Alexandra’s family lives in the region of Fontainebleau named “Seine-et-Marne”, affectionately nicknamed “77” (to pronounce 7-7/set-set) by the locals. We have spent all our time there during lockdown and we enjoyed re-discovering one beautiful and more rural area of France. Fontainebleau offers a beautiful and majestuous castle: “The château de Fontainebleau” as well as a forest, full of hikes and diverse landscapes where we love to wander around. It is one of our favourite nature escape less than one hour away from Paris .
We recommend a stop to Fontainebleau for people travelling around France for a few weeks, as well as for traveller visiting Paris for a few days who would enjoy a break from the stress of the big city. It is a very peaceful and easy to organise day or week-end near Paris which will please nature and sport lover for its forest as well as culture lovers for its chateau and historic legacy. It is a very safe area, perfectly suitable for family filled with great restaurants and picturesque stop. While you can enjoy everything by train, having a car will enable you to visit the little cities nearby and access some walk further from the main city.
How to go to Fontainebleau from Paris
Fontainebleau is located 70km South West of Paris. From Paris centre, you can drive there in around 1 hour. We strongly recommend you to install Waze on your phone as French traffic is quite dense (or better, to catch a train).
Fontainebleau is accessible easily by train from Gare de Lyon (line R). The train station is called “Fontainebleau-Avon” and the trip takes around 40 minutes from Paris. From the train station, you can take a bus (1) directly to the castle (stop : Château) or walk for around 30 minutes.
Fontainebleau – The City and its castle
The city of Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau, and its history cannot be dissociated from its renowned castle. Its castle first mention appears in 1137, but acquired its reputation only after Francois Ier decided to build one palace inspired by its visit to Italy in 1528. Since then, Fontainebleau’s palace was home to some of the most famous people of French history: Henry IV, Napoleon, … Over 30 of the French kings and emperors settled home there.
The city is steeped in culture and history with its imperial legacy, and the city is filled with old plaza and historic monuments. Its streets are very clean and the atmosphere peaceful. Fontainebleau is definitely a perfect place for a family visit for a short week-end break.
The Château of Fontainebleau
The Palace of Fontainebleau (Château de Fontainebleau in French) is one of the French largest royal château. Initially a medieval castle, it was turned into a palace by Francois I. The château de Fontainebleau is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1981.
The chateau of Fontainebleau is renowned for its garden and its banks. If you are not a big fan of castle, at least have a walk along the canals, you will love it! You can stop there and relax for a while. It is very common for people from the surroundings to gather there for a glass of rosé or to spend the afternoon reading a book.
Where to eat in Fontainebleau
Antica Trattoria – Italian restaurant in Fontainebleau
Antica Trattoria is a familial pizza place and italian restaurant in Fontainebleau. It is located in the pedestrian area of the city and offers a perfect and comfortable terrace, very appreciated in summer. The product are excellent, the staff very friendly and we can only recommend a dinner there after a visit to the castle. The only downside: it get full quickly and you can book a table at the terrace only for 7pm.
Antica Trattoria, 1 Rue des Bouchers, Fontainebleau. Phone: +22.214.171.124.05.61. Opened everyday for lunch and diner.
Fuùmi – Japanese restaurant Fontainebleau
Fuùmi was one of the most positive surprise we discovered last year in the region. Settled in one of the most emblematic street of Fontainebleau, Fuùmi offers a Japanese/French fusion cuisine at reasonable price. We loved their Wagyu beef and their foie gras tempura. Here as well, you should book if you want to be sure to have a table!
Fuùmi, 39 rue de France, Fontainebleau. Phone: +126.96.36.199.10.32. Opened 12am to 2pm and 7pm to 10pm except Sunday.
As one of the largest forest near Paris, the beautiful “Forêt de Fontainebleau” attracts sports and nature lovers from all over Paris! With over 20,000 hectares of forest, it offers an impressive playgrounds for hikers and climbers.
The forest landscapes are very diverse, with ferns, pines, oak trees and many strange and challenging rocks to climb. Throughout our hikes in the forest, we had the opportunity to also meet several animals such as deers, wild boars or squirrels. Many people love to hike there but they are overall, relatively respectful of the nature and the environment. We rarely noticed trashes or people voluntarily damaging the forest.
Our favourite hikes in the Forest of Fontainebleau
There are many ways to discover the forest of Fontainebleau, one of them is simply wandering around with a good map and following the path as you discover them.
We compiled a short list of easy walk, but you can find plenty more on Visorando or AllTrails. The most famous and quite difficult one is “le Circuit des 25 bosses” which is comparable to a walk in the mountain in difficulty. We did not have the chance to finish it yet with Alexandra – it will be added to this article once we do!
Another very popular walk near Fontainebleau forest is the GR13. It departs from Fontainbleau and ends in St-Maurice-Sur-Averyon. It is a quite long walk (130km) with several days. We’ll hopefully do it soon enough to talk about it on the blog too!
We are not into climbing, but as you walk in the forest of Fontainebleau, you will see plenty of people bouldering them in case they fall. It is a very popular activity in the forest with many marked climbing trails clearly indicated. You can read more about that activity there.
The Gorges d’Apremont
A one hour trail, easy to do even with young children. The Gorges d’Apremont are in a beautiful forest site mixing sands, rocks and trees. From the parking, the trail is well indicated with yellow mark and panels.
You can find the map and the waypoints on Alltrails. This itinerary is a bit longer than the simple loop and pass by “La Caverne des Brigands”, a little restaurant in the forest where you can stop for food or drinks.
The gorges de Franchard
The Gorges de Franchard are another popular area for walk in the forest. The landscape is very chaoatic with rocks and pools and oak trees.
The Gorges de Franchard walk can be done in 1 hour, and is clearly indicated with 2 yellow guys that are displayed on panels.
You can find the map and the waypoints on Alltrails.
The Tour Denecourt
The walk to the Tour Denecourt is a pretty nice walk that can be done by leaving from Fontainebleau-Avon trainstation. The tour is an old watchtower, at 136m high used to watch over the forest. The circuit is quite easy, with a bit of climbing (not suitable to dogs or too young children).
You can find the map and the waypoints on Visorando.
Kayak near Fontainebleau – The Loing river
Our favourite river to kayak in Seine et Marne is the Loing. It is a wild and beautiful river that you can only descend as the itinerary has a few spillways.
For a day of Kayaking, you can start from Grez-Sur-Loing, whether with your own Kayak or by renting one (for example at top-loisir that we chose the first time, before we owned a kayak). From there, you will head to Morêt-sur-Loing, passing by many beautiful houses and various landscapes.
The itinerary is easy for anyone with a bit of experience with a kayak, but still pretty fun with the spillway. It is clearly indicated and the arrival at Morêt-sur-Loing cannot be miss (the city is also very picturesque and well worth a visit!).
Kayak near Fontainebleau – The Seine
There are several other place you can Kayak in the Fontainebleau forest. Our other favourite places are Bois-Le-Roi and its base de loisir where you can also rent Kayak and near Samois sur Seine. You will find many itineraries possible from there.
Barbizon – A bucolic walk near Fontainebleau
Originally a lumberjack village which is now known as the village of painters in Seine and Marne. The pre-impressionist movement, initiated by Jean-François Millet and Théodore Rousseau who wanted to represent the Seine and Marne landscapes with accuracy, has made Barbizon famous and essential for locals. It is now a bucolic walk that awaits you, punctuated by numerous stops in the art galleries. Some restaurants are apparently excellent, we unfortunately could not try them during lockdown, but let us know if you have recommendations in comments!
As Alexandra’s family still lives in Seine et Marne, we are lucky enough to visit the area quite often. As we spent our lockdown there, we also had the time to discover the area a little more and especially to enjoy many walks in the Fontainebleau forest. We have done many more than the ones we have detailed in the article but we have listed our favourite ones. Let us know in comments if you have any questions or if you need help planning a day trip from Paris to Fontainebleau, or if you are looking for a specific itinerary. We will be glad to help!