The famed and remarkably well-preserved Palace of Fontainebleau is a masterpiece of French architecture and art, and rightly deserves its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. A royal hunting lodge in the Middle Ages, King Francis I's residence in the 16th century and Napoleon Bonaparte's favourite place to stay in the early 19th century, today it attracts visitors from all over the world.
The tour of the Palace interior takes in the sumptuously furnished State Apartments, including the impressive Francis I Gallery decorated with frescoes and stucco, the Ballroom with a monumental fireplace, the King's Staircase painted with scenes illustrating the life of Alexander the Great, the beautiful Baroque Trinity Chapel, the Pope's Apartment (formerly the Queen Mothers' Apartment) and the Imperial Inner Apartment. The Palace is also home to the Napoleon I Museum with a collection of portraits, clothes, objects and souvenirs of the Emperor and his family.
Leaving the Palace at the White Horse courtyard, admire the famous, magnificent horseshoe staircase built in the 17th century by Jean Androuet du Cerceau.
The Palace stands in absolutely stunning flower-filled grounds, with large formal parterres designed by Le Nôtre, a carp pond with a small pavilion, an English garden containing rare trees species, and Diane's garden with an elegant fountain. And for walkers, picnickers and joggers, there's also a huge wooded park.
In spring, the Palace of Fontainebleau hosts the annual Rencontres Musicales de Fontainebleau, a chamber music festival.