Fontainebleau is a small city 55km southwest of Paris in the department of Seine-et-Marne. It was once the Royal Court’s getaway, and now it is a popular weekend getaway for Parisians. There is a lot to do in and around this picturesque city of 35,000. The Fontainebleau Forest is a national park. Spread over 280km², it is one of the most beautiful forests in Europe. It attracts more than 13,000,000 visitors each year and has more than 300km of trails. There’s also great rock climbing.
The Palace of Fontainebleau and the surrounding gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The royal chateaux was built in the 12th century and used by every monarch in France through Napoleon III. Today it’s a popular tourist attraction and home to the Ecoles d’Art Americaines. A few kilometers from Fontainebleau is Barbizon. The namesake of the Barbizon school of painting, which focused on naturalism and scenes from peasant life, the town was home to painters Jean-Francois Millet and Theodore Rousseau. Today both their houses are museums.
Fontainebleau is just a short train ride from Paris. If you have the time, it’s a relaxing place to spend a day or two away from the hustle of the city.