This will take you approximately 60 km south of Paris to see Fontainebleau Castle. The wonder that was initially a royal hunting lodge in the 12th century. It was built to take advantage of the abundance of game in the surrounding forest. Then, over the centuries, each royal family enlarged or enhanced the Fontainebleau Chateau. However, most of what we see today was the inspiration of the 16th-century King Francois I. This suburb of Paris has offered refuge to French monarchs throughout the country's history. Kings from the Renaissance valued it because of its nearness to rich hunting grounds and its distance from the slums and smells of the city. Napoleon referred to the Palais de Fontainebleau, which he embellished with his distinctive monogram and decorative style, as "the house of the centuries."

Many pivotal and decisive events have occurred inside, perhaps none more memorable than when Napoleon stood on the horseshoe-shaped exterior stairway and bade farewell to his shattered army before departing for Elba. Make sure you see the Grand (royal) apartments, the Ballroom, the Horseshoe-shaped staircase and the gardens. A surrounding forest is a favourite place for the weekend-escapes of the Parisians. Activities include hiking, strolling, horseback riding, bicycling, rock climbing, and picnicking.

On the way, we will also quickly visit the charming village of Barbizon, an
artistic spot dedicated to impressionism and to many well-known painters such as Corot, Millet, ...

In 1641 the old Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte was purchased by Nicolas Fouquet. At that time it was a small castle and Nicolas Fouquet was an ambitious
twenty-six-year-old member of the Parliament of Paris. When he became King Louis XIV’s superintendent of finance, he commissioned Le Vau, Le Brun and Le Nôtre to renovate his estate and garden to represent his grand ambition. Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages to gain the necessary grounds. The château and its owner
became a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner organizes by Francois Vatel, and impressive fireworks. Fouquet’s intent was to flatter the King. Part of the château was actually constructed specifically for the king. Unfortunately, Fouquet’s plan backfired and he was arrested for misappropriation of state funds in August 1661, shortly after a famous fête that took place on 17 August 1661 where Molière’s play ‘Les Fâcheaux’ debuted. Voltaire’s sum up says ‘On 17th August, at six in the evening Fouquet was the King of France, at two in the morning he was nobody’. Fouquet was sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Today the château is still private property /owned by the Comte de Vogüé/ but, designated by the state as a monument historique, it welcomes visitors.