What is the Château de Fontainebleau and the Fontainebleau Forest?

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Château de Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau is a stunning location that is often favoured by Parisians who are looking to get away for the weekend. For a group of people with such high standards, this is the first indication that this is an area well worth discovering!

The Château de Fontainebleau is an enormous building with more than 1500 rooms. For more than 800 years, this incredible castle was home to the French royal family who classed this as one of their family homes; and it’s no wonder with all that space.

The castle dates back to Mediaeval times but there were some serious renovations back in the 1500s. At this time, Italian architecture and design was in fashion and so the castle was largely redeveloped in this style.

But if you look closely especially at the keep then you will notice many of the original aspects of the castle that still remain.

One of the most notable things about the Château de Fontainebleau is that it was where the French royal court, from 1528 onwards, developed the concepts that became known as the Renaissance.

From this very castle, new ideas and concepts were brought to life in something that is now considered to be one of the most important moments in all French history.

As well as having this beautiful large castle to explore, visitors are also treated to more than 130 hectares of perfectly manicured gardens and parks.

Read our Guide: The Best Castles in France

You will find four courtyards which are formed by the various buildings that make up the castle. In addition to this, there are three gardens each designed with features from the eras that the castle has proudly stood.

If you’ve got a thing for fishing, you couldn’t visit the Château de Fontainebleau without taking in the amazing carp pond here. Originally built as a way of draining excess water from the castle grounds, the carp pond is now one of the major attractions with a stunning octagonal brick pavilion on its banks.

What is the Fontainebleau forest?

Fontainebleau is renowned for the large and scenic forest of Fontainebleau, a favourite weekend getaway for Parisians, as well as for the historical château de Fontainebleau, which once belonged to the kings of France.

It is also the home of INSEAD, one of the world’s most elite business schools; of the École supérieure d’ingénieurs en informatique et génie des télécommunications (ESIGETEL), one of France’s Grandes écoles; and of a branch of the École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris (the Paris School of Mines), also one of the elite Grandes écoles.

Fontainebleau Forest

Protected by France’s Office National des Forêts, the forest of Fontainebleau encompasses the town and numerous nearby villages, and is recognised as a French national park.

It is managed in order that its wild plants and trees, such as the rare Service Tree of Fontainebleau, and its populations of birds, mammals, and butterflies, can be conserved. It is a former royal hunting park often visited by walkers and horse riders.

The forest is also well regarded for bouldering and is particularly popular among climbers, as the biggest developed area of that kind in the world.

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