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While Napoleon I is the most closely associated with the Chateau de Fontainebleau, you can see evidence throughout the palace of the other rulers who used the chateau as a refuge from Paris. Although the first chateau was built here in the 1100s, Francois I was the king that converted the hunting lodge here into a palace in the 1500s, you can see Francois' symbol, a salamander, throughout. Henri II left his mark on the ballroom, you can see the intertwined initials there, the H&D is for his mistress Diane de Poitiers and H&C for his wife Catherine de Medici. Napoleon's symbol was a simple N.
Fontainebleau was a bit neglected during the years of Louis XIV-Louis XVI, Louis XIV after all had the magnificent Versailles which even today remains the most impressive chateau in the Ile de France. The chateau found importance again under the reign of Napoleon I, his influence can be seen more than any of the other rulers who lived or visited here, he restored Fontainebleau after the French Revolution when it's collections were sold off. After being forced to abdicate, Napoleon survived a suicide attempt by poisoning at the Chateau. On April 20, 1814 he bid farewell to his Imperial Guard from the horseshoe staircase in the chateau's Cour d’Honneur courtyard before being exiled to the island of Elba.
The visit to the grand apartments of the chateau is currently 10€ (the website says 8€ but my receipt says 10€) and includes an audioguide. The visit is quite extensive compared to other chateaux, I think it took us a couple of hours to tour the inside.
The chateau is closed on Tuesdays. Under 18 is free, under 26 is free if you come from the EU, included on the Paris Museum Pass.
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