• Fontainebleau + Barbizon (1 day) Description

    Your private, licensed driver-guide will pick you up at your hotel at 8.30am in a luxurious, air-conditioned Mercedes minivan and bring you back there again at the end of your tour around 16:30. On the way to Fontainebleau (1 hour drive), he will give you an introduction to the history of the palace. The private, guided visit of the chateau and its 3 different type of gardens will open up an unparalleled view of French History, Art History and Architecture.

    With over 1500 rooms at the heart of 130 acres of parkland and gardens, the CHATEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU can proudly claim to have been a sovereign residence for 8 centuries: Capetiens, Valois, Bourbons and Orleans, all members of French ruling dynasties have lived within these walls. Kings and Queens, Emperors and Empresses have all striven to make their own improvements to the chateau built around the central keep. The estate became quickly a huge palace in which many important historical events were played out.

    The first recorded reference to the chateau of Fontainebleau in a royal charter dates back to 1137. The central keep dates from that period. In 1259, Saint Louis, who was very fond of his fortified castle in Fontainebleau, established a monastery there presided by Mathurin monks.

    The monastery was to be acquired by King Francis I that did impressive extension works in 1528. The Chateau de Fontainebleau was also where Catherine de Medici gave birth to 6 of her children. The last major building expansion works at the chateau were carried out during the reign of King Henri IV whose favourite residence it was after the Louvre. Throughout the 17th C many key events took place in Fontainebleau, so a canal was dug and new gardens were designed and planted... The 18th Century saw the marriage ceremony of King Louis XV and his wife Marie Leczynska at the Trinity chapel in Fontainebleau. Life at the Chateau de Fontainebleau under the First Empire was closely linked to the rise and fall of the Imperial Eagle. Napoleon did more than anyone to restore the Chateau de Fontainebleau, refurbishing it completely after the Revolution. It was at Fontainebleau where Napoleon bid farewell to his wife Marie Louise and his son, the King of Rome on January 24th 1814.  He was never to see them again. It was also at Fontainebleau where he made his famous farewell speech to the soldiers of the Old Guard.

    The Chateau de Fontainebleau houses an exceptional collection of works of Art representing the stylistic and aesthetic tastes of those who have lived in its apartments. They provide a fascinating art history lesson.

    It is now time for lunch in a very nice local restaurant that your guide will recommend you.

    After lunch, leaving Fontainebleau, your guide will drive along small country roads to the picturesque village of Barbizon . Taking a trip to Barbizon is like walking into an Impressionist painting. Indeed, the village, nestled at the edge of the forest attracted many famous 19th C painters ( Corot, Millet, Rousseau, Diaz..), fascinated by light and landscape.  They became known as the “Barbizon school “ and paved the way for the Impressionists by their willingness to accept nature on its own terms rather than using it as a idealized base for  structured compositions.

    Strolling along the main street of the village, you will stop at the Museum of the Barbizon painters to discover their history and stories followed by  a drink at the Ganne Inn where they  lived, painted, slept  and feasted a lot…

    You will also visit Jean-Francois Millet’s home studio where he painted his world famous “Angelus de Millet” ( and other masterpieces }  and where he lived with his family until his death in 1875.


    Entrance tickets to the chateau and gardens of Fontainebleau included

    Lunch not included

    Extra charge for a pick up and/or a drop off outside Paris


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