The Palace of Fontainebleau 12:15 pm December 3 2012
Opera lovers, Verdians all, will know Fontainbleau Forest as the setting of Act One of Don Carlos. And a magical place Fontainebleau is even on a cold wet December day. And yes, you have guessed it, that is the best time to visit since there is no one else there.
It is a wonderful place to immerse you in French history. Napoleon dominates of course, with a remarkable collection of items which brings this tiny man to what can only be described as "larger than life". The gallery of Napoleon family portraits above, busts on the left and paintings on the right, gives you a sense of the domination of this man in the French psyche.
The richness of the Grands Appartements is overwhelming, room after amazing room with glorious furniture, tapestries, and beds galore........
The palace is set in a garden and lake landscape, both French and English, and surrounded by the town of Fontainebleau and the magical forest itself. It is an obligatory trip if you have a spare day in your Paris schedule. And do not despair - the whole trip will be even more worthwhile if you have lunch at Chez Bernard, an entirely delightful restaurant opposite the front gate of the Palace. There was not a tourist in sight today - but on a Monday lunchtime in December this place was busy with the locals rejoicing in and relishing the superb offerings at a modest price.