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Château of Fontainebleau
The Royal Château of Fontainebleau is a Renaissance and Classic-style castle next to the city centre of Fontainebleau (in the department of Seine-et-Marne), some sixty kilometres south-east of Paris.
The first traces of a castle in Fontainebleau date back to the XIIth century, with the latest works undertaken in the XIXth century. A major centre in the History of France, the Château of Fontainebleau was one of the residences of French sovereigns, from François I, who made it his favourite retreat, to Napoleon III.
Several kings have left their mark in the construction and the history of the Château of Fontainebleau, a witness of the different eras of French history since the Middle Ages. Surrounded by a vast park and located near the Forest of Fontainebleau, the château is made of elements from the medieval, Renaissance and Classic styles. The castle is a testament to the meeting of Italian art and French tradition conveyed through its architecture as much as interior decor.
This specificity finds its origin in François I's wish to create a « New Rome », where Italian artists would express their talent and influence French art. This is how the School of Fontainebleau was born, representing the richest era of Renaissance art in France, inspiring French painting up to the mid-XVIIth century and even beyond.
Napoleon I dubbed the château « the House of Centuries » as an evocation to the historical memories witnessed by the place. The Château of Fontainebleau, along with its park, has been a UNESCO-listed site since 1981.
Enriched by a first-rate architectural setting, the castle also hosts one of the biggest collections of antique furniture in France as well as exceptional paintings, sculptures and art objects from the XVIth to the XIXth century.