Napoleon Bonaparte and Fontainebleau: a closely linked history

Napoleon Bonaparte and
Fontainebleau: a closely linked history

When it comes to Napoleon Bonapartes historical imprint, Fontainebleau stands out as one of the destinations where his influence and legacy live on to this day. Fontainebleau, with its remarkable cultural and historical wealth, witnessed key moments in the life of Napoleon I, helping to shape his history.

The Château de Fontainebleau: a privileged witness to imperial history

At the heart of this unique relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte and Fontainebleau lies the majestic Château de Fontainebleau. This architectural jewel, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has served as a residence for several rulers, including Napoleon I. It was in 1804, on the eve of his coronation, that Napoleon Bonaparte decided to make the Château de Fontainebleau one of his official residences. He then ordered the renovation of the palace, which was refurnished in just 19 days. Fontainebleau thus became the symbol of imperial power and the setting for numerous official ceremonies.

The château still carries the echoes of his presence, notably in iconic rooms like the renowned throne room, where Napoleon Bonaparte once presided over official ceremonies. The imperial flats also bear witness to the Emperor’s pomp and lifestyle. You can also visit the Napoleon I Museum and admire the recently renovated horseshoe staircase.

The Fontainebleau Forest: a favourite spot for Napoleon

The surrounding forest, known for its natural beauty and picturesque landscape, was a favourite refuge for Napoleon I. A hunting enthusiast, he found solace in escaping to this unspoilt natural setting. Some accounts even mention his moments of meditation and deep reflection during his sojourns in these majestic woods.

Cultural and historical heritage

Beyond the iconic sites, Fontainebleau is home to some fascinating anecdotes linked to Napoleon Bonaparte. Streets named after him and cultural events organised at the Château de Fontainebleau to perpetuate his memory enrich the local heritage, as do historical re-enactments. On 20 April 1814, Napoleon I bade farewell to his Guard on the Horseshoe Staircase of the Château de Fontainebleau, before going into exile. On 20 and 21 April 2024, 210 years later, relive this historic event with re-enactors who will immerse you in the moment and bring to life scenes of military life under the Empire.


A tourist destination

Pays de Fontainebleau is a must-see tourist destination for history lovers. Did you know that Fontainebleau is one of France’s imperial towns?

Just a stone’s throw from the château, the town of Fontainebleau has preserved the art of living and the elegance of the court. History lovers, don't miss the Aigle Noir Hotel M Gallery ****. The name says it all, and as soon as you enter, you are greeted by the two imposing eagles on the hotel porch. Legend has it that at the request of Napoleon, during his farewell, the eagles had to be repainted in black, the hotel also bears the name.

Find the new Hotel and Spa Napoleon****. As soon as you enter, you enter the Napoleonic world of this iconic hotel in the imperial city. The entrance hall features two very large paintings of the emperor, and the vast gallery leading to a pretty patio is dotted with busts and engravings of Napoleon. All the furniture was designed in the Empire style.

For a taste of history and gourmet delights, come and sample the delicious chocolate bicorne made by artisan pastry chef Frédéric Cassel. Maison Cassel offers delicious Napoleonic bicorns. An assortment of pralines in an elegant 3D box featuring the Château de Fontainebleau! Take the opportunity to treat yourself to a gourmet break in Frédéric Cassels elegant tearoom in Fontainebleau.

Château de Fontainebleau


Le Château de Fontainebleau, c’est l’histoire de France ! Ce vaste édifice de style classique et renaissance, n’est pas seulement célèbre pour avoir vécu l’aventure impériale de Napoléon.

Hôtel & Spa Napoléon


Hôtel emblématique de cette cité impériale et nature, cette bâtisse du 17e siècle ajoute un nouveau chapitre à sa propre histoire et à celle des bellifontains avec l’arrivée d’un hôtel pensé comme une maison épicurienne.

Pâtisserie Cassel


Frédéric Cassel invente une pâtisserie à la fois délicate et généreuse, authentique et joyeuse qui marie avec bonheur les parfums les plus surprenants.

Discover the Fontainebleau Military Riding School

Who doesn’t know this painting by David showing a spirited and courageous Napoleon ? Bonaparte crossing the Great Saint Bernard is a testament to the strong link between Napoleon and the horse, the companion of victory that fostered Napoleon’s image as a hero.
The Military Riding School a stone's throw from the château, preserves the presence of Napoleon I. There are the emperor’s stables and, listed as a Historic Monument, the Sénarmont merry-go-round, specially commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte and the only one of its kind with an impressive ceiling in the shape of an inverted ship’s hull. Every month, the Pays de Fontainebleau Tourist Office organises a guided tour of this historic site, a temple to the military equestrian tradition.

By exploring these lands steeped in history, you can feel the Emperor’s imprint, immerse yourself in his era and understand a little better the undeniable link between Napoleon I and Fontainebleau.

The Pays de Fontainebleau, with its historical and natural treasures, remains an emblematic place with an indelible link to Napoleon Bonaparte, making it a must-see for history lovers.

Online booking

In this section, you can book not only your accommodation directly online, but also various sports, cultural and wellness activities.

Book your activity online

The Pays de Fontainebleau Tourist Office offers a wide range of activities to help you recharge your batteries and make the most of nature, while (re)discovering the great and small heritage of the Pays de Fontainebleau.
These sports, cultural and well-being activities all have educational qualities to give the public a better understanding of the destination’s natural and cultural heritage: outdoor activities, guided tours in the heart of the Fontainebleau forest, visits to the imperial town of Fontainebleau, the painter’s village of Barbizon, discovering the park and gardens of the Château de Fontainebleau…
Our guided tours are an opportunity to learn more about this exceptional forest, because we are
convinced that the more you know about the forest, the more you love it and the more you
learn to protect it!
We take care to involve local partners in all our activities in order to promote local actors. Our partners are recognised for their expertise, their strong commitment to preserving the environment and their knowledge of the region’s heritage. The Pays de Fontainebleau Tourist
Office offers its visitors a complete range of experiences in the destination.

Give an activity gift voucher

The Pays de Fontainebleau Tourist Office is offering activity gift vouchers VALID FOR 1 YEAR to treat those you love. Meaningful gifts that they can enjoy when the time comes.
Offering gentle, simple experiences in harmony with nature, and experiences that allow you to rediscover the beauty of our heritage and history.
All the activity providers are based in the area and are keen to help you discover, appreciate and preserve it.
A thoughtful way of offering new experiences through these gift vouchers available online.

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