Chéri and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary with a romantic weekend away…. not too far for lack of budget and time. But really, in France, you don’t need to go far to find a place for romance. We took the train from Gare de Lyon (mid-strike mind you) and a half an hour from the Paris arrived at the pretty town of Fontainebleau.
Our lodging was through airbnb, Pheobe’s place. A little two room apartment nestled off of the rue de France, in a quiet little courtyard. Our view was of the charming ancient building behind us and the lovely tile rooftop beside us.
Fontainebleau offered us the perfect amount of activities for a little weekend away. A castle to visit, a forest to walk in, and the fête de la musique on the 21st of June offered us a little entertainment.
I had seen the château before, but years ago and my memory was rather foggy. I was impressed by the opulence of the interior and the incredible size of the structure. It rivals Versailles no question! I gasped as we walked into several rooms. Just the ceilings alone were incredible works of extravagance.
We included the recently renovated theater in our visit which was an extra 5€ with a guide explaining the history and restoration of it. It is mostly restored with it’s original silk on the walls and the furniture. As there is no light of day coming in at all, the fabric has been well preserved. Marie Antoinette, her style and her little Trianon theater served as inspiration for the conception of this court theater. Eugénie, the wife and Empress of Napoléon III who ordered the construction of this pretty little edifice, admired greatly Marie Antoinette. You can read more about the restoration here on the Fontainebleau website.
Our visit of the château finished, we rested up before heading out for dinner and the fête de la musique. There was a real sense of tranquility in the town, even tough there seemed to be an abundance of the population out to enjoy the festivities. Sometimes, events like this in central Paris, can be full of anxiety and pushy people, not to mention the stress of encountering those who come out just to cause trouble. It was nice to enjoy the festivities minus the ruckus. So Chéri and I has a nice salad and enjoyed the music, the people watching and time together.
Sunday, the town was a-buzz with a huge market took over the entire main street, but we had seen enough townspeople the night before and headed to the forest for a good walk. We were spoiled rotten with incredible weather the whole weekend. It was the ideal time to head to the woods. We packed a picnic lunch and grabbed a bus that took us to the train station where you can find the beginning of the easy trail. (We are not experience sports people so we opted for the easy path). There are some stairs just behind the café at the train station that lead you there. You cross the street, head left through a little parking area and up the paved trail that is marked with a yellow line (you have to search for the yellow lines on the trees).
The entire trail should take about four hours. We only went part way, picnicked and then headed back with our entire nature outing lasting a total of three hours. But like I said, we are Parisians, not major sports fanatics. Plus my shoe was giving me a blister.
As for restaurants, we ate at the Bistrot Sud, 1 rue Montebello, on Sunday evening. It has a great corner location, a lovely terrace and a delightful menu. We had the « onglet » steak. I have no idea what that is in English. But it’s delisshhhh!
We could have easily included a stroll through the gardens of the château which has free access, but we felt a little lazy after our forest stroll and decided on a nap instead. The whole weekend was easy, no stress, fun, romantic without being cliché, and full of interesting things to do.
The next morning, after a quick café at the little place next to where we stayed, a 15 minute bus ride, and a 30 minute train ride we were back in Paris. So for a day trip or a weekend out of the city, I hope you find my experience inspiring for you to plan a getaway to Fontainebleau. And, I hope you have as great weather as we did!