08 September 2007

Fontainebleau with E & L

Le palais de Fontainebleau

A lot of Americans have trouble pronouncing the word Fontainbleau. For some reason, they think the last syllable is pronounced like our word blue. It's not. The last syllable is pronounced like the English word blow. The Michelin guide says the place was named after an owner, Bilaud or Blaut, and that there was a spring or fountain on the property, which is located in the middle of a forest. Another explanation is that the ending -bleau is a corruption of the words belle eau — beautiful water.

The "horseshoe" staircase in the main courtyard at Fontainebleau
dates back to the early 1600s (the reign of Louis XIII).

There have been manor houses and mansions at Fontainebleau since the Middle Ages. Kings dating back to the 12th century — including Louis VII and Philip Augustus — spent time there. In the early 16th century, Francis I (François Ier in French) had the medieval buildings torn down and built a new complex. He brought the best artists and artisans of the time to Fontainebleau to create what was called "a new Rome" in the middle of the forest.

Last Wednesday we drove directly from Saint-Aignan to Fontainebleau, on our way to Paris. It took less than three hours. We wanted to see the château at Fontainebleau. Actually, the Michelin Green Guide in French calls it the palais de Fontainebleau. Evelyn said it was her first time there, and I think it was for her husband and their friends too. Fontainebleau is about 40 miles south of Paris.

The buildings in this picture date back to Francis I
and the French Renaissance of the 1500s.


I used to spend a lot of time in Fontainebleau. I knew somebody who lived in the neighboring town of Avon and used to go out there from Paris on weekends. I also knew some people who lived just a few miles north of Fontainebleau in a tiny village.

The formal gardens at Fontainebleau
with the château complex in the background

When we got to Fontainebleau last Wednesday, we had lunch in a café right across the street from the entrance to the château. It was fine food but not fancy (saucisses-frites, croque-monsieur, salade au fromage de chèvre for different ones of us). Then we walked onto the grounds of the palace and through a couple of arched doorways and a big courtyard before arriving in the gardens. The weather was gorgeous, as were the beds of flowers all around.

2 comments:

  1. Wasn't our weather grand at Fountainbleau? It was our group's first time to visit the chateau. I'd always heard of it, but never got there until Wednesday.

    Your photos turned out well.

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  2. I haven't been to Fontainebleau for some forty years! Maybe I should go for a day trip, it's really not far from Paris. I believe the inhabitants are called the Bellifontains...
    Great photos as usual

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