Palace and Park of Fontainebleau

This attraction in Paris, is a cultural and World Heritage Site. The Palace and Park of Fontainebleau is surrounded by an immense park, the Italianate palace combines Renaissance and French artistic traditions. Used by the kings of France from the 12th century, the Fontainebleau hunting residence, standing at the heart of a vast forest in the Ile-de-France, was transformed, enlarged and embellished in the 16th century by François I.

Located in the heart of a large forest in the Île-de-France in Seine-et-Marne, was transformed, enlarged and embellished in the 16th century by King Francis I, who wanted to make it a “new Rome”. Surrounded by a vast park, the castle, to which notable Italian artists contributed, was a meeting place between Renaissance art and French traditions. The need to enlarge and decorate this immense palace created the conditions for the existence of a true artistic milieu.

The construction of the palace began in 1528. Various subsequent modifications undertaken by his successors and carried out on various scales until the 19th century forged the current appearance of the complex, which today consists of five courtyards arranged in an irregular manner and surrounded by body of building and gardens.

The first building was built between 1528 and 1540 under the direction of Gilles Le Breton, the author of the Cour Ovale in the eastern part of the castle. From 1533 to 1540, Rosso worked on the painted decoration and the stuccos of the gallery of François Ier, and carried out an ambitious iconographic program in which the themes of the illustration of the monarchy were conveyed by the fables and the myths of the Greco world. Roman. Francesco Primaticcio, “The Primacy”, cast the most famous bronzes of ancient Rome for the decoration. He devoted the most fruitful phase of his career to Fontainebleau, where he worked on the frescoes in the ballroom, in the bedroom of the Duchess of Etampes and in the Ulysses gallery. Very few of the rooms he decorated have survived, but his creations are remembered thanks to the drawings and engravings which exerted a considerable influence on his time. Nicolo dell’Abbate collaborated with him. Fontainebleau is associated with the memory of other artists: a Hercules by Michelangelo stood in the courtyard of the Fontaine; Benvenuto Cellini designed his nymph of Fontainebleau for the Porte Dorée; Serlio drew up plans for different parts of the palace, and designed the entrance to the Belle-Eau fountain with its rustic grotto resting on telamons.

This contact with Italian architects, painters and sculptors pushed French artists to transform their own practice. If Gilles Le Breton, at the start of the work, seems to have escaped their influence, Fontainebleau was a revelation for Philibert de l’Orme, then for Androuet du Cerceau. The lesson of the Italian painters inspired yet another generation of artists, that of the second school of Fontainebleau, with Toussaint Dubreuilh, Ambroise Dubois and Martin Fréminet. The need to enlarge and decorate this immense palace created the necessary conditions for the existence of an active artistic milieu during the course of the 17th century. The Italian artists called by the king, painters, sculptors and architects, gave a decisive and lasting orientation to the art of the French Renaissance, to which they gave its most precious and prestigious models.

The gardens of Fontainebleau have also undergone significant transformations over the centuries. To the east, the Grand Jardin, originally composed of a series of square flower beds separated by a canal, was redesigned by Le Nôtre and gradually simplified before assuming its current appearance, with its four flowerbeds of lawn bordered by flowers.

Residence until the 19th century of French sovereigns, who constantly maintained and enriched it with artistic contributions, the Château de Fontainebleau is also associated with history, through significant events that took place there such as the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685, and the abdication of Napoleon I, in 1814.

Location: Department of Seine-et-Marne, Ile-de-France

Nearest City: Travel to Paris

Type of attraction: Cultural