Fontainebleau: A beautiful day trip from Paris

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Paris has an abundance of things to do and see for the eager traveller. But if you need to balance the hustle and bustle of the big city with a sense of calm and quiet, it’s time to discover nearby Fontainebleau. Perfect for a day-trip, trains to Fontainebleau depart from Paris’s Gare de Lyon and whisk visitors a short 40-minute ride south-east of the city.

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Surrounded by 25,000 hectares of lush forest, Fontainebleau combines nature and history with lashings of country town charm. Start the day with an espresso at one of the cafes in the main street. The pace of life is slower here, so sit back and watch on as locals run errands and shop owners swing open their doors. Next stop is the village markets. Nestled in the heart of town, the markets take place on Tuesday, Fridays and Sundays from around 7.30am until just after midday. Browse the food stalls and grab some French cheese, cured meat and bread for a decadent morning picnic. There are also handfuls of fashion, jewellery and second-hand stores that are worth perusing for a bargain buy. As the markets begin to fizzle, take a stroll to the town’s biggest draw card, the stunning Chateau de Fontainebleau. This majestic palace was once home to Kings, Queens, emperors and empresses, and could easily take the better half of a day to explore.  

With its appearance evolving under each ruler, the style of this royal residence is a mash of French architecture between the 12th and 19th centuries. Take a self-guided tour with audio through the Papal Apartment, the Renaissance Rooms, the chapel, the sovereign Grands Appartements, the Diana Gallery and the Napoleon I Museum. You’ll be left to discover each area at your own pace yet still have access to interesting facts and important moments in the chateau’s history.

Don’t leave without wandering around the impressive gardens and courtyards that sprawl over 130 acres, and are meticulously tended to.

End your time in Fontainebleau with a walk around the picturesque village, stopping in to one of the brasseries for an apéro before jumping on the train back to Paris.

Not ready to leave? Rent a room, and turn the day trip into a weekend getaway. With over 180 miles of marked trails to tramp or ride in the surrounding forest, dedicate day two to exploring Fontainebleau’s lush natural landscape.

(Feature image: Gullhem Vellut)

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Fontainebleau: A beautiful day trip from Paris was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Claire Plush
Author: Claire Plush (36 posts)

I tell stories because I’m a photographer and a writer, blogging at claireplush.com. The past 9 years have been a hearty mixture of study, travel and new experiences, and have been split between Noosa, Raglan (New Zealand) and more recently, Paris.