t rush through your tour of Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris. I know it is vast, but take time to relax and take it all in. The opulent decor and the amazing architecture will have you mesmerized.
One of the most famous galleries of the chateau is the Francois I gallery. This passage is 200 feet by 20 feet and leads you from the front of the chateau to its interior is spectacular.
Keeping the key to the inner sanctum around his neck, Francois I only allowed certain visitors to experience this area. Honestly, I can see why. While making your way through, you are surrounded by stunning works of art from Italian masters.
The frescos and life-size figures all seem to have found their place in history and stand just waiting to be viewed.
Take time to really enjoy this space. Notice the view of the pond out of the windows and imagine what it would have been like to be in this amazing place as your country is emerging from the Middle Ages.
Of course, this is just one of the beautiful galleries in the chateau. During your visit, you will have the opportunity to see not only the Francois I gallery, but there are many other delightful and historic places throughout the home.
The galleries include The Galerie de Diane, The Galerie des Cerfs, The Galerie des Colonnes, and the Imperial Theatre.
7. Tour the Four Museums
In addition to the beautiful architecture and the opulent surrounding of the home, you can also visit the four museums that are housed within the Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris. These Museums include The Empress’ Chinese Museum, The Napoleon Museum, The Galerie de Peinture, and The Furniture Gallery.
The Empress’ Chinese Museum houses the Far-Eastern collection of Empress Eugenie. The majority of these pieces were acquired either during the Sack of the Summer Palace in Beijing by French and British soldiers.
The Napoleon Museum has a wide variety of artifacts on display for you to view. These include furniture, priceless paintings, gold and silver, arms, costumes, and historical documents.
The Galerie de Peinture, the Paintings Gallery, includes pieces that have been removed from the house because they no longer went with the decor and pieces from the Louvre that dates back to the 17th century.
The Furniture Gallery allows visitors to see the beautiful antique pieces of furniture that have been called the Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris home over the years.
While touring the museum, it felt as if we were surrounded by priceless treasures, probably because we were, as we roamed through the museums. My favorite was the Napoleon museum.
8. Visit the three historic Chapels.
The Chateau has three chapels, The Chapel of the Trinity, The chapelle basse Saint-Saturnin, and the chapelle haute Saint-Saturnin.
The Chapel of the Trinity was formerly a monastery church belonging to the Mathurin monks. Francis I reannex the chapel to The Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris.
The chapelle basse Saint-Saturnin was consecrated by Saint Thomas Becket in 1169. Although this disappeared under the rule of Francis I, it was later rebuilt under Louis-Philippe I who redesigned the chapel for his daughter.
The royal chapel, the chapelle haute Saint-Saturnin, or the chapelle haute, is a two-story chapel housed in the chateau. The upper chapel was designed to be illuminated from all sides. While all of the chapels are gorgeous, the original chapel, the Cour Ovale, is breathtaking.
Although the chateau offers audio guides, this would have been a great place to have a private guide lead by an art historian.
I so wish we would have booked this trip so that we could have a true insight into all of the beauty and history that we were seeing in Chateau Fontainebleau.
9. Get lost in the gardens.
There are four main gardens at the chateau, all of which have their own character and uniqueness. The bus will drop you off at the Jardin de Diane. The Jardin de Diane has a statue of Diane the Huntress dating back to Henry IV.
The courtyards and gardens include the Cour Ovale, the Cour de la Fontaine, the Cour d’Honneur, the Cour des Offices, the Grand Parterre, the Jardin Anglais, the Jardin de Diane, the Grotte des Pins, the Pavillion de l’Etang, the Park.
While all of the courtyards and gardens are lovely, there are a few that are worth mentioning in more detail. These include the Cour Ovale marks the area where the original Chateau Fountainebleau Paris.
It is the center point of which all of the buildings span out to create the beautiful chateau that you see before you today. The Cour d’Honneur is interesting in the fact that it is closed off on three sides and looks out over the town to the west.
The Grand Parterre is the largest formal garden in all of Europe and is definitely worth some of your time during your visit to the Chateau Fontainebleau, Paris. The largest outdoor area of the chateau, the Park, covers 130 hectares.
Honestly, the gardens at the Chateau were the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. We walked across the street to a little cafe and bought a Croque Monsieur and then came back into the gardens for a picnic lunch.
Marty and I munched our sandwich in front of the carp pond while watching the swans swim around and the lovers paddle through the pond on their rented boats. It was perfect!
10. Roam around the town of Fontainebleau
While you’re here, be sure and visit the town surrounding. The “Ligne 1” bus just makes a big circle around the town, so hop back on and explore. There are quaint cafes and charming shops to do some shopping in.
Friends, this was truly a magical day for Marty and I. I was apprehensive at first to visit the Chateau because I was afraid it would be so closed off and too much of a museum feel…boy was I wrong!
I strongly recommend that you take this trip and enjoy some time at Chateau Fontainebleau. You won’t regret it!
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Final Thoughts on Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris
I would highly recommend a visit to the Chateau Fountainebleau, Paris to be on your Paris itinerary.
The lack of crowds combined with the beautiful chateau and gardens makes this a fabulous getaway from the big city during your visit to Paris.
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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight:
We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best prices on flights. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines all over the world to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.
Book Your Vacation Package:
If you want to book an entire vacation package, then we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.
Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!
For full guided vacations including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all of your needs while ensuring that you have a great experience.
Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop-shop.”
Book Your Accommodations:
We always begin our search by checking out the honest review on hotels at TripAdvisor. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site as well!
There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it gives you a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.
Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!
If you are looking for a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, then consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.
Tour Companies We Trust:
We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!
CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.
Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.
Looking to Save Time and Money?
Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!
About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.