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Can Someone Recommend a Tour to Fontainebleau

Can Someone Recommend a Tour to Fontainebleau

Nov 6th, 2002, 08:06 AM
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Can Someone Recommend a Tour to Fontainebleau

Hi, I'll be in Paris Dec. 23 and I wish to take a tour to Fontainebleau. Has anyone been on such a tour that they would recommend?

Thank you,

Nov 6th, 2002, 09:26 AM
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hi--i went from paris to fountainbleau this past summer. we just hopped a train (from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon then bus from station to chateau) and did our own little tour. the train ride was about 25 mins out of the city. there is lots to see around the castle--very nice shops and cafes. .very nice place to visit. we had lots of fun there--and no it didn't have anything to do with the lovely irish fellows we met!
Nov 6th, 2002, 12:15 PM
Bob Brown
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My first visit to Fontainebleau was part of a tour operated by Paris Vision that included also Vaux le Vicomte.
Quite a day of it.

Last September we did both chateaux, Vaux and Fontainebleau, on our own in one long day. (I felt all of 69, too, at the end of it.) We took the train from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau in the morning. Then we rode the city bus directly from the train station through the town to the gates of the palace. We returned to the train station the same way.

From Fontainebleau we went to Melun, which is on the same train line, and took a taxi from the station to Vaux le Vicomte - some $20.00 worth to get out there and another $20.00 back. (No bus option; and too far to walk.)

I have several comments. Given that you can subtract the cost of train fare and taxi rides from the cost of the guided tour, I suggest a guided tour for Vaux.

Our guide was very well informed and added enough value to the trip that her "take", plus tip, from the total tour price was worth it.

I am not sure I would repeat the double header tour, both chateau in one day, particularly when the days are so short.

Just for Fontainebleau alone, I think it might well be a toss up between a guided tour and free lancing. The good part about free lancing is that you can linger where you want, and wander where you want when you want.

The good thing about the Fontainebleau guided tour was the expert commentary of the guide. Books are available, as are audio guides. But there is something appealing about the presence of a very well informed guide who seemingly knows everything about the place and is willing to answer questions.

Why did we go back for a second look at both places?

Our first visit to both was too short to allow time to roam the grounds to our full satisfaction, and we were also intent on visiting Vaux le Vicomte at night when the candles are lit.

Having been there on a tour, we opted to free lance this one.
The night tour of Vaux le Vicomte was enchanting, but for a first visit, I think a daylight trip is indicated. In the dark, it is hard to see the full majesty of the design of the building and the gardens, even though spotlights were trained on parts of the garden.

Now, if you can do only one, choosing between the two is difficult.
I don't know which one I would do to the exclusion of the other.

Fontainebleau is a slice of history, and better known. Vaux is more beautiful, a superb blend of the artistry and craftsmanship of its 3 principal creators: le Brun, le Vau, and le Notre.

Been to Versailles? Those 3 men are forever linked to its design and creation. They are respectively the artist, the architect/engineer, and the landscaper.

If you opt for your own tour, check the train schedule. Some of the departures are express trains and get you to Fontainebleau rather quickly; others are locals and can take an hour or more.

Have some euro coins for the bus, and all will go swimmingly. There are plenty of places to eat along the streets of the town.

Nov 6th, 2002, 12:45 PM
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Thanks Bob for the excellant analysis. The overriding factor is the time of year, December, making daylight short. I could only find a tour to Fountainebleau not Vaux le Viconte. I believe the latter to be closed for the winter. We are returning to Versailles on another day but I was wondering if you (Bob) could suggest another day trip out of Paris?
Thank you again for your excellant reply,

Nov 6th, 2002, 01:31 PM
Eye Spy
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Another excellent day trip I like to take is a visit to Chartres. The first time I went there was on a Saturday in November 1988. The weather was a partly cloudy, a cool breeze, no tour buses. You could take the train from Gare Montparnasse (some trains are 56 minutes one way; others are 1 hr 10 min. one way), tour the fantastic cathedral, have lunch and walk around Chartres and go back to Paris. You will have visited one of the most famous cathedrals in the world with beautiful 'vitraux' -- even lovelier than Notre Dame's. If you drive, the vision of the cathedral rising out of the Beauce plain is fantastic. Other nice trips are Saint-Germain-en-Laye (RER Ligne A)(Louis XIV was born in the castle and SGenLaye is a nice town) or Rueil-Malmaison (also on Ligne A). To the north there's Chantilly with the castle and horse stables (ecuries) -- nice grounds. Just some ideas.
Nov 6th, 2002, 04:24 PM
Bob Brown
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Vaux le Vicomte is open only to group tours during the winter. I looked at the web site and the high season is from March 23 to November 11. November 12 through March 22 is the low season, and groups only.

So that leaves you with Fontainebleau.
I am not sure what I would do in that case. Being a freelancer at heart, and Fontainebleau is one of the easier freelances, I would have to investigate the tour more. If the guide is a good one, and most of them are because the business is so competitive, I think the guided tour might be my choice.
A good guide on a tour like that can make a major difference.

I think Chartre would be good, as indicated above. Giverny is closed
Rambouillet might be a good option.

I don't know if any of the chateau of the Loire would be an option on a day tour or not.

Some people like to run to Rouen and back in a day. It is possible.
It is a trip of just a little over an hour, with several trains daily.
Leave at 8:07 from St. Lazare, and be back in Paris before 9 PM>

Nov 6th, 2002, 05:44 PM
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Hi Michael,
Recommended tour to Fountainbleau is "CityRama Tours" (Check out their website for further details in December) located in Paris on the Rue de Rivoli." Have been to both...Fountainbleau and Vaux le Vicomte, both on separate days. Good tours, well equipped busses.
Regards, Francie
Nov 6th, 2002, 06:01 PM
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Off to Brussels soon. Has anyone stayed at the "Golden TULIP Grand Place
in the old center? Thanks?
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