My husband’s favorite part of our Paris vacation was a day trip to the Château of Fontainebleau. He’d never been before and I hadn’t been there for ten years. I was amazed by all of the changes in the last decade. There were many more refurbished spaces to enjoy – such as a Napoléon museum and the rooms prepared for Pious VI when he came for Napoléon’s coronation. I suggest that you get the excellent audio guide.
We chose to add a guided tour of the Petits Appartements onto the standard self-guided tour. The Petits Appartements are where the royal families chose to live during much of the seven hundred years of the château’s history as a royal residence. it was sort of a double existence, for example, the State bedroom was located above the private bedroom and the two were connected by hidden stairs. The private apartments are largely unrestored, but give a glimpse of the intimate life of France’s rulers. Even if some of the upholstery is faded and torn and the gilding has faded, Fontainebleau boasts the most original furniture of any French château.
The most wonderful room in the private apartments, in our opinion, was the final room we saw. Below the grand hall was its twin in size, a seventy-five meter hall devoted to the hunt and to France’s other châteaux. The walls were painted with highly detailed renderings of each royal château and the gardens and forests that surrounded it. Faux hunting trophies and massive bronze statues ornamented the walls. Apparently, when Louis XIII was a child, he would be sent here to play on rainy days. He had a little cart pulled by a dog that he would ride up and down the hall.
The word raplapla (rah-plah-plah) means worn out. It really applies to people, but I’m applying it to the Petits Appartements. While the upholstery may be faded to grey when it was once purple, or crimson, or gold, the majesty of the spaces still manages to shine through.