The Chateau’s highlights for 2023

Exhibitions, tours and festivals : discover the rich cultural programming of the Château de Fontainebleau in 2023.

This year, the Château de Fontainebleau, invites you to come and and live unique experiences, both by enjoying an exceptionnal heritage site which will lead you into an eight-centuries history, and through a rich and diverse cultural programme.

This season will be punctuated with numerous events and proposals combining heritage, history, historical and contemporary works.

On the occasion of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the death of Napoleon III, a new thematic tour will be installed along the self-tour from February, 18th to shed light on this significant period in the history of the château: the Second Empire.

In the spring, the gardens will also be the setting for a contemporary art tour, in partnership with the Museum of Hunting and Nature. The works of about twenty artists, including Christophe Carbonnel, Laurent le Deunff and Françoise Pétrovitch, will come into dialogue, not without humor, in the English Garden.

The year 2023 will continue to be musical, with the pursuit of the artistic residency of conductor Thomas Hengelbrock and his Balthasar Neumann ensembles. In July, the Château will also host a new edition of the American Art Schools Festival.

You will also be able to follow the vast restoration of the Porte Dorée and the accompanying #UnGesteHistorique donation campaign. First royal entrance to the Château built under Fraçois I, it features an exceptional collection of frescoes by the Italian master Primaticcio. This project is part of the ongoing restoration of the Château, which revealed in May 2022 its restored Escalier en Fer-à-cheval.

The Château will once again host the Festival of the History of Art, an event organised in partnership with the National Institute of the History of Art, on June 2nd, 3rd and 4th. This year, Belgium will be in the spotlight, with climate as unifying theme.

Finally, many other events for families and young audiences will punctuate the year with guided tours, workshops and shows. So many opportunities to come to Fontainebleau and (re)discover the fascinating history of its Château!

Highltights in 2023

In March, May, October and December

In 2023, Thomas Hengelbrock, internationally renowned violinist and conductor, and the Baltasar Neumann Orchestra return to the castle as part of their artistic residency. Their musical notes will resonate in the château for an unforgettable moment in March, May, October and December.

The château’s ambition is that the arts should regain the place they occupied throughout its history during the court’s stays, in order to revive its age-old tradition as a hotbed of artistic creation, in a new and contemporary form. Giving free rein to the arts and creativity and bringing them into dialogue with the rich history of Fontainebleau through a varied artistic program is the project behind the three-year residency that the château has entrusted to the German conductor Thomas Hengelbrock and the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble and Choir.

Thomas Hengelbrock is the founder and director of the Balthasar Neumann Choir and Ensemble and one of the most famous conductors of our time. Since 2005, he has worked regularly with orchestras in France – such as the Orchestre National de France and the Orchestre de Paris, and performs regularly at the Opéra de Paris (this season 2021-2022, he conducted C.W. Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, G.F. Händel’s Alcina and C. Gounod’s Faust), as well as at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (where he will conduct C.W. Gluck’s Orphée and Eurydice in 2022-2023). He is also a guest of the most prestigious phalanges (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra) and of the great international stages.

  • March 17, 18 and 19 – Between Night and Morning: Romantic for Choir and Piano
  • May 12 and 13 – Beethoven
  • December 15, 16 and 17 – Christmas at the castle

More information here

Starting in March

On the occasion of the commemoration of the death of Napoleon III, the Château de Fontainebleau will offer a look at this significant period in the château’s history: the Second Empire. Napoleon III and Eugenie chose it as their residence to receive hundreds of guests, who were housed in converted apartments. A new itinerary, guided tours and installations will allow you to take a new look at the « Maison des Siècles ».

Pictures of the palace under Napoleon III

Stereoscopic views were very popular during the Second Empire. They are a set of two identical photographs and allow, thanks to an optical effect, to reconstitute an image in relief. A new itinerary will be proposed in the tour circuit to present the 19th century castle through reproductions of stereoscopic views from the castle’s collections.

This tour will also be an opportunity to discover the changes made during the Second Empire, notably the refurnishing of the Silver Boudoir as it was in 1860 and a new display in the Galerie des Fastes in its Second Empire state.


You will be able to continue your experience with numerous complementary visits and (re) discover the spaces wanted by Napoleon III and Eugenie: the Napoleon III smoking room, the Empress’ museum, the Salon des Laques, the study, the guest apartment and the Imperial Theater.

More information here

From May 13 to September 20

In the spring of 2023, the château will offer, for the first time, a tour dedicated to contemporary sculpture in the jardin Anglais. Conceived in partnership with the Museum of Hunting and Nature and the François Sommer Fundation, this exhibition invites you to take a new look at the garden.

You will discover curiously dressed animals in the English garden of the Château de Fontainebleau. About forty works of art and humor will punctuate the visit of this historic garden designed in the First Empire by Maximilien Joseph Hurtault. A pair of rhinoceroses signed by François-Xavier Lalanne or cheerful monsters from the studio of Françoise Petrovitch will interact with the singular trees of this green heritage. The dwarfs will become giants, the chairs will climb to the sky and the royal willow will be adorned with curlers. These installations, as ephemeral as they are whimsical, some of which were produced for the occasion, will reveal the beauty of the English garden, rediscover its perspectives, but also highlight its fragility.

The eighteen artists participating in this exhibition have been chosen for the singular and personal link they have with nature, which leads them to seek the perfect integration of their works in this theater of greenery, in full complicity with the castle’s gardeners. You are invited to an astonishing art hunt as well as to a discovery or rediscovery of this park which has all the makings of a playground, and which becomes, for the duration of a summer, an astonishing open-air gallery.

For this first edition, the Château de Fontainebleau has chosen to stage a playful, slightly surrealist itinerary, as a nod to Belgium, the guest country of the Festival Art History.

With works byJulien Berthier, Gilles Barbier, Christophe Charbonnel, Carole Chebron, Céline Cléron, Martine Feipel & Jean Béchameil, Jean-François Fourtou, Yochikazu Goulven Le Maître, Elsa Guillaume, Sébastien Jouan, Katarzyna Kot, Gerard Kuijpers, François-Xavier Lalanne, Laurent le Deunff, Présence Pantchounette, Françoise Petrovitch, Philippe Ramette et Philémon Vanorlé (La Société Volatile), with the participation of MonkeyBird.

Exhibition in partnership with the Museum of Hunting and Nature, in the jardin Anglaisof the castle

Jardin Anglais of the château de Fontainebleau | Entrance located at the Cour de la Fontaine
From 14 May to 17 September 2023

Prices: €4 | €16 with the château entrance ticket | €15 pass (unlimited access to the jardin Anglais for the duration of the exhibition)
Every day

More information here.

June 2, 3 and 4

Organized in partnership with the National Institute of Art History, this festival is an annual three-day event that brings together the public around nearly 300 events with free access. The Festival offers conferences, debates, book presentations and round tables, as well as film screenings, concerts, readings, guided tours, and activities for families and children, with the aim of helping visitors discover, deepen and share art and its history.

In 2023, Belgium will be in the spotlight, invited to present its ancient and contemporary artistic production as well as its museum and heritage policy. The unifying theme chosen this year is the climate. Researchers, curators, artists, art world professionals, publishers, students, from France, Belgium and elsewhere, will be there to share their knowledge of the arts with you, to retrace the history of images and objects and to reveal their meanings, to pass on their passion and their profession.

12th edition
Theme: the climate
Guest country: Belgium

Free access
More information here.

July 3 to 29

The American Art Schools of Fontainebleau (EAAF) is a foundation recognized as a public utility which, since 1921, has welcomed young musicians and architects from all over the world to the Château de Fontainebleau in July, in order to transmit French culture and promote the influence of France. Consisting of the famous “American Conservatory”, doubled with a School of Fine Arts (Architecture), the Academy of Art Schools brings together a team of prestigious artists recognized for their artistic and educational talents. As part of their partnership with the Château de Fontainebleau, the American Schools of Art of Fontainebleau, under the artistic direction of cellist Diana Ligeti and architect Anthony Béchu, have made this summer academy a true festival dedicated to excellence, working to professionalize young people, to collaborate on music and architecture, to create and to meet all audiences.

In 2023, the École de Beaux-Arts will celebrate the centenary of its creation. On this occasion, the activities of the architects and the collaborations with the musicians will be the object of particular attention. Twenty concerts on the theme of “united arts”, musical tours and walks, as well as lectures and masterclasses will be scheduled throughout July. The theme of climate change and the contribution of artists to sustainable development will be in the spotlight and will echo the Art History Festival.

More information here.

From October 21, 2023 to February 2024


Beginning in the fall of 2023, the château will present more than 250 works, drawings (ink, charcoal, watercolor, gouache), engravings, and albums from the château’s collections, both from the archives and the graphic arts collection. These works, accompanied by two models of the château, will highlight the architecture of the château over the centuries and provide a true portrait of the residence of kings.

As an institution, the Château de Fontainebleau is rarely considered a graphic arts collection, even though it houses more than 3,500 sheets (778 drawings and 2,754 prints, including 920 Napoleonic ones). And yet… the essentials are there. The collection consists not only of the palatial collection of prints, sent from the early 19th century to decorate the apartments and corridors, but also of the collection made up of acquisitions made to enrich the “historical museum,” which has been added to continuously since the mid-20th century. 

Fontainebleau, through the plates devoted to it in Jacques I Androuet du Cerceau’s Plus excellents Bastiments de France in 1579, appears as an extension of the sovereign and a new place where the royal figure crystallizes. From then on, the notion of a portrait of a royal residence appeared, echoing literary descriptions such as that of Father Dan in 1642 to tourist guides from the 1840s to the present day, via the illustrated monographs of Antoine-Laurent Castellan in 1840 or Rodolphe Pfnor in 1863, of which the château possesses the original drawings.  

The exhibition will highlight the importance of drawing, its conventions and the uses of the documents produced (management of the palace, cadastral delimitation, transformation or restoration projects, souvenirs, illustrations, etc.). 

The views of Fontainebleau, by means of engraving, were disseminated by the greatest artists such as Israël Silvestre or Adam Pérelle, up to the albums of Jacques Rigaud in the 18th century, before lithography took over and gradually gave way to photography. 

The representations of the castle show the desire to portray it in all its extent and to draw attention to its architectural curiosities, but also to emphasize the originality of its decorations or the richness of its gardens and fountains. Fontainebleau became a creative center and a reference for artists in the 19th century. Architects, painters, draughtsmen and sculptors, including Delacroix, focused on the motif. But beyond the study, the castle became the subject of actors, serving as a stage for the great events of the French monarchy or of the First and Second Empires, from the baptism of Louis XIII, the ceremonies of the Order of the Holy Spirit, the abdication of Napoleon I, the receptions of the princesses… Without forgetting the hunting, the fireworks and the theater, of which several drawings preserve the memory

Conceived as a “walk” through the multiple facets of the castle, articulated around the courtyards and gardens, but also the great decorations, some of which have disappeared, the exhibition includes two models of the estate allowing the restitution of buildings that have disappeared or been transformed. It will end with an evocation of the diffusion of the image of the castle in the second half of the 19th century, notably through photography, at the time of the development of tourism

Exhibition in the Salle de la Belle Cheminée, accessible with the château’s entrance ticket, and coupled with an anthology of 25 drawings in the Petits Appartements de Napoléon I in guided tour. Curator: Vincent Cochet, chief curator of the Château de Fontainebleau. Every day except Tuesday.

The Château de Fontainebleau is launching an appeal for donations to restore the Porte Dorée, the first royal entrance to the château built under François I, with the support of the Fondation du patrimoine.




Following the success of the #UnGesteHistorique campaign for the restoration of Escalier en Fer-à-cheval, carried out with the support of the Fondation du patrimoine, the Château de Fontainebleau is launching a new appeal for donations in order to raise the €100,000 needed to restore the Porte Dorée and its remarkable frescoes, for which the total cost of the work is estimated at €650,000.

Thanks to the support of the Fondation du Patrimoine and its sponsor Gecina, €300,000 has already been raised.


The goal of the donation drive, organized in partnership with the Fondation du patrimoine, is to raise €100,000. All donations, tax-free, can be made at the following address:

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The chateau

The chateau is open every day except Tuesday, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.

From October to March: 9.30 am to 5 pm (last access at 4.15 pm).

From April to September: 9.30 am to 6 pm (last access at 5.15 pm).

The park and gardens are open, under the usual conditions, free of charge.

The restaurant is open every day for lunch.

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