The 18th Century

The “old” Fontainebleau house was subject to several modernising attempts. Various creative (and indeed destructive) projects provide evidence of this desire to bring coherence and harmony to a château that could have become partly neo-classical.

The Louis XV Wing – © Sophie Lloyd
The Great Pavilion - © FMR/Château de Fontainebleau

Housing the Court

The mark left by Louis XIV on Fontainebleau is relatively light, aside from the creation of the Grand Parterre by André Le Nôtre, and several groups of outbuildings and interior improvements.

Under Louis XV, the construction of new housing for the Court involved significant demolition work. Hence a new wing was built, closing the Cour des Princes ; the celebrated Ulysses Gallery (Galerie d’Ulysse) was flattened to be replaced by the Gabriel Wing (Aile de Gabriel) ; and the Pavillon des Poëles was demolished to make way for the Great Pavilion.

A huge number of decorative and structural changes, including the creation of new doorways and windows, allowed better access to and within the apartments. The sovereign apartments were laid out anew, concurrently with the creation of the Escalier du Roi (King’s Staircase) in the former chamber of the Duchess d’Etampes and the Escalier de la Reine (Queen’s Staircase) at the other end.

Under Louis XVI, changes were largely aesthetic, dealing with the interior design of the royal Grands and Petits Appartements (particularly the creation of two boudoirs for Marie Antoinette in 1777 and 1787). In 1785-86, the wing of the Francis I Gallery was extended alongside the garden to create the king’s inner apartment on the upper floor, and smaller new apartments on the ground floor.

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