A little side trip to Fontainbleau

Fontainebleau

Cour d’Honneur – Château de Fontainbleau

Paris is great, but so is its surrounding area. Château de Versailles is a top destination for most people visiting Paris. Located just a 45 minute train ride away, the awe-inspiring palace and the beautiful gardens instill a sort of nostalgic satisfaction in witnessing a period of France’s glory. But about 60km south of Paris is a small town by the name of Fontainbleau that has a lot to offer away from most tourists’ radar.

Reception Hall – Château de Fontainbleau. Probably the most Versailles room in the palace.

The town is fairly quiet with a French locale catering to mostly French-speaking visitors. Fontainbleau is surrounded by lush forests that used to be the royal hunting ground. Needless to say, the air is a reprieve from the smoke-filled streets of Paris.

While Versailles bedazzles with fierce gold (that becomes a bit repetitious after the tenth stately magnificent room), Fontainbleau seduces with a softer myriad of colours.

Château de Fontainbleau is constructed in stages that started from Louis VII all the way to Napoleon III (and according to its official website, the Château has also been inhabited continuously for over 700 years). Depending on which building and which room you visit, the architectural and decorative style will range from Medieval to the style of the Second Empire. (Napoleon I did have a large hand in modifying the interior of the palace, especially the former royal apartments. And interestingly, you get to visit the table on which Napoleon signed his abdication in 1814).

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Horse-drawn carriage through the gardens of Château de Fontainbleau

Though the interior of the Château is certainly beautiful, it’s the gardens that sets the castle apart from the countless ones doted across the French countryside. With 4 distinctly different gardens, Château de Fontainbleau feels endlessly immense, and at certain parts, remote from civilization.

These small day-trips are necessary escapes from the mid-term mania at Sciences Po, which I may blog about once things become less hectic. As an exchange student, it is extremely difficult to settle down and focus on studying when there are so many things to explore and so many distractions. I have no advice on how to stay focused, as I am seeking that myself (and I would welcome any and all suggestions). But these trips are a welcomed reprieve from the sheer madness of back-to-back exposés, and often helps me focus upon return.

Until next time,

Grace

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