Royal Town and Holiday Residence, laid out between the palace and the forest, Fontainebleau has welcomed nobility for centuries. Since Medieval times, 34 sovereigns successively used the Palace. Both buildings and history have been built up over time like the warp and woof of a tapestry.
Today, the "Maison des Siècles" palace and the forest are a UNESCO world heritage site.
Built at the gate of the château to lodge members of the court and supply the palace, the town of Fontainebleau has preserved all the aspects of a town of kings and emperors.
Fontainebleau is a pleasant place to live, protected by the surrounding forest which, for centuries, has everything to offer; a plethora of sporting and cultural activities.
The royal town with its historic buildings, château, squares and sumptuous theatre is well worth a visit, with lots to learn about culture. Together with the forest and park, it is an ideal destination for walkers, trekkers, and climbing enthusiasts. During your visit you can also explore the history of the streets of Fontainebleau.
With the magnificent "Grand Parquet" site and the racecourse, it has become a "riding capital", hosting prestigious equestrian meetings.
Things to do and places to visit:
Napoleonic Museum of Art and Military History
A huge reproduction of Napoleon's farewell to his faithful Old Guard greets the visitor on arrival. This sets the tone for the rest of the visit, with over 3,500 exhibits: figures, clothes and weapons are displayed to portray a vast historical fresco of the Napoleonic era.
The Fontainebleau national prison museum, unique in Europe
Until 1990, the Fontainebleau remand centre housed prisoners on short-term sentences. When it closed, the Prison Service decided to install the first National Prison Museum, retracing the history of the prison system from the 17th century to the present day.
Visitors can explore cells, see prison furniture, day-to-day prison objects as well as forbidden items found in searches and read the stories of famous convicts such as Mirabeau and others.
The Tourist Office provides visitors with audio guides to explore the town and château gardens. Some ten stops on each one-and-a-half-hour tour explain the history of these famous sites.
Available in French, English, German, Italian and Japanese for the gardens.
A guided visit of the La Solle racecourse explains the site's installation and operation to younger visitors and adults alike.
To explore Fontainebleau as a family, the "explorer guide" caters excellently for the younger ones. This historical mini-guide with practical tips and event details covers tourist destinations at Barbizon, Moret-sur-Loing, Meaux, Melun, Provins and the château of Vaux le Vicomte. Available free at the Tourist Office or the Tourism Board: +33 (0)1 60 39 60 39.