This weekend's adventure took us to the Fontainebleau Chateau and forest about 45 minutes south of Paris. Colin his wife, Felicity, invited us to stay at their home for the weekend. They live in Chailly-en-Biere, a small village just outside of Fontainebleau.
From Brussels it is about a 3 hour drive. But as always, we took the very long route and got there in 8 hours. But.....D surprised me and took me to a chateau for the most wonderful three hour lunch!
The food was delicious and the presentation beautiful.
My favorite part was the three-course dessert. Once we had finished our meal, they brought us a little pineapple cream "pre-dessert", then the dessert we had ordered, and when we had coffee a whole array of additional desserts arrived, including a lollipop bouquet (note all the little desserts on the bottom).
close up of the little desserts:
and homemade marshmallows:
Ah............I needed a nap after all that food!
The sky was absolutely beautiful and of course I had to take many photos along the way.
This was a pile of carrots, not sure what they were doing with them, but this boy was having a ball climbing on them. The smell of carrots was so strong as we drove by.
We like to stay off the main highways and take back roads, this does add time to our trip, but you never know what you might see.
I love this photo as think it looks more like a painting than a photo.
We arrived at Colin and Felicity's for dinner. They have a lovely home with a swimming pool. Colin made shish-kabobs on the grill and we had corn on the cob. Both special treats for us as we do not get either in Brussels. They are from England but have lived in France for over 18 years. We really enjoyed having our breakfast and dinner in the open sun-room.
On Saturday morning, D and I headed to the Chateau and Colin and Felicity met up with us for lunch in town.
The Royal Chateau of Fontainebleau is one of the largest French royal chateaux. It was started in 1528, the work was carried out in several stages that lasted until the 18th century; hence the irregularity in plan and lack of unity in style.
Napoleon I lived there. It was amazing to think we were walking the same steps as Napoleon. He had one of the first tubs placed in the Chateau. They said he was much cleaner than his contemporaries and took a bath most every day.
An interesting tid-bit I learned, that the word we use today for our small bathrooms, "powder room", came from the rooms they used to freshen up in. Instead of taking baths back then, the people used to powder themselves down and there were rooms set up for them to do it. The original powder rooms did not contain a toilet, sink, or bath.
It was hard to take photos inside as they did not allow flash - but this one came out and I wanted to share how elaborate the rooms were decorated. The walls are lined with exquisite tapestry.
There were many gardens, all very beautiful and an unusual white peacock. We had never seen one a white one before
It is hard to describe the light and colors in this forest. During the 1820s and ‘30s, artists of the romantic period like Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Jules Coignet sought out Fontainebleau as their ´natural studio´ because of this unusual light. They were followed by the Barbizon painters, who took the art of landscape in a new direction, setting the scene for young artists who would eventually become the Impressionists, like Monet.
It was fun as Felicity had a book of many of the paintings done in the forest. Below is a copy from her book:
Compared to a photo I took:
We left sunday mid morning for our drive home. We stopped at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Laon.
We have been in at least 75 cathedrals all over Europe, and you would think they all would begin to look the same. But they don't. Each one has something very unique and different. This one was quite old, dating back to 1160, and was used as the inspiration for the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!