The Château de Fontainebleau is located 50 kilometres southeast of Paris, and is one of the largest French royal châteaux. The medieval castle and later château was the residence of French monarchs from Louis VII through Napoleon III.
It can proudly claim to have been a sovereign residence for eight centuries. Capétiens, Valois, Bourbons, Bonaparte and Orléans, all members of French ruling dynasties, have lived within these walls and kings and queens, emperors and empresses have all added their own improvements to the château and its most emblematic ornament is its famous horseshoe-shaped staircase that dates from the reign of Louis XIII.
It is today a national museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that counts over 1500 rooms at the heart of 130 acres of parkland and gardens and it is the only royal and imperial château to have been continuously inhabited for seven centuries. A visit to Fontainebleau opens up an unparalleled view of French history, art history and architecture.
Many momentous historical events took place in Fontainebleau. During the French Revolution the Château did not suffer any significant damage though all the furniture was sold at auction. As Napoleon, preparing to become emperor wanted to preserve as much as possible the palaces and protocol of the Old Regime, he chose Fontainebleau as the site of his historic 1804 meeting with Pope Pius VII, who had travelled from Rome to crown Napoleon Emperor. It is also in Fontainebleau that Napoleon I abdicated his throne there before being exiled to Elba.
Other sites of interest around Fontainebleau : Vaux-le-Vicomte, Barbizon, Moret-sur-Loing often painted by Alfred Sisley.