Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Day at Château de Fontainebleau

A book review from Anna Gibson:
A Day at the Château de Fontainebleau is a fascinating illustrated guide to the château de Fontainebleau, one of the most well-preserved, historically rich châteaus in the whole of France. It boasts more than 1,500 rooms and currently welcomes more than 500,000 visitors every year; visitors can enjoy not only the rich historical rooms of the château but its expansive and elegant gardens as well.

Fontainebleau is more than just a lavish palace: it is a historical site which Napoleon himself once described Fontainebleau as having "the shape and color of time." His poetic description is apt: eight centuries of history have passed through these highly decorative walls, which have housed everything from Renaissance kings to political prisoners to emperors and so much more. The early history of the palace is somewhat unclear, but during the reign of Francois I, the palace was transformed from just 'another' royal residence to a true cultural landmark. Francois I was a significant patron of the arts and this showed in the attention he lavished on Fontainebleau.

Despite several periods of stagnation due to war and economic troubles, Fontainebleau continued to be developed and cultivated by the French kings and their royal families. In 1665, Pierre de Bourdeille wrote regarding Henri IV's massive refurbishment of the palace: "Our great king Henri IV has since decorated and enriched this residence a hundred times better, so that it is now changed beyond recognition from its former state ... in short, a little paradise in France." Under the regency of Anne of Austria, even more lavish projects were undertaken at the château; the furnishings in her personal bedchamber, for example, were all hung with real cloth of cold, while her chairs were upholstered in cloth of gold embellished with silver flowers. (Read more.)

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