September 15, 2022
Today was a visit to Chateau Fontainebleau south of Paris. We already have the transportation system in Paris down pat; it is, in fact, very efficient. We simply took the Green Line/or #12, very close to our hotel, to the Purple Line/or #14, to the R rail line at Gare du Lyon (one of the Paris train stations) to Fontainebleau. It was a little over an hour journey. Once there, we took a quick bus #1 to the gates of the Chateau. Truly, easy peasy…not a hitch. Very clear markings at the station…even footsteps on the floor to guide you through each station to your color-coded train. Combine that with easy ticket purchase and friendly—yes, friendly—fellow passengers. Younger folks would get up and offer their seats to those older. We love using the metro.
Fontainebleau is amazing! The home of early French royalty, it was expanded from the 12th century onward until Louis XIV decided he needed to bring the rebellious nobles to live at court to keep them under control, so he built the huge Versailles Palace to serve as bait. At Versailles, he entertained them lavishly and gave them over the top living quarters. He successfully accomplished the goal of gaining complete control of France by using the same tactic as the Roman Caesar’s—“food and games.” While it worked for awhile, that tactic eventually contributed to the fall of the French monarchy, the same as occurred to the Roman Empire.
Fontainebleau, while not as large as Versailles, is certainly huge by any standard. To my mind, it is more beautiful on the interior. The wood carvings on doors and walls and ceilings are incredible. The wood carvings serve as frames for beautiful paintings. The crystal chandeliers are quite large, and many walls have intricate tapestry. Taken together, the whole is uniform, warm and inviting. After the French Revolution when Napoleon I become Emperor, he made Fontainebleau his home and refurbished what the Revolution had destroyed.
After our time at the Chateau, we enjoyed a fine meal outside in the early afternoon in perfect weather at a nice restaurant in the charming city of Fontainebleau. Our dessert was memorable—tiramisu—served with a side of hot espresso and another of amaretto, both to pour over the dessert—it was a wow! What better way to wile away the afternoon…well, maybe extend the afternoon into the evening at a Paris bar with aperitifs/beer and snacks while bantering with local Parisians!