Follow the route up and down, up your desire.
FontainebleauRoyal apartments finely decorated, enormous French gardens, towers and dungeons... From its rich historical past, the greater Parisian area has maintained its fabulous castles. Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau, its magical forest, not to mention Barbizon and Moret-sur-Loing...
Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau
Two magnificent castles less than one hour from Paris. To get there, climb aboard a Parisvision coach. This agency, situated on the rue de Rivoli, proposes, in the summer months, perfectly regimented visits: Vaux le Vicomte in the morning, Fontainebleau in the afternoon!
10 a.m. : the coach drops you in front of the Vaux Le Vicomte Castle .
You are now standing in front of one of the most beautiful castles in the Parisian region. Savour the silence that reigns over the domain... The Vaux castle imposes its beautiful stones in the middle of long lawns, inserted into the nearby forest: an exceptional site!
Accompanied by an audio-guide, you will discover the refinement and the architectural richness of the castle. The children can even hire period costumes, to wander the castle as a musketeer or a princess!
In Nicolas Fouquet's bedroom, don't miss the bust of Jean de la Fontaine, who guards the throne in the midst of his fantastical animal tapestries. The spotlights placed above the fabulist change intensity each minute to evoke the various expressions of his face... a veritable spectacle of illusions!
For 2 euros, you can access the castle dome and discover the magnificent structure of the 17th-century: an architectural jewel. The beams still exude the odour of wood, and if you reach the round tower on the outside you can see beyond the castle and the gardens. Sculpted trees, flower gardens full of red, blue and green arabesques.
To finish off the visit, take a walk through the vaulted caves of the castle, beautifully decorated. You will now find a sumptuous French garden: 35 hectares of plants, trees, and waterbeds invite you to partake in a leisurely stroll. You may even decide to hire an electric car! Take advantage of the gardens and enjoy a picnic lunch on the lawn or take a few steps further to find the restaurant Ecureuil before getting back on the coach for Fontainebleau.
2 p.m. : The coach drops you in front of the Fontainebleau Castle , a jewel of renaissance art, inherited from the 15th-century, that counts more than 1500 rooms, including the Petits Appartements (Small Apartments), completely restored and open to the public since 2007.
One of the highlights of the visit is the Galerie du roi François 1er (The Gallery of King Francis 1st). Admire the golden ceiling: this is the first great creation of the French Renaissance, realised by the Italian artists.
A bit further on, the Empress's bedroom, where Anne of Austria and Marie of Medicis slept. Descend one floor, you will stumble upon the Holy Chapel, where Napoleon was baptised and where Louis XV was married. Take the time to sit a while: if you're lucky, you may be in for a bit of opera: from time to time, professional singers give an impromptu concert for the visitors from the balcony of the Holy Chapel!
Fontainebleau Castle is surrounded by 130 hectares of gardens: enter by the cour des Fontaines to access the English garden that gives way to the Etang aux Carpes: this is the occasion to hire a small boat to row along the water. You may also choose to explore the magnificent gardens, known as « Grand Parterre » : a model of a French garden, designed by Le Nôtre, by horse and carriage.
Afterwards, discover the Diane Garden for a more intimate promenade. Don't miss the fountain « Diane à la Biche ». The hunting goddess holds a deer by the horns, while shooting an arrow with her other hand.
5 p.m.: After a day full of charming discoveries, the Parisvision coach drives you back to Paris.
Proposed options at Vaux le Vicomte :
Magical Fountains : from March to April (in the afternoon), the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, the fountains and waterfalls of the garden come to life and transport you back to the refinement of the 17th-century.
Candlelight visit : Saturdays, from May to October, and Fridays in July and August, at twilight, more than 2000 candles are lit throughout the castle and in the gardens.
Best Means of Transport
The ParisVision Agency proposes a daily voyage by coach to Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau, from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., for 25 euros. (40 euros if you buy the tickets to the castles in the morning.) Departs from 214 rue de Rivoli, at the exit of the metro Tuileries. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays in July and August only. A similar circuit is organised on Mondays and Fridays, from July to October, and proposes a visit to Barbizon, Fontainebleau and Vaux le vicomte, in the same day.
The Chateau-bus : to get to Vaux le Vicomte.
From la gare de Lyon, take the train to Melun. The Chateau-bus shuttle will collect you in front of the station and take you to the castle. Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, from April to October.
Chateau-bus Hours : http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/horaires-chateaubus.php