Fontainebleau is one of the most famous communes in France. This town is considered the center of the Fontainebleau arrondissement. It is a sub-prefecture of the Seine-et-Marne department of the region Île-de-France. It is said to be situated in an area larger than that of Paris.

The town is a favorite getaway spot for the Parisian city dwellers that enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and gorgeous natural scenery that it offers. Situated just a few kilometers to the south of France, Fontainebleau is one of the largest state forests in France, with over 50,000 acres.

Originally called the Fontaine Belle eau or Fontaine Belleaue, its present name was settled upon it in the year 1169. Whatever its name had been, the town has certainly maintained a reputation for its beauty but for its history as well.

Fontainebleau had been a favorite spot among French royally and their coterie. As early as the 12th century, kings had been creating chateaux and other establishments here to indulge their need for to get away from Paris. Louis VII famously built a royal hunting lodge and a chapel in this town, while Louis IX built his own country house as well as a hospital. These establishments are still standing today, and many of them had become tourist attractions.

Over the centuries, the connection between the town of Fontainebleau and the French monarchy only became stronger. That connection, many believed, truly became solidified when the great builder-king, Francis I, transformed Louis IX’s royal country house into a true royal palace, now known as the Palace of Fontainebleau. The palace is one of the largest French royal châteaux and its grounds now serve as a home to many endangered species of Europe. The palace had been the largest among all his constructions. Every king from then on until the eighteenth century, during the time of Louis XV, made important improvements and renovations on it.

Because of its strong ties to the French monarchy, Fontainebleau also became the venue for the signing of a number of treaties and edicts. Among these are Louis XIV’s Edict of Fontainebleau, or the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the 1762 Treaty of Fontainebleau, the 1763 Treaty of Paris, another Treaty of Fontainebleau which was signed by Manuel Godoy, and the 1814 Treaty of Fontainebleau.

For a while, when it became an important site during the French Revolution, Fontainebleau was also known as Fontaine-la-Montagne, or “Fountain of the Mountain,” for the range of mountains around it. It was also the venue for the 1925 Summer Olympics as well as the Franco-Vietnamese Conference. The town served as the host of the general staff of the Allied Forces in Central Europe and the land forces command, the air forces command at Camp Guynemer, located nearby.

Apart from a first-hand experience of historically charged sites, Fontainebleau is also a popular destination, with around 11 million visitors per year. Many of these tourists are after the outdoor activities that can be experienced in this town, such as hiking, horseback riding. The Fontainebleau forests, which is recognized as a National Park and protected under the French Office National de Forets, is particularly attractive for its flora and fauna, particularly its mixed deciduous forest.

Aside from its forests, other notable places to visit in Fontainebleau are the nearby villages, the campus of the INSEAD Business School, and the resting places of G.I. Gurdjeff and Katherine Mansfield at Avon.

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