Fontainebleau, together with the neighbouring commune of Avon and
three other smaller communes, forms an urban area with around 36,500 inhabitants and this
urban area is a satellite city of Paris.
Fontainebleau is renowned for its large and scenic Forest of Fontainebleau, which is a
favourite weekend getaway for the people of Paris, as well as for the historical Château de Fontainebleau of the kings of
The people residing in Fontainebleau are known as Bellifontains.
Fontainebleau was temporarily renamed Fontaine-la-Montagne during the French Revolution,
which means Fountain by the Mountain and refers to the series of rocky formations located
in the Forest of Fontainebleau.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Fontainebleau was home to the HQ Allied Forces Central Europe
(AFCENT) before being moved to Brunssum in the Netherlands. This was after President
de Gaulle decided that he no longer needed NATO atomic weapons on French soil as France
had now established its own nuclear arsenal.
Fontainebleau is a popular tourist destination with around 300,000 people visiting the
palace and about 11 million people visiting the famous forest.
Two stations on the Transilien Paris to Lyon suburban rail line serve Fontainebleau.
The closest station to the town centre of Fontainebleau is located at the border between
the commune of Fontainebleau and the commune of Avon, on the Avon side of the border.
The Fontainebleau forest surrounds the city and numerous villages.
The Forest of Fontainebleau covers an impressive area of 25,000 hectares, which is bounded
on the northeast by the River Seine.
It is protected by France's Office National des Forets and is recognised as a national
park in which to conserve its wild plants and trees along with its valuable population of
birds, mammals and butterflies.
It is a former royal hunting park often visited by walkers and horse riders with numerous
hiking trails and footpaths in place, plus it is also very popular destination among
climbers and in particular, the wild Gorges de Franchard is a place where rock-climbers
will often learn a good part of their skills.
The Fontainebleau forest consists mainly of sand and sandstone, but with its hills, deep
gorges and the very old trees, this fantastic landscape offers an ideal place for
And according to legend, Richard The Lionheart gave the Fontainbleau Forest to Robin Hood!