Friday, May 24, 2013

Fabulous Fontainebleau

I’m blogging Fontainebleau first in order to leave the blushing bride time to blog about her own wedding first (she said it was fine to steam ahead, but no bother).

So the morning after the big day, I woke up in the “prostitute hotel” (apparently a favourite with local hookers due to the fact that you can get a triple room for 30€) feeling a bit out of shape but not too terrible. I actually slept quite well, no prostitutes within earshot, although perhaps not as long as I would have liked. I had accidentally booked two rooms – although, name and shame here, what actually happened was that the Formule 1 site froze in the middle of my transaction, I refreshed, waited a while to make sure that I didn’t get a confirmation of the booking, then booked again. I got a confirmation email HALF AN HOUR LATER to say that I had, in fact, booked two rooms. Then they wouldn’t refund my money even though it was clearly a mistake. Seriously, I’ve never been double-charged in all my years of buying stuff online, and the one time it’s with bastards with a no refund policy. Anyway, it had a happy ending since Ella kindly put me in touch with some fellow guests who were looking for a hotel room, and they bought it off me. Anyway, this meant that I had decided to leave the wedding the night before at about 2.30 am, since they were getting a ride back to the hotel (about a kilometer out of town) and I was pretty tired after a long day of wedding fun.

I had planned to take a trip to the nearby château of Fontainebleau, hangover permitting, since I was in the area. Deciding I didn’t feel too seedy, I got ready in a fairly leisurely manner and calculated that it would probably be okay to knock on the door of my fellow guests at about 10.30 and see where they were at in the getting-ready process. Turns out the answer was “still in bed in their underwear” but they actually got ready super quick and we set out together towards town on foot, suitcase in tow, having failed to reach either the groom, the groom’s father or the local taxi for a ride. Hungry and thirsty (especially thirsty, in my case) we were eventually rescued by Aurélien, the groom, going above and beyond on the morning after his wedding. I was dropped off at the RER station just in time for the next train (and they even came back to deliver my suitcase, which I'd managed to leave in the boot in my hungover state) and from there it was just a quick trip to Fontainebleau.

I hadn't really done much forward planning on this front, and mistakenly believed that the train station was right by the chateau. Turns out it's nearly 3 kilometres away, well-signposted for the most part, but with a significant portion running through a large park. Despite my hangover, I tried to view it as a fun Sunday outing, rather than as a neverending forced march through trackless woods, but I wasn't 100% successful...

After a sandwich and a Coke at the château (I normally can't abide Coke, but the situation called for a bit of a caffeine injection), I was feeling slightly better, although my first impressions of the château were not great. The tour started off with a series of poky little guardrooms, which didn't particularly impress me. However, as soon as I got into the first of the royal state rooms, the bedroom of Anne of Austria, I shook off my hangover in order to marvel at the amazingly sumptious furnishings and, especially, the lavish wall and ceiling decorations. Whatever you picture when you think of magnificence, Fontainebleau is it.

It was a shame I didn't have the time to go on any guided tours to the parts of the château that aren't open for independent visits, and even more of a shame that the guy who sold me my ticket didn't tell me that the audioguide was free, so I missed out on all the historical detail, but it was still definitely worth the trip, much better than lying in bed in the prostitute hotel feeling sorry for myself. And it didn't rain, unlike in Paris where it was absolutely bucketing down while I waited for my train! I arrived back home tired but happy after a great weekend, and collapsed into bed at about 9 pm, feeling very grateful that the next day was a holiday as well.

Going through my photos, it seemed about half didn't come out due to lighting or other issues, but that may be a good thing since I still ended up with a ton...




The ballroom


The chapel


In the Chinese museum


Ceiling in the throne room

There was an exhibition on the influence of Fontainebleau's art and design - here you can see some of the notable features, chiefly the huge "frames" for paintings and the decorative use of nude figures

Not the most lavishly-furnished room in Fontainebleau, but that little table is supposedly where Napoleon signed his abdication papers

Napoleon's "camp bed"

Napoleon's throne room

More of the signature Fontainebleau style

10 comments:

  1. In what sense of the word was it "Napoleon's camp bed"?

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    1. I think it was like if he was working late or whatever, he'd sleep there.

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    2. Ha ha - you didn't recogise that was one of D's daffy pun jokes....

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    3. Ha, no he got me this time!

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  2. The guy at the prostitute hotel sounds like a real jerk! I've never had someone charge me for what was obviously a double booking. Maybe he just doesn't know how to interact with guests who stay longer than an hour. ;)

    We had thought about going to Fontainebleau before Mlle (now Mme) Ella's wedding but didn't leave home in time. Thanks for the photos. Now I don't feel as if I missed out on anything.

    It was great to see you at the wedding. It was such a marvelously happy day!

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  3. Leaving at 2:30 was actually perfect, we closed down shortly after. I was in bed by 3! The day after, everyone was like "Where's Gwan?" and I said "Sightseeing in Fontainebleau, and then they asked, "Where's Paul and Lancelot?" and I said "Off to Amsterdam". Everyone was impressed with all of your motivation after such a rowdy night!

    I have never been to the chateau before but I think I will have to finally make that trip! Thanks for these photos...btw, what's a "camp bed"?

    And again, THANK YOU for everything! It was a pleasure having you at the wedding. : )

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  4. I am also impressed with your day-after motivation!

    F and I didn't get to stop in Fountainebleau- perhaps another time in the future (still have to do Versailles!).

    It was lovely meeting you by the way!

    Looking fwd to your next posts. :)

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  5. It's so funny that Formule 1 is known as the 'prostitute' hotel. The first time I drove past one with my husband he pointed it out and told me that! What an interesting reputation to have!

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