You can watch all the period dramas you like, but Keira Knightley and co can't get close to what it must have really been like at Château de Fontainebleau. This sovereign residence for eight centuries was home to all manner of pomp and circumstance. The walls can't talk, but they can show you what it was like during the heydays of French royalty. Get Priority Entrance and avoid the lines (just like the royals would've done).
Embraced by 130 hectares of pretty parks and gardens, Château de Fontainebleau has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, although the first recorded reference was in a royal charter back in 1137. To visit here is to soak up imperial atmosphere.
You'll be awed by the opulent décor in the sovereign apartments, designed for the Court of Napoleon III. See Marie Antoinette's bed, Napoleon's throne, and François Gérard's 1807 portrait of Empress Josephine in her coronation regalia. Stroll through the galleries in which the court would socialise, gossip and promenade, and visit three decadent chapels and four art museums.
Napoleon himself refurbished the Château after the revolution in 1814 and, in his memoirs, he referred to it as "the true home of Kings." Louis XIII spent a happy childhood here, learning how to hunt, play tennis, and draw. With over 1500 rooms Château de Fontainebleau was - and still is - a magnificent maze of French beauty, history and architecture.
Show your smartphone ticket at the entrance, after the security check.
Tickets for Château de Fontainebleau: Priority Entrance