- FRANCE - PART ONE -

Fontainebleau : Part 1

LINKS to other pages in the FRANCE PART ONE site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

HOME PAGE : FRANCE PART ONE
PARIS HOME PAGE
GIVERNY
ROUEN
NORMANDY (Honfleur and Deauville)
NORMANDY (D Day Beaches and Bayeux)
MONT ST MICHEL
TOURAINE
LOCHES en TOURAINE
ORLEANS
FONTAINEBLEAU
LIST O' LINKS INDEX
GUEST BOOK
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Located in the heart of seventeen thousand hectare forest, the palace of Fontainebleau was once one of the residences of the sovereigns who ruled France.

All of its succession of occupants had their hearts set on improving it and added new buildings or new decorations. This resulted in a profusion of courtyards and buildings that exhibited a variety of decorative and architectural styles.

Only one tower remains of the original 12th-century castle. For a time it accommodated the kings' bedchamber.

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Almost eight centuries of French history are encapsulated in this chateau - from 1137, the year of the coronation of Louis VII, to the collapse of the Second Empire in 1870. It was during the Renaissance, however, that the castle underwent its most spectacular transformation. Francois I (1494-1547) built the entrance, the ballroom and the Saint Saturini Chapel. He also constructed the buildings encircling the current White Horse Courtyard and the Francois I Gallery that linked the two groups of buildings.

His son, Henri II and, later, his wife Catherine de Medici added to the improvements. With the arrival of the Italian artist, the First Fontainebleau School was founded. The frescoes from this era can still be seen in the Gallery of Francis I as well as in the ballroom and bedchamber.


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The Farewell Court (above and left) was completed by Louis XIII. The Royal Tennis Court, built by Henri IV (for real tennis or 'Jeu de Paume'), is situated in the building on the left of the main building.

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The horseshoe staircase was constructed in 1632-1634 by Androuet du Cerceau. It was on these steps that Napoleon bade farewell to his men on 20 April 1814 following his abdication.

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The ballroom is also named the "Gallery Henri II". The room was mainly used for receptions, balls and banquets. Plays were also presented there. Such was its function until the time of Louis XIII. Later it served merely as accommodation for the Swiss Guards right up to the time of the Revolution. It was then (around 1835) restored by Louis-Philippe.

In the time of Napoleon III great dinners were held here. Many visiting dignitaries were also received in this room including, in 1861, the ambassadors of the King of Siam.

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During the formal balls the King and the Queen were usually seated on a platform in front of the fireplace......

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..... and above the door the musicians played in a specially constructed gallery.

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The library at Fontainebleau.

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