Château de Fontainebleau, France (with Map & Photos)

The Château de Fontainebleau (or Castle of Fontainebleau) is located in the city ​​of Fontainebleau, about 67 kilometers south of Paris, in France. Formerly it was used as a hunting lodge as well as a house.

Château de Fontainebleau France
Château de Fontainebleau France

The castle grounds occupy 53 hectares (130 acres) with parks and gardens. It has more than 1,500 uniquely decorated and furnished rooms, as well as three chapels and a theater. Today, the Château de Fontainebleau houses four museums, which are:

  • Chinese Museum: with treasures from the Far East. The museum includes diplomatic gifts from the Siam Ambassador when he visited Fontainebleau in 1861.

  • Napoleon I Museum: where you can see all kinds of articles related to the imperial family.

  • Gallery of paintings.

  • Furniture gallery.

Since its construction in the 11th century, the Château de Fontainebleau has been continuously inhabited by French royalty for eight centuries.

Château de Fontainebleau France
Château de Fontainebleau France

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1981, the Château de Fontainebleau has been used by all the important sovereigns of France. Some of the most famous inhabitants of the Château de Fontainebleau are Madame de Maintenon (the mistress and later the second wife of Louis XIV), Marie Antoinette, and Josephine de Beauharnais (the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte).

The Château de Fontainebleau was often the scene of important historical events.

Château de Fontainebleau France
Château de Fontainebleau France

For his coronation ceremony, Napoleon made Pope Pius VII come to Fontainebleau Castle. Here he had an apartment ready for him filled with art stolen from the Vatican. However, it was not his intention that the Pope crown him; Napoleon put the crown on his own head and then crowned Josephine. With this act, he wanted to indicate that he was not subordinate to the Pope.

Château de Fontainebleau France
Diana Fountain in the gardens of the Château de Fontainebleau

Later Bonaparte established his own throne room with impressive golden eagles inside the castle. Also, the end of Napoleon's reign took place at the Château de Fontainebleau. Here he signed his abdication and said goodbye to his troops from the castle steps.

The castle has been the backdrop for numerous international gatherings. There are five Fountaineblue treaties, the first being signed in 1785 by Emperor Joseph II and the Dutch Republic, and the last, Napoleon's abdication on April 11, 1814.

Château de Fontainebleau France
Stairs from which Napoleon said goodbye to his troops.

On the other hand, although the Palace of Versailles is more famous than the Château de Fontainebleau, French history really comes to life in the latter. Versailles was home to "only" three French kings, while for eight centuries all French monarchs were connected to Fontainebleau. Therefore, it is worth a visit.

History of the Château de Fontainebleau

The first castle built on the grounds of Fontainebleau was built in the early 12th century and expanded by Louis IX a century later. Only a single medieval tower survived the energetic Renaissance-style reconstruction carried out by Francis I of France, whose magnificent craftsmen, many of them brought from Italy, mixed Italian and French styles to create what is known as the First School of Fontainebleau. The Mona Lisa was once housed in the castle among other beautiful works of art in the royal collection.

Château de Fontainebleau France
Château de Fontainebleau

During the second half of the 16th century, the castle was expanded by Henry II of France, Catherine de Medici, and Henry IV of France, whose Flemish and French artists created the Second School of Fontainebleau. Even Louis XIV joined the act: it was he who hired the landscaper André Le Nôtre, famous for his work at Versailles, to redesign the gardens.

Fontainebleau was loved by Napoleon Bonaparte, who also did a good job of restoration. Napoleon III was another frequent visitor. During World War II, the castle became a German headquarters. After it was liberated by Allied forces under US General George Patton in 1944, part of the complex served as Allied and then NATO headquarters from 1945 to 1965.

Château de Fontainebleau Google Maps