Visit the Château de Fontainebleau: tickets, prices, opening hours

Why not stay in France for the vacations this year? Here’s our complete guide to the Château de Fontainebleau!

Situated in the Seine-et-Marne region near the town center of Fontainebleau, some 60 kilometers southeast of Paris, the Château de Fontainebleau is a Renaissance and Classical-style royal château that has spanned the history of France, particularly that of the monarchy, since the 12th century. Main residence of the kings of France from François I to Louis XIV (until 1682), it became a secondary residence from Louis XIV to Napoleon III. Dubbed « the house of centuries » by Napoleon I, it is a landmark of French history, whose construction – which spanned the 12th to 19th centuries – left the indelible imprint of successive kings, who ordered their own alterations and works, according to the styles of their era (Medieval, Renaissance and Classical, with influences from Italian art and French tradition). This centuries-old edifice was listed as a Monument Historique in 1862, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

Would you like to visit the Château de Fontainebleau? We’ll tell you just about everything you need to know to organize your trip!

History of the Château de Fontainebleau

Histoire du Château de Fontainebleau

Photo Credit: From Michael Warwick / Shutterstock.com

The history of this monument dates back to the 12th century, when the existence of a fortified castle on this site was first attested in 1137. Historians think it likely that this first castle was built under Louis VI or Philippe I, in the 11th century. A favorite residence of medieval kings – Louis IX, Philippe le Bel, Philippe VI, Charles V, Charles VI – it was abandoned during the Hundred Years’ War, when the Île-de-France region was occupied by the English.

The Château de Fontainebleau has known eight centuries of continuous sovereign presence, from the Capetians through the Bourbons to the Orléanais. Chosen by François I as his hunting ground and residence, he had the feudal château renovated into a modern palace in the Italian architectural style of the time. François I wanted to make the Château de Fontainebleau a hotbed of Renaissance art and a « new Rome » (French kings are not always the most modest in the land…).

Later, Henri IV (1553-1610) had the gardens landscaped and the château enlarged after 40 years of neglect. From the Renaissance to the 17th century, the Château de Fontainebleau also became an important art gallery, with kings enriching their personal collections with objets d’art brought back from their travels or donated by other sovereigns.

Only the keep and a few traces of curtain walls remain from the feudal era. The Château de Fontainebleau we visit today is described as an architectural gem of the modern era (16th to 18th centuries), whose most representative emblem is the famous horseshoe-shaped staircase, built under Louis XIII.

What to see and do at Château de Fontainebleau

Visiter le Château de Fontainebleau : que voir et que faire ?

Photo Credit: De Takashi Images / Shutterstock.com

The « house of centuries », home of kings, can be visited from the outside via the Château’s well-tended gardens, surrounded by greenery, the carp pond and its view of the pavilion, the 17th-century Diane fountain, the Carré d’Eau, the Grand Canal – 1.2 kilometers long and 40 meters wide – and the rond d’eau with the statue of the Tiber at its center. No less than 130 hectares of parks and gardens, separated by the Avenue des Cascades.

Inside the Château de Fontainebleau, there are countless rooms to see, including : the horseshoe-shaped staircase, the Pavillon des armes, the Chapelle de la Trinité, the apartments of the Queen Mothers and the Pope, the salons, the bedrooms, the art galleries – notably the Galerie des Fastes and the Galerie des Assiettes -, the Ministers’ Wing – known as the Lower Wing -, the Galerie François I – built between 1528 and 1530 -, Napoleon I’s apartments, the Salle des Gardes, the Escalier du roi (1748-1749), the Chambre Ovale (Louis XIII). The 1,530 rooms, apartments, chambers and halls were built between the 16th and 19th centuries, retracing the lives of sovereigns in the style of their times. The Château de Fontainebleau boasts one of France’s most important collections of antique furniture, sculptures and paintings.

Outside, a short walk is in order: you can enjoy a nice (very easy) hike in the Fontainebleau forest – 25,000 hectares, labelled « Forêt d’exception » – which borders the Château, exploring the Rocher Cailleau, the Massif des trois pignons, the Gorges d’Apremont, the Caverne des brigands and the Rocher Canon. – which borders the Château, exploring the Rocher Cailleau, the massif des trois pignons, the gorges d’Apremont, the caverne des brigands and the Rocher Canon. Visit Alltrails to see the route. The Denecourt-Colinet trail (marked in blue) is a 4.5-kilometer walk lasting around two hours. It’s a little-frequented trail, passing the Belvédère Louis VII, the Belvédère du mont Louis-Philippe, the Bournet viewpoint, with beautiful views over the forest, the town of Fontainebleau and Avon.

How to visit the Château de Fontainebleau

Plan du château de Fontainebleau

Photo Credit : Culturegouv

There are three ways to visit the Château de Fontainebleau : self-guided, guided or themed .

Start, for example, with the Grands Appartements – the Pope’s apartment, the apartments of the kings of France, the Emperor’s apartment – on a self-guided tour. Then move on to the Galerie François Ier and Napoleon I’s Throne Room. Allow around 2 hours. The Musée de Napoléon I features a collection of furniture, objets d’art and portraits that once belonged to the imperial family. Then, in the Musée Chinois, you’ll discover Empress Eugenie’s salon, which was intended for relaxation and courtly soirées.

If you’d like to fully explore the history of the kings of France, opt for a guided tour, which will take you behind the scenes of the Château’s 8 centuries of history. The tour also includes the Galerie des Meubles – featuring furniture from apartments that have disappeared or been refurbished – the Petits Appartements – of Napoleon I, his wives Josephine and Marie-Louise, the Boudoir turc (guided tour), Marie-Antoinette‘s private space, Napoleon III’s imperial theater – with, if you wish, an audio-guide and/or a touch-sensitive tablet: the histo-pad, which offers an interactive tour in augmented reality.

Cultural events are organized throughout the year, including the Saint-Hubert festival, period costume re-enactments, concerts and literary readings, and family treasure hunts (at 3pm on weekends, by reservation). Allow a full day to see the Château, the French garden, the two English gardens, the waterfall basin, the four courtyards, the facades and the canal.

How do I get to the Château de Fontainebleau?

To get to Paris, use the Ulysse flight comparison service to find the best deals on flexible dates. From Paris airports, a private shuttle takes you to the Château de Fontainebleau in 46 minutes from Orly and 1h11 from Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle (€320 return from CDG airport and €220 from Orly for one person).

By train, Fontainebleau station is served by the Transilien SNCF commuter train network: from Paris-Gare de Lyon, take the direction Montargis, Montereau or Laroche-Migennes, to Fontainebleau-Avon, then bus line 1 in the direction of Les Lilas, to the « Château » stop.

To get to the Château de Fontainebleau by car, take the A6 from Paris (Porte d’Orléans or Porte d’Italie), exit at Fontainebleau and follow the « Château » signs.

Château de Fontainebleau opening hours and prices

Horaires et tarifs du Château de Fonainebleau

Photo credit: De Jacky D / Shutterstock.com

SCHEDULES

The Château de Fontainebleau is open every day except Tuesdays, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th :

  • October to March: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission at 4:15 p.m.),
  • April to September: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last admission at 5:15 p.m.).

Please note: The ballroom closes at 4:15pm from October to March and at 5:15pm from April to September.

The courtyards and gardens are open every day:

  • November to February: 9am to 5pm,
  • March, April and October: 9 am to 6 pm,
  • May to September: 9am to 7pm.

Please note: The park is open 24 hours a day.

RATES

  • Full price (Grands Appartements and Musée Napoléon I): €12,
  • Reduced rate : 10 €,
  • One hour before closing: €8,
  • Visioguide for adults and young people: €4,
  • Chinese Museum: €3

Please note: Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month between September and June. Access to the parks and gardens of the Château de Fontainebleau is free every day.

Good to know

– There are free toilets at the beginning and end of the tour, inside the château,

– Strollers, baby-carriers, bags and umbrellas (not permitted on the château’s tours) can be left in the lockers free of charge,

– An elevator provides access to the Grands Appartements (for people with reduced mobility).