July 29, 2013

On my second last day in Europe, I took a train ride 55 km. south of Paris to Fontainebleau, a picturesque little town that features Palace of Fontainebleau, nestled in what remains of the Forest of Fountainebleau, the formerly the royal hunting park. Before there was a Versailles, Kings and Queens of France used Fontainbleau as a favoured residence. An older chateau existed since the 12th century, but the current structure was commissioned by Francis I and completed in 1540, with King Henry II and his wife Marie de' Medici added extensive improvements. By the 18th century, the Palace was falling into disrepair, until Napoleon arrived in 1804 (Versailles and its Bourbon connections was avoided). The Palace we see today is pretty much the same as the one Napoleon fixed up until his exile in 1814, adding the cobblestone entrance wide enough for his carriage, among other improvements. More recently in 2011, Lana Del Rey filmed her video for Born To Die

After getting back to Paris, I went to L'église Saint-Eustache, finished in 1632. It's a church with such good accoustics that Mozart insisted his mother's funeral be held there. St. Eustache was a Roman General from the 2nd Century, who was burned with his family because of his conversion to Christianity.

Above: The Fontainbleau Palace

Picture 1 is the hall with paintings of Napoleon, his officers, his family, and two wives
Picture 2 is a recreation of Napoleon's quarters when he on a military campaign
Pictures 3 and 4 is the room where Napoleon's babies were kept when very young, and detail from a vase in the room
Pictures 5 to 9 are rooms that were renovated in less than 2 weeks for Pope Pius VII, who stayed as a guest to consecrate Napoleon in 1804,
   and then as a prisoner from 1812 to 1814, including his bedroom with beautiful wall rugs (#7 and #8)
Picture 10 is the view down to into the Trinity Chapel from the gallery

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