Palace of Fontainebleau
Palace of Fontainebleau (77300 Fontainebleau) – located about 60 km. southeast of Paris, this was a residence of French royalty for eight centuries (starting in the 12th century). Kings and queens, and emperors and empresses, took great pains to embellish the palace, built around the original mediaeval dungeon. The palace and its park have been listed as UNESCO world heritage sites since 1981.
During the 16th century, François I (influenced by the Italian Renaissance) commissioned Italian artists to build the palace in its present form – which included the construction of the Great Gallery (with works by Italian artist Rosso Fiorentino — depicting stories from Greco-Roman mythology and allegories). Extensions commissioned by Henri IV included the Belle Cheminée wing and the Gallery of Stags, whose magnificent decorations were designed by a new generation of French artists. Fontainebleau was also resided by both Napoleon and Napoleon III during the 19th century (the former made a throne room for himself, while the latter had set up an imperial theater — which hosted private performances for him and his family). No doubt, Marie Antoinette’s two boudoirs are another draw for international visitors fascinated with her life and tragic death during the French Revolution. Hours (chateau): open daily except for Tuesday — 9:30 am – 5:00 pm (October – March), 9:30 am – 6:00 pm (April – September). Admission: €11 (full), €9 (reduced).