Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Day at Château de Fontainebleau

Earlier this month, Flammarion introduced the newest addition to its well-received series of French landmark-focused books, A Day at Château de Fontainebleau, which joins the previously published A Day at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, A Day at Versailles, and A Day with Marie Antoinette.

While the "A Day at..." series' slip-cased format and bijou-size make these books enticing to collect, it is their concise yet nonetheless engaging text, not to mention their gorgeous photos, that make this series a worthwhile read.  Akin to a private tour, A Day at Château de Fontainebleau, written by Guillaume Picon with photography by Eric Sander, gives readers an up-close view of this former royal residence, once home to the likes of François I, Louis XIV, and Napoléon.  With its many photos of the palace's sumptuous details and its sometimes intimate though often sweeping architecture, the book makes it crystal clear why this château has earned its reputation as one of France's architectural gems.

And if you do as I did and devote a cozy afternoon to reading the book in its entirety, you'll not only find yourself the wiser for having read it, but you'll feel as though you spent a few grand hours within the confines of a most magnificent palace.

Begun under François I, the loggia was converted into a ballroom by Henri II. The frescoes were painted between 1550 and 1558 by Niccolo dell'Abate and his team, after drawings by Primaticcio.

Bedchamber in the apartments of Madame de Maintenon. The bed was supplied for Madame Élisabeth, daughter of Louis XV.

The Emperor's Bedchamber, with his giltwood state bed covered in plum-covered velvet with a pattern of flowers and laurel leaves, rewoven in Lyon in the late twentieth century to match the original fabric.

In 2014, the Imperial Theater, inaugurated by Napoleon III and Eugénie and closed for the last 150 years, was opened to the public once more.

The Pond Pavilion, built by Louis XIV and restored under Napoléon Bonaparte.

All images ©Eric Sander, from A Day at Château de Fontainebleau (Flammarion, 2015).


  1. Visual feast, many thanks!

  2. Alexis Purr12:03 PM

    It's rather tricky making love in a bed like that. You would either fall off the edge or break the headboard! Much more sensible to have it pushed-up against the wall. They were much more sensible about these things before the Revolution.

  3. The concept of Flammarion's "Day at.." series is admirable. Gorgeous photographs; and who doesn't melt at the rare sight of a slip case? The problem, for me at any rate, is the disappointingly mean dimensions of the books themselves. At 5 and 7/8 by 9 inches, the format is distinctly at odds with the subject matter and worse than that, nearly impossible to open the pages comfortably. The reader's pleasure is compromised, which is rather a shame considering the noble intentions of these publications.

  4. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Had the good fortune to spend a couple days in Fontainebleau between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tourism is way down: I was the only person on each of the three guided tours that I took through various parts of the chateau; normally, the guides said, there would be 25-30 people on each. Highly recommended.