Chateau de Fontainebleau

Just your average, quaint little summer hunting lodge, if you happen to be a king or emperor. The chateau was originally built in 1137 by King Louis VII a as hunting lodge and summer hang out in the Fontainebleau Forest, located about 50 miles south east of the heart of Paris. Ten additional monarchs and Napoleon I and III expanded the chateau to a grand palace and turned acres of woods surrounding the chateau into lush, sculpted gardens, lakes, fountains and canals. The grounds of the chateau are open for public exploration, and much of the palace is open for self-guided tours at a modest price.

The structure survived the Revolution, but the furniture was stripped from it. Napoleon I turned the chateau into his Imperial Residence, and much of the current decor and exhibits date to his tenure.

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Gallery of Francis I, 1500’s addition to Fontainebleau, connecting the King’s apartments to the chapel.

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The Royal Elephant fresco in the Francis I Galley.

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Huge 1830s Sevres porcelain vase in the Guard Room depicting creation of many great works of art, including da Vinci with the Mona Lisa.

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Chapel of the Trinity.

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The musician’s gallery in the grand ballroom.

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A view of the Chateau from across Carp Lake.

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Sculpture at the far side of Carp Lake of a young poacher – rabbit held over his head and dog at his feet.

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A view across the Grand Parterre.

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One of many side entrances to the Chateau.