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Chateau de Fontainebleau - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

The Château de Fontainebleau can proudly claim to have been a sovereign residence for eight centuries. Capétiens, Valois, Bourbons, Bonaparte and Orléans, all members of French ruling dynasties, have lived within the walls. Kings and queens, emperors and empresses have all striven to make their own improvements to the château built around the original keep. The estate quickly became a huge palace in which many momentous historical events have played out.

Just 55km from the centre of Paris this immense palace simply oozes history.

500 years older than Versailles. The original chapel was consecrated by Thomas Becket, also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury and Thomas à Becket. This incredible place has more than 1500 rooms and is the only royal and imperial chateau in France that has been continuously inhabited for eight centuries. From the 12th Century, what was a royal hunting lodge in a vast forest was renovated, extended and embellished by various Kings, Queens Emperors and Empresses until it became the extraordinary, enormous castle you can visit and see at today.

You can’t visit all 1500 rooms but there are plenty to keep even the most hardened chateau lover occupied for an entire day or longer. Set in the heart of 130 acres of parkland and gardens at the heart of a forest in the Île-de-Franc, A visit to Fontainebleau opens up a wonderful outlook on French history, art and architecture.

Thanks to all those Royal and Imperial home owners, Fontainebleau is a bit of a potpourri of styles, sometimes informal, sometimes grandiose. The mismatch in styles gives it a very real, unique charm. From the outside, there is no real indication of just what glories are to be found once you get through the ticket office and go inside.

16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Century styles and fashions co-exist and it works perfectly. It’s a castle that is not just picture book history but a place where you really get a strong feeling that real people from history lived here.

In one room there is a bed which Marie-Antoinette commissioned especially for the room. She never got to sleep on it; she lost her head before she had the chance. The décor of Marie Antoinette’s rooms is so elegant and delicate that you can’t help imagining that it reflects her personality as well as her taste. Did she stand there and point out the intricate patterns to her ladies-in-waiting? The Queen’s boudoir is extraordinary, a fantasy room with a ceiling painted to look like a sky and where the desk and side table remain in their original place and you know that the queen herself used these pieces and they looked then as they do now.

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