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A Perfect Day Trip to the Château de Fontainebleau from Paris

Planning a day trip to visit the Château de Fontainebleau? This majestic 1,500-room castle of the kings (and emperor) rivals any chateau in France and is one of the best ways to escape the city and and enjoy the rich history of France.

With its lavishly decorated interiors, vast gardens, and French Renaissance grandeur, the Château de Fontainebleau is a must-see on your trip to Paris.

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We recently visited Fontainebleau and were blown away! Not only is the palace absolutely stunning, but the gardens were equally as beautiful.

In this guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know for a day trip to Fontainebleau from Paris, including how to get there by train, what to see, and tips on making the most of your visit.

What is the Château de Fontainebleau?

The Château de Fontainebleau is a 1,500 room palace that dates back to the 12th century. The first king to reign here was Louis VII from 1137 during the Middle Ages.

One particularly interesting fact is that the Château de Fontainebleau was home to all of France’s rulers (monarchs and emperor). Starting with Louis VII and ending with Napoleon III.

The chateau was even the place where Napoleon I abdicated the throne and threw a farewell party on his way to Elba (where he spent 10 months in exile).

Many renovations took place at the château, the most notable were completed by Francis I. Inspired by the French Renaissance in the 16th century, he hired Italian artists to decorate the main gallery and the ballroom. Both of which are incredibly beautiful and detailed.

Napoleon I added the Napoleonic throne room in 1808, which is the only remaining throne room in a palace in France.

Is the Château de Fontainebleau worth visiting?

While there are many incredible day trips from Paris, a day trip to the Château de Fontainebleau is a must and is 100% worth visiting! The most obvious reason is that it’s an incredible palace that’s only an hour away from Paris.

The other reason is that unlike Versailles that gets around 10 million visitors per year, is extremely crowded, and has huge line. The Château de Fontainebleau only gets 300,000 visitors per year, and you get to wander around the palace without the huge crowds.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t visit the Palace of Versailles – it’s Versailles for a reason! But if you want to visit an equally beautiful palace, in my opinion, and have a more relaxing experience, a day trip to the Château de Fontainebleau is for you.

Visiting the Château de Fontainebleau

During your visit to the Château de Fontainebleau, you will tour the Napoleon I museum, the palatial rooms, and the palace gardens.

Unless you book a group tour, the tour is self-guided with arrows marking which way to go. I appreciated the one-way route because it’s often easy to get lost in such large palaces.

We spent several hours visiting the rooms inside of the castle, so plan accordingly with lunch.

Here are a few of the highlights inside of the Château de Fontainebleau.

Napoleon I Museum

The Napoleon I Museum takes you through Napoleon’s 10-year reign as the First Emperor of France. From his porcelain collections to fancy furniture and family portraits, the museum displays all sorts of historical artifacts that represent his time at Fontainebleau.

Francis I Gallery

This ornate and incredibly detailed hallway was designed by Rosso Fiorentino from Florence in the 16th century. Francis I had this portion of the palace renovated in a style that resembled the current period of the time, which was the French Renaissance.

The gallery is a stunning showcase of some of the finest artistry during this time period.

The Ballroom

One of the most spectacular rooms in the entire palace is the ballroom. This room, which was also renovated in the 16th century, features frescoes by Italian painter Nicolo Dell’Abbate.

The wood paneling, bronze lamps, and large windows are just a few details that make this my favorite room in the palace.

The Royal Chapel of the Trinity

The chapel resembles a baroque style and was completed in 1633. It’s located to the left of what used to be the main entrance of the chateau.

Make sure to visit both the top floor and the main floor of the chapel to take in all of the details. The views from both levels are wonderful.

The Napoleonic Throne Room

The throne room was built by Napoleon I in 1808, seven years after he became the Emperor of France. It is the only remaining throne room in a palace in France.

The Palace Library

My jaw dropped when I first saw the Palace Library. It’s worthy of being at a top-tier university, and I immediately started day dreaming what it would be like to have a library of this scale in my own home. I’ll keep day dreaming . . .

This library was built during the time of Napoleon III and is located in the Diana Gallery. There are over 20,000 books along the walls of the gallery. Unfortunately, in order to preserve the library, you aren’t allowed to walk through it.

The Gardens

The grounds of the Château de Fontainebleau total 130 hectares (321 acres). I recommend spending the afternoon exploring the gardens and enjoying a picnic lunch on the lawn.

There are several gardens to visit: The Grand Parterre, The Diana Garden, The English Garden, and the park surrounding the Grand Canal.

My personal favorites are the English Garden and the Diana Garden – both surrounded by tall trees and beautiful flowers. If you have a picnic lunch, the English Garden is the perfect spot for it.

Plan to spend at least a couple of hours wandering around the gardens. They are worth exploring.

Tickets for the Château de Fontainebleau

We recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance to ensure you get a time slot for your visit.

Where to purchase tickets:

You can purchase your tickets to the Château de Fontainebleau online at the official website. You can also purchase a skip-the-line entry ticket on GetYourGuide.

The tickets include access to the grand apartments and the Napoleon I museum, and the gardens are free to the public to visit.

Cost of tickets:

The cost to visit the Château de Fontainebleau is €13 for adults and free for anyone under 18.

If you want to get in for free, the chateau is free to visit every first Sunday of the month except during the months of July and August.

Guided tour options:

There is a video guide available to rent at the ticket office for an additional €4 fee.

If you prefer a guided tour, we suggest booking a guided English tour through GetYourGuide. Otherwise, all of the guided tours that you can book directly at the chateau are in French.

Château de Fontainebleau Opening hours

The Château de Fontainebleau is open every day except Tuesdays, Christmas day, New Year’s day, and May 1st

October-March: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

April – September: 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM

How much time do you need in Fontainebleau?

I recommend planning an entire day for your day trip to the Château de Fontainebleau from Paris. Try to arrive right when the chateau opens (at 9:30 AM) because you will get to enjoy the entire chateau to yourself. Most people arrive mid-morning around 10:30 AM.

We spent a total of 6 hours in Fontainebleau on our day trip from Paris. This does not include the 2 hours of travel time to and from Paris.

How to get to Fontainebleau from Paris

Getting to the Château de Fontainebleau from Paris takes around one hour each way and is fairly straightforward. The journey requires both train and bus, but with these directions you should have no problem getting there easily.

First, I want to explain what train ticket to buy because this was the most confusing part for us. Instead of buying a traditional train ticket, you need to buy a full-day Mobilis pass for zones 1-5.

You can buy your Mobilis pass at any metro, bus, RER, and tramway stations that sell tickets. It looks like the ticket machine in the photo below. There is also a ticket machine directly in front of the train platform at the station.

Machine to buy Mobilis pass

How much is the train from Paris to Fontainebleau?

The Mobilis train pass costs €17.80 per person for the entire day. This covers your round trip tickets to and from Paris to Fontainebleau. You can also use the pass to get around around the Paris metro area on any type of public transportation.

You do not need to buy separate metro/bus tickets – just use your Mobilis pass for the day.

Train from Paris to Fontainebleau

The train from Paris to Fontainebleau departs from the Gare de Lyon station in Paris and arrives at the Fontainebleau-Avon station. It’s a direct route and takes around 40-minute each way.

Make sure to validate your ticket before getting on the train.

Bus from Fontainebleau-Avon to the Château de Fontainebleau

Once you arrive at the Fontainebleau-Avon train station, follow the signs to the “Château de Fontainebleau” bus. The bus stop is located across the street from the station.

Bus stop at train station

You need to take bus line 1, which leaves every 15-minutes from the station, with the exception of a few times during the day. You can see the bus schedule here.

Your Mobilis pass can be used as your bus ticket. There is a machine behind the driver that you can use to validate your ticket.

Get off the bus at the “Fontainebleau Bibliotheque” stop and walk 3-minutes to the entrance gates of the château – you’ve arrived!

When is the best time of year to go to Fontainebleau?

The best time of year to visit is during the spring, summer, or fall months. I often don’t recommend visiting places during the high season (summer), but we visited at the very beginning of August and there weren’t any crowds.

The grounds are beautiful in the summer with the green grass and flowers in bloom. I imagine the spring gardens are even more beautiful.

Where to eat in Fontainebleau?

For a quick meal, I recommend getting a sandwich (or salad) from the sandwich shop in the main courtyard at the Château de Fontainebleau that leads to the gardens. We bought sandwiches for €6.50 each and ate them in the English Garden. The sandwiches were delicious.

Because we visited on a Sunday in August, almost all of the shops in town were closed, so we didn’t get the opportunity to try anywhere else. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in Fontainebleau that will have good options if you visit during another time of year.

If you want something quick and cheap, there is a Paul near the chateau. This is a popular chain restaurant that sells sandwiches and salads.

Getting back to Paris from Fontainebleau

To get back to Paris from the Château de Fontainebleau, the nearest bus stop is located just across the street from the main gate. If you’re wandering around town before heading out, there are several stops in the city as well. You can use Google Maps to find the nearest one to you.

You need to get off at the “Plateau de la Gare” bus stop and walk an extra 3-5 minutes to the train station from here. Keep this in mind when you are trying to time your bus to catch the train in time.

From here, the train will drop you off at the Gare de Lyon where you can enjoy the rest of your evening in Paris!

Tours from Paris to Fontainebleau

If you are looking to visit the Château de Fontainebleau with a guide and without the hassle of booking your tickets, we suggest one of these tours.

  • Best Small Group Tour – This small group tour through GetYourGuide offers a fantastic day trip itinerary to both the Fontainebleau castle and the nearby Vaux-Le-Vicomte castle. The tour departs from Paris and is about 10-hours long. The group size is no bigger than 8 people, which is a huge plus, as you’ll get a more intimate experience during the tour.
  • Best Priced Tour – This group day tour to Fontainebleau also includes a trip to the Vaux-Le-Vicomte castle. While the price of this tour is much cheaper than the other one, the group size is also much larger. The tour leaves in the morning from Paris and lasts for about 9 hours.

Tips for your day trip to the Château de Fontainebleau

  • Arrive when it opens – You’ll have the chateau to yourself and will be able to take some nice photos of the front of the chateau before everyone else arrives for the day.
  • Bring or pick up a picnic lunch – This is the best way to enjoy the gardens!
  • Plan to be there for a least 6 hours – Take your time to see the chateau, wander around the property, and explore the town. It’s worth the entire day.
  • Pack sunscreen – If you plan to spend a few hours in the gardens, pack sunscreen because it’s not all shaded.
  • Bring water – Bring water because it costs €3 to buy a small bottle at the chateau.
  • Use the restroom in the chateau – This may seem a little silly, but the restrooms inside of the chateau are much nicer than the ones by the ticket booth.
  • Don’t visit in August – From our personal experience, I recommend visiting during another month when the shops in town are open. We would have liked to explore the town more.

FAQ Château de Fontainebleau Day Trip

Can you visit Fontainebleau for the day?

Yes! One full day is enough time to visit the town of Fontainebleau and the Château de Fontainebleau. You will want to leave early in the morning and try to arrive by 9:30AM when the chateau opens to make the most of your day trip.

How far is it from Paris to Fontainebleau?

Fontainebleau is about 70km south of Paris. The easiest way to get from Paris to Fontainebleau is by train, which takes 40-minutes each way.

Does Fontainebleau have a train station?

Yes, the train station in Fontainebleau is called Fontainebleau-Avon station. However, the station is outside of the center of town, so you will need to take a local bus to get into town from the train station.

Is the Château de Fontainebleau free to visit?

No, you need to purchase tickets to visit the interiors of the Château de Fontainebleau. However, the gardens are free to visit all year.

Final Thoughts: Day Trip to Fontainebleau from Paris

Whether you love learning about history or admiring Baroque architecture, a day trip to the Château de Fontainebleau from Paris is a must if you have time during your visit to the French capital.

With its small crowds, wonderful gardens, and swoon-worthy interiors, you are sure to have an unforgettable day in Fontainebleau.

If you have any questions about your day trip to Fontainebleau or want to tell us about your experience, leave us a note in the comments below!

2 COMMENTS:

  1. We are on our way their now on the train from Paris. Thank you for this posting it helped us prepare our trip to Fountainebleau!

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