Palace of Fontainebleau
Coat of arms of Fontainebleau
Location of Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is located in France
Fontainebleau is located in Île-de-France (region)
Coordinates: 48°24′35″N 2°42′09″E / 48.4097°N 2.7025°E / 48.4097; 2.7025
IntercommunalityCA Pays de Fontainebleau
 • Mayor (2022–2026) Julien Gondard[1]
172.05 km2 (66.43 sq mi)
 • Density93/km2 (240/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
77186 /77300
Elevation42–150 m (138–492 ft)
(avg. 69 m or 226 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Fontainebleau (/ˈfɒntɪnbl/ FON-tin-bloh, US also /-bl/ -⁠bloo, French: [fɔ̃tɛnblo] )[3] is a commune in the metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located 55.5 kilometres (34.5 mi) south-southeast of the centre of Paris. Fontainebleau is a sub-prefecture of the Seine-et-Marne department, and it is the seat of the arrondissement of Fontainebleau. The commune has the largest land area in the Île-de-France region; it is the only one to cover a larger area than Paris itself. The commune is closest to Seine-et-Marne Prefecture, Melun.

Fontainebleau, together with the neighbouring commune of Avon and three other smaller communes, form an urban area of 36,724 inhabitants (2018). This urban area is a satellite of Paris.

Fontainebleau is renowned for the large and scenic forest of Fontainebleau, a favourite weekend getaway for Parisians, as well as for the historic Château de Fontainebleau, which once belonged to the kings of France. It is also the home of INSEAD, one of the world's most elite business schools.

Inhabitants of Fontainebleau are called Bellifontains.



Fontaine Belle-Eau, the spring which gave its name to Fontainebleau

According to the official chateau history, "Fontainebleau" took its name in the 16th century from the "Fontaine Belle-Eau", a natural fresh water spring located in the English garden not far from the chateau. The name means "Spring of beautiful water". In the 19th century the spring was rebuilt to flow into an octagonal stone basin. [4][5]

Before the 16th century, Fontainebleau was recorded in the Latinised forms Fons Bleaudi, Fons Bliaudi, and Fons Blaadi in the 12th and 13th centuries, and as Fontem blahaud in 1137. In the 17th century it was also sometimes called by the fanciful Latin Fons Bellaqueus [6] This the origin of the name Bellifontains sometimes used for residents.

A popular legend says that the spring and forest took their names from a favorite hunting dog of King Louis IX named "Blaud" or "Blau". According to the legend, during a hunt the dog became separated from the King, who finally found him by the spring.[7]

According to another source, the name comes from the medieval compound noun of fontaine, meaning spring and fountain, and blitwald, consisting of the Germanic personal name Blit and the Germanic word for forest.[8]


This hamlet was endowed with a royal hunting lodge and a chapel by Louis VII in the middle of the twelfth century. A century later, Louis IX, also called Saint Louis, who held Fontainebleau in high esteem and referred to it as "his wilderness", had a country house and a hospital constructed there.

Philip the Fair was born there in 1268 and died there in 1314. In all, thirty-four sovereigns, from Louis VI, the Fat, (1081–1137) to Napoleon III (1808–1873), spent time at Fontainebleau.

The connection between the town of Fontainebleau and the French monarchy was reinforced with the transformation of the royal country house into a true royal palace, the Palace of Fontainebleau. This was accomplished by the great builder-king, Francis I (1494–1547), who, in the largest of his many construction projects, reconstructed, expanded, and transformed the royal château at Fontainebleau into a residence that became his favourite, as well as the residence of his mistress, Anne, duchess of Étampes.

From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, every monarch, from Francis I to Louis XV, made important renovations at the Palace of Fontainebleau, including demolitions, reconstructions, additions, and embellishments of various descriptions, all of which endowed it with a character that is a bit heterogeneous, but harmonious nonetheless.

Fontainebleau palace garden fountain and Grand canal

On 18 October 1685, Louis XIV signed the Edict of Fontainebleau there. Also known as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, this royal fiat reversed the permission granted to the Huguenots in 1598 to worship publicly in specified locations and hold certain other privileges. The result was that a large number of Protestants were forced to convert to the Catholic faith, killed, or forced into exile, mainly in the Low Countries, Prussia and in England.[9]

The 1762 Treaty of Fontainebleau, a secret agreement between France and Spain concerning the Louisiana territory in North America, was concluded here. Also, preliminary negotiations, held before the 1763 Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Seven Years' War, were at Fontainebleau.

During the French Revolution, Fontainebleau was temporarily renamed Fontaine-la-Montagne, meaning "Fountain by the Mountain". (The mountain referred to is the series of rocky formations located in the forest of Fontainebleau.)

On 29 October 1807, Manuel Godoy, chancellor to the Spanish king, Charles IV and Napoleon signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which authorized the passage of French troops through Spanish territories so that they might invade Portugal.

On 20 June 1812, Pope Pius VII arrived at the château of Fontainebleau, after a secret transfer from Savona, accompanied by his personal physician, Balthazard Claraz. In poor health, the Pope was the prisoner of Napoleon, and he remained in his genteel prison at Fontainebleau for nineteen months. From June 1812 until 23 January 1814, the Pope never left his apartments.

On 20 April 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte, shortly before his first abdication, bid farewell to the Old Guard, the renowned grognards (gripers) who had served with him since his first campaigns, in the "White Horse Courtyard" (la cour du Cheval Blanc) at the Palace of Fontainebleau. (The courtyard has since been renamed the "Courtyard of Goodbyes".) According to contemporary sources, the occasion was very moving. The 1814 Treaty of Fontainebleau stripped Napoleon of his powers (but not his title as Emperor of the French) and sent him into exile on Elba.

Until the 19th century, Fontainebleau was a village and a suburb of Avon. Later, it developed as an independent residential city.

Historical reenactment in Fontainebleau of the bicentenary of Napoleon's Farewell to the Old Guard, 20 April 2014. Napoleon is going down the famous stairs of Fontainebleau castle to meet with the Old Guard.

For the 1924 Summer Olympics, the town played host to the riding portion of the modern pentathlon event. This event took place near a golf course.[10]

In July and August 1946, the town hosted the Franco-Vietnamese Conference, intended to find a solution to the long-contested struggle for Vietnam's independence from France, but the conference ended in failure.

Fontainebleau also hosted the general staff of the Allied Forces in Central Europe (Allied Forces Center or AFCENT) and the land forces command (LANDCENT); the air forces command (AIRCENT) was located nearby at Camp Guynemer. These facilities were in place from the inception of NATO until France's partial withdrawal from NATO in 1967 when the United States returned those bases to French control. NATO moved AFCENT to Brunssum in the Netherlands and AIRCENT to Ramstein in West Germany. (The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, also known as SHAPE, was located at Rocquencourt, west of Paris, quite a distance from Fontainebleau).

In 2008, the men's World Championship of Real Tennis (Jeu de Paume) was held in the tennis court of the Chateau. The real tennis World Championship is the oldest in sport and Fontainebleau has one of only two active courts in France.


Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on
Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1968 18,094—    
1975 16,778−1.07%
1982 15,679−0.96%
1990 15,714+0.03%
1999 15,942+0.16%
2007 15,740−0.16%
2012 14,908−1.08%
2017 14,886−0.03%
Source: INSEE[11]


Fontainebleau is a popular tourist destination; each year, 300,000 people visit the palace[12] and more than 13 million people visit the forest.[13]

Fontainebleau forest

The forest of Fontainebleau surrounds the town and dozens of nearby villages. It is protected by France's Office National des Forêts, and it is recognised as a French national park. It is managed in order that its wild plants and trees, such as the rare service tree of Fontainebleau, and its populations of birds, mammals, and butterflies, can be conserved. It is a former royal hunting park often visited by hikers and horse riders. The forest is also well regarded for bouldering and is particularly popular among climbers, as it is the biggest developed area of that kind in the world.

Royal Château de Fontainebleau

The Royal Château de Fontainebleau is a large palace where the kings of France took their ease. It is also the site where the French royal court, from 1528 onwards, entertained the body of new ideas that became known as the Renaissance.

Town centre


The European (and historic) campus of the INSEAD business school is located at the edge of Fontainebleau, by the Lycee Francois Couperin. INSEAD students live in local accommodations around the Fontainebleau area, and especially in the surrounding towns.

Other notables

The graves of G. I. Gurdjieff and Katherine Mansfield can be found in the cemetery at Avon.


Fontainebleau is served by two stations on the Transilien Paris–Lyon rail line: Fontainebleau–Avon and Thomery. Fontainebleau–Avon station, the station closest to the centre of Fontainebleau, is located near the dividing-line between the commune of Fontainebleau and the commune of Avon, on the Avon side of the border.


Fontainebleau has a campus of the Centre hospitalier Sud Seine et Marne.

Notable people


Fontainebleau is twinned with the following cities:

Image gallery

See also


The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Miscellanies, Volume III, Edinburgh, Longmans Green and Co, 1895 "Fontainebleau : Village Communities of Painters" p.201-226


  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires" (in French)., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises. 13 September 2022.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2021". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2023.
  3. ^ "Fontainebleau". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  4. ^ History Plaque on the Fountain in January, 2024
  5. ^ Hebert and Sarmant, "Fontainebleau- Milles ans d'histoire de France", (2020), p. 26
  6. ^ Marianne Mulon, Noms de lieux d’Île-de-France, Bonneton, Paris, 1997, (ISBN 2862532207).
  7. ^ "Le Monde", 25 May 2003, "Fontainebleau en Legend", 29 May 2003
  8. ^ Albert Dauzat and Charles Rostaing, Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de lieu en France, Librairie Guénégaud, Paris, 1979.
  9. ^ Meromedia, BUFFET Andre. "Article – The Edict of Fontainebleau or the Revocation (1685)". Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  10. ^ 1924 Olympics official report. pp. 501–3. (in French)
  11. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  12. ^ "Château de Fontainebleau" (in French). Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Forêt de Fontainebleau" (in French). Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  14. ^ "Fontainebleau -Village Communities of Painters". Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  15. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.