A Hidden Gem in Paris’s Backyard

Apr 21st, 2016, 12:43 AM
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A Hidden Gem in Paris’s Backyard

Fontainebleau is around 55 km south of the Paris city center. The Château de Fontainebleau is the center of the historic town and it is now a national museum and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Compared with the world-renowned Versailles, the palace itself offers nothing less but also housed an abundance of magnificent works of art and a mindfully crafted back garden. What makes me enjoy the palace more is the quietness of being away from the crowd and truly appreciate the regality of the ancient French kings in the 16th / 17th century. Photos and blog - http://wp.me/p5Lw9a-jo

I wasn’t very much aware of what to expect before I stepped into the museum (and also I did try to keep an element of surprise without studying too much about the interior of the palace.). In the end, I was pleased that the palace was actually richly decorated in royal and imperial symbolism – the exquisite tapestries, artistic sculptures and bold chandeliers were just overwhelming. In fact, walking through the palace is like walking through a time tunnel as the room shifted in styles, decorated in different eras – From Louis XIII to Napoleon.

Although Versailles has been the center of attention for French palaces – Fontainebleau is certainly not to miss!

For the photos and details, welcome to! http://wp.me/p5Lw9a-jo
Malk is offline  
Apr 21st, 2016, 01:00 AM
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You could just as well châteaux Chantilly and Vaux le Vicomte.


http://www.domainedechantilly.com/en/
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/
Sarastro is offline  
Apr 21st, 2016, 02:02 AM
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We haven't actually been hiding these places. The problem (if any) is that most tourists choose to follow the biggest crowds.
kerouac is offline  
Apr 21st, 2016, 02:34 AM
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I don't consider Fontainebleau to be hidden at all, but yes, it's well worth a visit. I first saw it 35 years ago and have been back several times. I'll be perfectly content never to visit Versailles again, though it's entirely understandable that people want to see it.
StCirq is offline  
Apr 21st, 2016, 07:36 AM
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The nearby village of Samois sur Seine is home at the end of June each year to the Django Reinhardt jazz festival, a small and intense celebration of string-band swing. The island site is easily reached by a shuttle from the Fontainebleau train station. http://www.festivaldjangoreinhardt.c...hp?article1255
Southam is offline  
Apr 21st, 2016, 12:32 PM
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Fontainebleu is delightful but I would not put it in the league of Versailles - for one thing there is no vast gardens (well the usual chateau gardens) or park adjacent to the palace when I was there - there is the Forest of Fontainebleu with famous artists towns that few see either.

Fontainebleu was nice the three times I've been there but to me it lacked some kind of grandeur I expected - royal grandeur of which Versailles drips all over.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 21st, 2016, 12:55 PM
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Yes, but Versailles is to some of us so over-the-top as to be almost as revolting as the Vatican Museums. FontaineBLEAU (it's not blue) is enchanting, and by comparison, "normal."
StCirq is offline  
Apr 21st, 2016, 01:53 PM
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Sure it is not Fontaineblue ?
With Notre Damn and Sacré Couer close to St Germaine ?

A little bit further is Pierrefonds, but I read it wasn't worth a visit since a series (Merlin ?) was stopped...
Whathello is offline  
Apr 21st, 2016, 02:01 PM
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I do not care for the Versailles Palace tours - too mobbed and a bunch of old rags and paintings on the walls and old furnishings, etc - yes the place reeks of history and royals but what I love about Versailles is the vast park and gardens - and things like Marie Antoinette' Petit Hameau where she allegedly used to dress up like a shepherd and play peasant farm maid in this re-created small farm.And the gardens near the chateau are marvelous - on weekends the Musical Gardens have water fountains splish splashing water to piped in classical music.

Yes the palace tour can be more something to survive than enjoy (try to get a more personal tour maybe) but the whole vast park and gardens are unparalleled at Fontainebleu (at least reachable from the chateau). I spent a few hours at Fontainebleu - I've spent several whole days at Versailles - and the town of Versailles is way way nicer than Avon and Fontaineblue - the twin towns the chateau is in - at Versailles you have some ancient quarters smack next to the chateau that were residences of folks visiting the Court of Versailles (it was the king's seat of power after fleeing the rabble and garbage in Paris for the safety and calmness of the countryside).

Here you can see where emissaries like Benjamin Franklin held his court and other lavish old townhouses and a lovely square- and the modern day town of Versailles is a charmer too that few people take time to explore - there is a Les Halles-type wrought iron market shed if I recall correctly and a lively market and lots of cafes, etc- a veritable small town feeling.

So Fontainebleu for a few hours for most visitors or all day seeing varied things at Versailles and not just the chateau. And Versailles is about a fairly short metro/RER ride from the heart of Paris right to within a few blocks of the gates of the palace - Fontainebleu is about an hour or so by suburban train to Avon station, about a mile from the chateau.

None of this is to denigrate Fontainebleu - which in NO way is any hidden gem - it is only of the most visited chateaus in France - folks with cars heading SE of Paris can easily stop by it.

Versailles should be near the top of everyone's list for Paris sights - it's so iconic you must see it - if not you will always wonder... but Fontainebleu is really nice too but I would not advise substituting it for Versailles for the common tourist.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 12:53 AM
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A rough comparison
6 million people visit Versailles every year
Chateau de Fontainebleau, 300 thousand a year.
Malk is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 01:11 AM
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6 millions people are thus wrong.
per year.
;-)

And Malk, why do you keep using the french way of writing Fontainebleau ? Snobism ?
Whathello is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 06:31 AM
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Sure it is not Fontaineblue?

I am sure that it is Fontaineblue among those who do not know any better.
Sarastro is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 06:41 AM
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PalenQ - you seem to have somewhat of a disdain for the monarchy and an overabundant love of parks as the British do.

Playing milkmaid might have been fun for Marie-Antoinette, but since no tourists get to enter her little buildings, it's quite a disappointment for them when they get there.

Trees and gardens are everywhere and really aren't much different from one another, depending on the period and country. It's just a bunch of green, then red, yellow, blue (bleu, blau)...many people would be bored to tears. But if all you want to do is sit on your keister after taking all the trouble to go out to Versailles, so be it.
fuzzbucket is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 10:06 AM
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How about the weekend water gardens playing at Versailles with classical music as a background - don't tip your fancy either.

Yes a park is a park is a park is a park Gertrude Stein may have penned and I can agree with that!
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 10:53 AM
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The Vatican Museums are revolting?
Belinda is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 11:37 AM
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To me, yes, they are revolting. Sell a few urns, why don't you, and save half of Africa.
StCirq is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 11:47 AM
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Do you feel the same way about the British Museum and the Louvre?
Belinda is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 12:05 PM
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No.
StCirq is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2016, 12:21 PM
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Yes the Vatican museums are also to me way over-rated - well a nice museum but sans the Sistine Chapel a lot fewer folks would go there - long long lines - boring displays.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2016, 02:03 PM
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The British Museum should give back those marbles to Greece and the purloined other stuff that are primo attractions - it was theft pure and simple in the case of the Parthenon marbles and many other artifacts that were brought back to London by British thieves during the heyday of the British Empire.

Crime never pays? Well it does in this case.
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