With over 1500 rooms on 130 acres of parkland and gardens Fontainebleau is the only royal and imperial chateau to have been continuously inhabited over seven centuries, A visit opens up an unparalleled view of French history, art history and architecture.
It was an appropriately regal setting for Napoléon’s farewell to the troops on April 20, 1814 prior top leaving for exile on Elba.
Meanwhile, back at the chateau take a leisurely stroll through the Galerie François I. A showcase for the Renaissance in France, the Francis I Gallery in the Château de Fontainebleau (post-1528) served as a model for future generations of artists. It pre-dates the Apollo Gallery in the Louvre (post-1661) and the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles (post-1678).
Trained in the workshop of Jacques-Louis David, François Gérard distinguished himself throughout his career as a portraitist. From 1795 until his death , he experienced a success that few other masters of his time could claim. Combining elegance and psychological depth , early works from the painter were commissioned by clients seeking recognition. Orders placed by Bonaparte from 1800 gave him an official status.
Now official portraitist of the imperial family and the court, he multiplied the ambitious compositions in the vein of those great masters of the Old Regime, Hyacinthe Rigaud, Carle Vanloos or Duplessis, always attentive to the pageantry of a court who wanted the heir of the Bourbons .
Bringing together some 70 paintings and graphic works from public and private collections and several French museums in Europe , the Retrospective finally pays tribute to the one his contemporaries loved to nickname ” the painter of kings and the king of painters .”
The Royal Elephant, Rosso Fiorentino, fresco
Created in 1528 to link the royal apartments to the Trinitarian monastery, the Francis I Gallery was decorated by Florentine painter Rosso Fiorentino. The artist and his assistants painted a series of frescoes onto the richly sculpted stucco interior. The paintings were designed to celebrate the monarch, although their precise meaning is now hard to decipher. In the style of Michaelangelo and the Mannerists, the choice of animal in the Royal Elephant scene is designed to represent wisdom and royalty, whilst the stork at its feet represents filial devotion, thereby celebrating Francis I’s wisdom and virtue.
The château is open daily except for Tuesdays, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
From October to March : 9.30am – 5pm (last admissions at 4.15pm)
From April to September : 9.30am – 6pm (last admissions at 5.15pm)
The Courtyards and Gardens
From November to February : 9am – 5pm
March, April & October : 9am – 6pm
From May to September : 9am – 7pm
The Jardin de Diane and the Jardin Anglais close respectively half and hour and an hour before the times shown. Outside of the summer season, the Jardin Anglais may be closed. For further information, call : 01 60 71 50 70
Just 1 hour from Paris by train, Fontainebleau is a lovely day in the country.
Easily accessible buy train from the Gare de Lyon and then a short bus ride to the chateau- Best best is to buy a 1 day MOBILISE PASS at your nearest Paris metro station valid for the round trip to and from the chateau and metro and bus in Paris.