A Day Trip to Fontainebleau

Me and Christian Kinnersley
Outside the Palace

I don’t really talk about day trips, or places outside of Paris on here, because a) they don’t have to do with Paris, and b) I didn’t really do them. I wanted to, but I like to have an adventure partner, so I was never motivated to do them on my own. I know it’s not very feminist, but I like having someone to share those memories with. It’s my hope that I find that one day soon. 

There are quite a number of day trips that are possible. Some even only a one hour train ride away. I will try to talk more about the day trips that are possible from Paris once I return (I refuse to do lockdown, or winter, and am on vacation. More about my travels on my other site). 

Now that I have money, I am definitely motivated to start doing them, even if it sucks not having someone to share trips with. I am looking forward to Mont-Saint-Michel though. I honestly cannot wait to finally see it in person. It’s been on my bucket list for a long time. I’ll talk more about a French website I use, that sells discount trips, in a later post. 

However this is something a little closer to home, and was definitely one of those things that I thought would be easier than it was. One summer I had been living in Montmartre on the street of the Amelie grocery store (on rue Androuet). The artist who’s magasin I had been renting, rented the flat out for a week that summer to a Dutch company that had rented the entire street out for some kind of Dutch exhibition. She explained there was nothing she could do so I had to find something else. 

The search ended up being done rather quickly. I decided that I wanted to get out of Paris for a little while so I looked at Airbnb listings outside of the city. I found a cheap little house in Poligny. I messaged the woman who owned it, and she agreed to pick me up at the train station in Nemours a few hours later. I left for Gare de Lyon that afternoon.

Since it was June or perhaps early July, but I was still technically working that last week before school vacations, I had to come back into Paris throughout the week. On the train to and from I passed by Fontainebleau-Avon each time. I would say it was about halfway through my 60 minute journey. 

A few years later, during the summer of 2019 Christian Kinnersley had been in town for his usual weekend visit. We always did some form of exploring when he was around so I thought why not finally check out Fontainebleau? I knew it was close, and it seemed easy enough to do a quick trip.

From my past visits, I knew that it was easy to get in and out of the city. I had learned to do so on my own. But for whatever reason this was not. Christian was always agitated when we went anywhere, like he didn’t want to believe I knew what I was doing, and I always felt like I was walking on eggshells to keep him from blowing up at me, which he did when he felt like he was not in control. It didn’t help matters. What used to be easy for me ended up being harder because he treated me like I was an idiot who didn’t know what I was talking about. He always believed I never knew anything.

For whatever reason he and I had the hardest time at Gare de Lyon (which is the station you need to leave from). We had trouble getting the ticket, and SNCF wasn’t helpful . I remember before that I would go to the window, and they would do it all for me, but this time we had to use the ticket machine. I couldn’t remember what type of ticket (it looked like a regular old île de France ticket) I had previously purchased. Funny enough I found some of my unused Poligny tickets later on. 

Finding the train was also difficult. It used to be L, but had changed to M, and was all the way at the end of the platform so we couldn’t see it. The board wasn’t helpful in telling us the departures. We just happened to flag another SNCF worker, who actually made sense, and caught it right as it was leaving. 

We rode to the Fontainebleu stop. When we got there I figured it’d be pretty easy to find the palace, but you actually have to take a bus (so have a ticket ready), and basically you’re bum rushing this ‘line’ with all of the other people who have the same idea to visit as you. Suffice to say the heat, chaffing thighs, and the people crushed together, didn’t help matters. 

We got off at the Palace stop and from there it was easy enough. You walk into the garden and up to the Chateau. I was a little disappointed that the chapel Lana del Rey so famously shot Born to Die in was under construction. It didn’t look as impressive as in the video. But I enjoyed seeing the Palace, even if it was smaller than I thought it would be. I would say even with the number of people, it isn’t nearly as crowded as Versailles. 

Afterwards we found a little food truck in the courtyard and sat in the sun. For some reason silly little things like enjoying a Schweppes Agrum together always made me blissfully happy. I guess I don’t really need a lot, just his company, to have found it to be an amazing experience so maybe my memory of it doesn’t align, but what can I say the man I love, in the sun, surrounded by architectural beauty? I’m very easy to please and clearly don’t need much. We also sat on benches around the lake, which was the only shady part in the area. It was a magnificent, lazy day. Truly a good way to spend some time. I would suggest packing a picnic if you go as there isn’t any food on the grounds, and it would be quite nice to sit in the grass and enjoy one. 

We somehow managed to walk out of the gardens to a grassy area, allé d’Avon, and from there we kept walking into the residential part along rue Carnot around the roundabout to rue Nelly Kopp. We were a bit turned around but thankfully, eventually, managed to find the train station (Fontainebleau-Avon) with the train back to Paris. I remember it had a community library in front of it, and I was able to procure a pristine English edition of Madeleine in Paris (which I gave to my little ones in the 16th). We took the train back into Paris probably only having spent 3 or 4 hours there. 

Had it not been so hot perhaps we would have spent more time. I think it was also a Sunday so we couldn’t find anywhere to eat. As you can see from my face I was over it. France in the summer is really not a fun time. I would never recommend anyone visit Paris during the months of June to September. Unless you like to be a sweaty mess, humidity mixed with heat fills you with joy, and constant heat stroke sounds like fun (despite hailing from Texas I never had heatstroke before being in France).

All in all the trip can be done in a few hours. I lost a lot of my photos during that summer when I foolishly restored my phone with backing it up. But as you can see from the few photos I still have, it’s a beautiful place. It should be visited if at all possible. 

Christian Kinnersley
Hallway in the Palace

One of the apartments
Christian Kinnersley
The Chapel