I’ve only visited Fontainebleau once, but it’s just gone higher on my list of places to see the next time I’m in France. Until now, only about one third of the home to 34 kings and emperors has been open to the public. It’s historically significant as well as beautiful. Fontainebleau’s sweeping staircase was the place from which Napoléon said farewell to his troops prior to his exile in 1814. Thanks to a 10 million Euro investment from Abu Dhabi, the château is being substantially restored and rooms that haven’t been seen by the public in 150 years will be opening over the next few years.
One of the areas about to be restored – it’s far too great to call it a mere room – is the Napoléon III theater. It was only used for a brief period and dozens of painted backdrops were safely stored. It’s like Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Another room that is being fully restored is Marie Antoinette’s Turkish boudoir, created in 1777. According to the press release, this boudoir is the last existing evidence of the turqueries royales that fascinated France in the 18th century, with the Turkish boudoirs of the Comte d’Artois – Louis XVI’s brother – and the queen at Versailles having both disappeared. The décor of the room has been entirely preserved since then, although the original furniture was dispersed to the four winds during the Revolution.
Furniture maker Jacob-Desmalter created replacement pieces for Empress Josephine, including a bed, chaise longue, and a pair of armchairs, a pedestal table and a fireplace screen. All of these pieces need to be restored and Fontainebleau has launched a fundraising appeal to pay for the costly process, including reweaving the original fabric using an identical process. They recreated the bedroom in an antique shop on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré to raise both money and awareness.
Today’s expression, une fontaine de jouvence (oon fonten duh zjoovahse), means a fountain of youth. Fontainebleau is going to be more beautiful than ever once the restorative waters have turned back the hands of time. I didn’t know that a part of the château is used for les Écoles d’Art Américaines, a school for art, architecture, and music for students from the States. What a campus! Maybe they’re hiring and I can go live there?
Read more about it: Les chroniques de Fontainebleau
- France: Fontainebleau (anotherheader.wordpress.com)