Fonteblo Forest in Paris


The vast forest area of ​​Fontainebleau (Forêt de Fontainebleau) covers an area of ​​25 thousand hectares, 60 km southeast of Paris. It unites three forest parks, including Commandery, Trois-Pignon and the Fontainebleau forest itself.

Pearl of nature

The territory of the forest is a series of several ridges of sandstone hills with rocky outcrops, crossing it almost parallel from the south-east to the north-west. About 40% of its area is occupied by oak forests and almost the same amount of pine groves. Chestnut, beech and 800 other species of higher plants are also widespread in the forest.

The Fonteblo forest serves as a nesting place for 102 species of birds, the most interesting of which are the whirligig, nightjar, and warbler. Raccoons, ferrets, wild cats, wild boars, deer, badgers and foxes live under the forest cover of mammals. The world of reptiles and amphibians is represented in the same diverse way.

Historical chronicles

Starting from the 11th century. and until the end of the 19th century, the forest of Fonteblo was the hunting grounds of the French royal and imperial families. Later, the forest was largely cultivated: wide alleys were laid and sources of drinking water were improved.

For the aristocrats who came here for entertainment, a hunting lodge was built according to the designs of the architects Primaticcio and Benvenuto Cellini, over time in the 6th century. which became the country palace of Fontainebleau.

From the 16th century on the territory of the forest there were quarries for the development of sandstone, which was used in the construction of many buildings in Paris and its suburbs. Clean sand from the quarries was also used in the production of glass and porcelain. The development of the stone continued for several centuries and was stopped only in 1907.

Architect K-F. Denekur in the 19th century became the author of the most significant project for the improvement of the forest of Fontainebleau. According to the scheme of artificial alleys he proposed, several tourist routes for hiking and horseback riding were laid, connecting its main attractions.

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On the initiative of a number of artists and writers, in 1861 Fonteblo became the world's first protected natural site and at the same time an "artistic reserve" whose picturesque corners became for them a creative workshop in the open air.

During World War II, the Fontebleau forest was a permanent base for the French Resistance. During the punitive operations of the Nazis against the partisans, it was set on fire, which caused colossal damage to the ecosystem of Fonteblo.

Immediately after the end of the war, the forest of Fontainebleau was declared a protected area. Its area has expanded significantly in the 20th and 21st centuries. About 1 hectares belong to the territory controlled by ecologists, where the distribution of plant and animal species unusual for the region is not allowed. About 331 more hectares make up a natural reservation, where any human activity is completely prohibited.

Monuments of nature and history

During the year, up to 13 million tourists come to rest and seek entertainment in the Fonteblo forest. While visiting the Fonteblo forest, they can visit a grove of relict black pines (Pinus nigra), explore a cave discovered in 1771 on the slopes of the Saint-Germain hills, or relax on the banks of the La mare aux Evées system of artificial ponds built in 1833-1842.

The national treasures of France include the Mesolithic rock paintings located here, discovered in the 19th century. The most famous of them is a female figure, who received the name of Magdalena. On the rocks of the forest park there are also later images dating back to the Middle Ages and even engraved in the 19th century, the plots of which relate to the events of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871. A gloomy dolmen has also been preserved since the Stone Age.

The historical and cultural heritage of the Fonteblo forest also includes the Dencar Tower, erected in 1852 and with the financial support of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, the ruins of the Maria Theresa pavilion, the ruins of the monastery and the Franchard chapel. Monumental art is represented by a monument to the artists of the Barbizon School of Millet-Rousseau and a sculpture of the politician Georges Mandel, who died in 1944.

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Numerous excursions along the labyrinth of paths and alleys of the Fonteblo forest with archaeological, ecological, historical themes are a wonderful opportunity to have a great rest with benefits for health and expanding horizons.