While I absolutely love traveling to Paris, I also love exploring the areas outside of Paris. If you’re looking for a fun day trip outside of Paris to explore the countryside and escape some of the crowds in Paris, Fontainebleau is a really fun location to explore. It is located just Southeast of Paris and can be gotten to in under an hour which makes it ideal for a day trip from Paris.
Paris to Fontainebleau Day Trip
Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Fontainebleau is the only palace in France that has been inhabited by all the crowded heads of the country from the 12th century to the 19th century. The chateau is of course worth seeing but the town itself is also very charming.
How To Get To Fontainebleau From Paris
If visiting Fontainebleau by car you can reach the town in less than an hour from Paris.
If traveling by train, you’ll take the train from the Gare de Lyon train station in the direction of Montargis Sens or Montereau. You’ll disembark at the Fontainebleau-Avon train station. The train ride is just about 40 minutes. Once you arrive at the train station you’ll need to head to the nearby bus stop and take the 1 line to the city center.
If you don’t have a Navigo card I would recommend having Euros handy for your bus fare!
What To Do In Fontainebleau France
Visit the Chateau de Fontainebleau
Undeniably the biggest attraction for Fontainebleau is the chateau. This ancient castle was initially built as a hunting lodge. It transformed and grew bigger and more grand over the years. If you’d like to avoid the crowds at the Palace of Versailles, the Château de Fontainebleau is a wonderful alliterative to seek similar vibes.
You’ll want at least half a day to explore the Chateau – it is huge! As in 1,536 rooms huge. It holds 800 years of history with 34 kings and 2 emperors including key figures in French history like Napoleon I, Napoleon III, Henry IV and King Louis XIV all having inhabited it from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
The Chateau today is a great exhibition of furnishings from various periods of French history. It was however pillaged during the French Revolution and following refurnished by Napoleon I and Joséphine in order to receive Pope Pius VII. Today, more than 40,000 works of art are on site at the chateau.
During your visit, don’t miss the Throne Room. The Throne Room of the Chateau de Fontainebleau is the only historical throne room preserved in France. I also think the Chapel at the Chateau is worth viewing as well as the ballroom which is an amazing exhibit of French Renaissance style. You also can’t miss the Horseshoe Staircase which was built between 1632 and 1634 and was where Napoleon I famously said farewell from his rule.
The chateau is open every day except Tuesday, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. From October to March the hours of operation are 9.30 am to 5 pm (last access at 4.15 pm). From April to September the hours of operation are 9.30 am to 6 pm (last access at 5.15 pm). You can visit the park and gardens free of charge.
Take a Tour
Guided tours can be a wonderful way to learn even more about the French history the chateau holds. If you’re someone who wants to know more about this playground for the Kings of France, a guided tour either as a private tour or a group tour may be of interest.
Explore the Town
The town of Fontainebleau is charming and full of shops and restaurants to explore.
Shop the Farmer’s market
The Marché de Fontainebleau takes place at Place de la République three times a week. Come and shop local produce and other fare from a variety of sellers on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings.
Fontainebleau is the largest forest in the Ile-de-France region and boasts the distinction that more than 98% of its territory is occupied by two national heritage attractions: the château of Fontainebleau and the national forest of Fontainebleau. As such the area has a variety of hikes and trails that can be enjoyed.
There are loads of bike baths within the forest of Fontainebleau so if you’re someone who would prefer to explore on two wheels vs. two feet you may want to rent bikes.
The forest is full of rocks with courses set up for beginners, intermediates or professionals alike.
Walk around The Grand Lake of Fontainebleau
You can enjoy the beautiful lake by walking around it or by renting a boat when weather allows! If you venture onto the lake you’ll be greeted with amazing views of the chateau from the water.
Enjoy a Meal
There are plenty of lovely places to enjoy a meal while in Fontainebleau – a few favorites can be found below.
Where To Eat In Fontainebleau France
One of the best cheese shops in Paris has a Fontainebleau outpost. On site be sure to try the signature Le Fontainebleau cheese, which they have been making for over a century.
Frédéric Cassel has twice been named the Patissier of the Year, in 1999 and 2007 so a visit to his Fontainebleau boulangerie is well worth a stop.
Located in the beautifully redesigned hotel La Demeure du Parc, this bright and airy spot is serving up seasonal fare in a stunning atmosphere. If you visit in warm weather you can enjoy your meal on the terrace. Reservations recommended.
If you want fine dining when visiting Fontainebleau, L’Axel is the most renowned restaurant for haute French dining in town. Reservations are required.
If up for a small journey outside of the town of Fontainebleau, and especially if you’re a fan of beer, head to Brasserie Pachamama to enjoy their local brews and modern fare.
Have you been to Fontainebleau?
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