Every time I have been to Fontainebleau in the past it has been crowded. Tourists arrive in bus and train loads to enjoy the beautiful forest of Fontainebleau (which has some great bouldering if you happen to be a hot chocolate drinking rock climber) and of course the historic and impressive chateau de Fontainebleau. But not today. Today it was cold, really cold and wet and just generally miserable. Even the local Belifontains (inhabitants of Fontainebleau are called Belifontains), were hiding, many of them in cafes warming up.
While there was still a bit of sunlight, we wondered into the grounds of the chateau. They were empty except for a small handful of couples walking strollers, or small dogs, or both. There was something so magical about the experience. With the light rain, the huge grounds and the chateau looking over us we imagined what it would have been liked to live here when it had been in use. The chateau has 1500 rooms. I cannot even begin to imagine what one would do with 1500 rooms and, as I have seen on a previous tour of the inside, each is more elaborate than the next. If that isn’t enough space for you the grounds are 130 acres.
After our walk through the grounds we decided that a hot chocolate was in order. We had a lot of choices, as one always does in France because on average they are all good. We decided on Le Delice Imperial, a little café/pastry shop right in the center of Fontainebleau founded in 1889. This little café offered a large selection of delicious looking pastries, hot drinks and some classic French bistro food. The decor felt a little like being in a fairy tale. The walls were a bright red with gold accents. Hanging from the ceiling were these relatively large balls of clouds covered in little houses and people. I could see a lot of people staring up at them with the same confused look as I had.
The hot chocolate was nice, and quite different than I was expecting. It was a lot sweeter than you usually get when you order a hot chocolate in France but since we didn’t order any of their pastries the sweetness was fine. What we needed was something to warm us up inside and out and this did the trick.
Verdict: A nice little spot to rest your tired feet after a walk through the châteauxgrounds. Le Delice Imperial, 1 rue Grande, Fontainebleau, France.