A Paris Fontainebleau day trip is an unforgettable outing! Nestled in the heart of Fontainebleau Forest, France’s Château de Fontainebleau was used as a residence for French monarchs and emperors over an 800-year period. Originally a hunting lodge built for the kings of France in the 12th century, the Château de Fontainebleau has been expanded, renovated, and embellished by successive monarchs over the centuries. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, the majestic 1500-room Château, with its rich history and stunning gardens makes for a great day trip from Paris.
Here are the answers to 7 frequently asked questions about a Paris Fontainebleau day trip:
1. A Paris To Fontainebleau Day Trip: FAQ
i. Where Is the Palace of Fontainebleau?
The Château of Fontainebleau is located at Place du Général de Gaulle in the town of Fontainebleau.
ii. How Far Is Fontainebleau From Paris?
Fontainebleau is 65 km (40 miles) southeast of Paris.
iii. Paris To Fontainebleau By Train
From Gare de Lyon, find the TER (regional train) R. It is the pink railway line and you will see signs showing a pink square with an R in the middle.
The Paris Fontainebleau train trip takes 45 minutes from Paris-Gare de Lyon. Take the “Grandes Lignes” in the direction of Montargis, Montereau or Laroche-Migennes. Get off at the station Fontainebleau-Avon. Using the same ticket, take Bus #1 (direction: Les Lilas) and get off at “Château.”
Pro Travel Tip: It took us quite a few minutes to find the TER R at Gare de Lyon. Be sure to go to Hall 1 where the “Grandes Lignes” trains leave from.
iv. When Is The Château de Fontainebleau Open?
The Château de Fontainebleau is closed on Tuesdays and on January 1, May 1, and December 25.
Opening Hours Château de Fontainebleau:
October to March from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
April to September from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm
Opening Hours Courtyards and Gardens:
Access to the courtyards and gardens, open daily, is free.
November to February from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
March, April, and October from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
May to September from 9:00 am to 7:00
v. How Much Does Entry To The Château de Fontainebleau Cost?
Purchase your Priority Entrance Ticket for €14. Although the Château de Fontainebleau is not usually crowded, there is a certain comfort in having your ticket already purchased before arrival.
Pro Travel Tips:
Entry to the Château de Fontainebleau is included with the Paris Museum Pass.
Entry to the Château de Fontainebleau is free on the first Sunday of each month, except July and August.
Guided Tours Of The Château de Fontainebleau:
- Tours of the Château de Fontainebleau (€33) which include the Imperial Theatre, Les Petits Appartements, and Marie Antoinette’s Turkish Boudoir (only available on the guided tours that originate at the Château de Fontainebleau). In order to best benefit from these tours, it is advisable to plan a full-day Paris Fontainebleau day trip.
- This full-day trip from Paris includes two French châteaux: the Château de Fontainebleau and the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Book my Ticket
- You might prefer a private guided 2-hour tour of the Château de Fontainebleau.
vi. Where Can We Eat At The Château de Fontainebleau?
The town of Fontainebleau has plenty of cafés and restaurants just a few minutes walk from the gates of the Château de Fontainebleau. If you prefer to have lunch at the Château de Fontainebleau, why not try the Café des Mariniers or the restaurant Les Petites Bouches de l’Empereur. There are also stands selling sandwiches and cold drinks. Or why not bring a picnic to eat in the gardens?
vii. Can I bring a dog to the Château de Fontainebleau?
Dogs are not allowed at the Château de Fontainebleau, even in the gardens.
2. The Château de Fontainebleau: A Little History
The Château de Fontainebleau’s origins trace back to the 12th century when it was originally used as a hunting lodge for French monarchs. Over the years, it has been expanded and transformed by various kings, emperors, and queens, resulting in an unparalleled blend of Renaissance and classical architecture.
With 800 years of history, here are a few key historical points to know before your Paris Fontainebleau Day Trip:
- In the 16th century, King François I (1494-1547) remodelled and updated the Château de Fontainebleau in the French Renaissance style. He received many state visits at Château de Fontainebleau. The castle was still under construction when he died.
- King Henry II (1519-1599) was the heir to King François I. He continued to make the Château de Fontainebleau the main residence of the monarchy.
- King Louis XIII (1601-1643) was born and baptized at the château.
- From Louis XV (1710-1774) to Marie Antoinette (1775-1793) there were three magnificent additions to the Château de Fontainebleau – the dazzling Council Chamber, the boudoir of Queen Marie-Antoinette, and the Turkish Boudoir.
- Under Napoleon I (1769-1821) the Château de Fontainebleau recovered its splendour after it was emptied of furniture during the French Revolution.
- Napoleon I stood on the famous staircase and bid farewell to the Old Guard on April 20th, 1814 before his abdication to the island of Elba.
- Under Napoleon III (1808-1873) and Princess Eugenie (1826-1920) the 400-seat Imperial Theatre was added in 1854.
Edicts Signed At The Château de Fontainebleau:
- The Edict of Fontainebleau was signed on June 1, 1540, by King François I. This was the first of many edicts persecuting French Protestants. The Edict of Nantes was signed in 1598 to grant religious liberty to Protestants. This ended the French Wars of Religions.
- In 1685, King Louis XIV signed another Edict of Fontainebleau revoking the Edict of Nantes (1598) and ending the religious freedom of French protestants.
3. A Paris Fontainebleau Day Trip: The Must-Sees
On a Paris Fontainebleau day trip, one can explore the Château de Fontainebleau’s many grand halls, royal apartments, the Napoleon I museum, and exquisite gardens. These are all included in the entrance. Take the audio guide in order to find out about the rich history of the castle.
Pro Travel Tip: If you have your heart set on the magnificent Imperial Theatre added by Napoleon III, Les Petits Appartements, and Marie Antoinette’s Turkish Boudoir, you have to book a tour on the Château de Fontainebleau website.
The Horseshoe Staircase At The Château de Fontainebleau
For years the stunning and historical Horseshoe Staircase at the Château de Fontainebleau was in terrible shape. Made from porous sandstone, it had turned black since its debut in 1632. When I made the Paris Fontainebleau Day Trip in the spring of 2023, the Horseshoe Staircase was gleaming white and remarkable after its long restoration project.
It’s easy to imagine a princess sweeping up the 46 steps in a long elegant gown and being welcomed by a French king. One can visualize horse-drawn carriages pulling up in front of the magnificent staircase. And, it’s not hard to think of Napoleon I bidding farewell to the Old Guard on April 20th, 1814 before his abdication to the island of Elba.
Visitors today do not enter the Château de Fontainebleau at the top of the staircase but are welcome to spend some time climbing and admiring the Horseshoe Staircase. It makes for great photo opportunities!
Paris Fontainebleau Day Trip: The Grand Apartments
One cannot help but feel awe-struck upon entering the Grand Apartments. These opulent living quarters were once inhabited by some of France’s most iconic figures, including Napoleon Bonaparte himself. As you stroll through each room adorned with intricate tapestries, gilded ceilings, and priceless artwork, it becomes clear why this palace served as a symbol of power throughout history.
François Ier Gallery
The François I Gallery is truly mesmerizing. It was commissioned by King François I in the early 16th century as a tribute to his own magnificence and love for the arts. Marvel at incredible Italian Renaissance-inspired frescoes showcasing mythological tales, the elegant chandeliers, the F and the salamanders seen on the wooden panelling reminding us of just who commissioned this gallery!
Paris Fontainebleau Day Trip: The Royal Chapel Of The Trinity
This magnificent chapel in the Château de Fontainebleau is breathtaking. Evidently, this chapel witnessed many historic events such as the marriage of Louis XV to Maria Leczinska in 1725.
Paris Fontainebleau Day Trip: The Library
How I would have loved to stroll past the ancient books lining the walls of this library. With over 20 000 volumes, there are more than a few bookworms who would love to spend time here. Only able to admire the library from the doorway, suffice it to say that the palace library has been in this grand location since 1858.
The Napoleon I Museum
Whether you are well versed on Napoleon I and his reign or not, the museum, dedicated to the Emperor, is a fascinating look at Napoleon’s ten-year reign. The Napoleon I Museum has over 500 artefacts from this chapter of French history. The story of Naploeon’s second marriage to the Austrian princess Marie-Louise is told along with featuring the cradle and baby toys used by Napoleon’s sole heir.
4. Paris Fontainebleau Day Trip: The Parks And Gardens
The Château de Fontainebleau is impressive with its 130 hectares (321 acres) of parks and gardens. On a Paris Fontainebleau day trip be sure to spend some time gazing at the canal, wandering through the English Garden and the Garden of Diana. Sitting by the various ponds and fountains provides a lovely element to the day.
Be sure to note the Grand Parterre which at 27 acres/ 11 hectares is the largest formal garden in Europe. Designed between 1660 and 1664 by renowned French landscape artist André le Notre and French architect Louis le Vau, both of whom had a huge hand in the Chateau of Versailles.
5. Other Things To Do At The Château de Fontainebleau
On a Paris Fontainebleau day trip, why not:
- Rent a Rowboat on the Carps Pond (the Etang aux Carpes) for an exceptional view of the Château de Fontainebleau (and of course some fun!)
- Take The Tourist Train for a 35-minute ride around the castle grounds. Excursions start at 12 pm in the Court of Honour across from the Horseshoe Staircase.
- Take a Horse Drawn Carriage ride for 20 minutes through the park of the castle. Meet the carriages inside the Grand Parterre.
6. The Forest Of Fontainebleau
Surrounding the Château de Fontainebleau is the Forest of Fontainebleau. The extensive National Forest of Fontainebleau is 25000 hectares (over 6000 acres) and is the second-largest national forest in France. The Forest of Fontainebleau is full of marked trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. It is the perfect place for a different kind of Paris Fontainebleau day trip!
I hope you enjoy your Paris Fontainebleau day trip as much as I did. The grandeur and history of the Château de Fontainebleau leave a lasting impression.
Until next time,
More Travel Info
Once you have enjoyed your Paris Fontainebleau day trip, why not consider one of my other recommended day trips from Paris?
Or stay in Paris and wander to your heart’s content on one of these Paris streets or in one of these neighbourhoods:
- le Marais – Place des Vosges, gorgeous mansions, shopping…
- Saint Germain des Prés – iconic left bank Paris
- Ile de la Cité – the heartbeat of Paris
- Ile Saint-Louis – oldest village in Paris…
- Montmartre – Sacré Coeur, staircases and oozing charm…
- the 7th arrondissement – Eiffel Tower & views, La Grande Epicierie…
- Canal Saint-Martin – iron bridges, boutiques, wine by the canal