The plan for Day 8 was to explore Fontainebleau- notably the Sunday market and the Chateau.
At the market, Scarlett bought a whole chicken, Hajer some strawberries. Other girls tried rings and straw hats.
Boys bought shoes for the closing ceremony and ate Banana splits at the local café.
We then headed off to the Chateau – which is actually a Palace and not a castle. Our tour guide, for the visit of the Chateau, Marie Claire, explained: “A Castle is used to protect its owners against enemies. A Palace is to show off. The Chateau used to be a castle and became a Palace under Francois I in the 16th century. ”
The Chateau was the favourite residence and hunting lodge of the Kings of France because of the abundant game and many fresh water springs in the surrounding forest. It is also the birthplace of the Renaissance in France.
Indeed, the influence of the renaissance is seen everywhere in the Chateau:
- Symmetry in architecture
- Paintings and sculptures featuring human bodies.
- Symbols to the glory of Francois I are also everywhere.
- Salamander: The official emblem of Francois I. The salamander has the ability to live in fire without being consumed and to extinguish flames with the coldness of their bodies.
- Elephant: Also used by Francois I to represent his power, intelligence and his knowledge of foreign countries.
(What we like most though was the intertwined H and C monogram in the ballroom. The H stands for the King Henry II and the C for his wife Catherine de Medici. However, it reads like a a double D – monogram for the King’s mistress Diane de Poitier or for Diane, the Hunting goddess. We will never know…)
The visit was also an opportunity for us to enrich our Italian and French vocabulary.
We learned about:
- Stucco: a mix of plaster and marble powder used to make sculptures lighter
- Fresco: a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly-laid, or wet lime plaster.
- Trompe l’oeil: “deceive the eye” is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions.
Last but not least, we address a big thank to HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed AlNahyan, the president of the UAE, for financing the restauration of the Imperial Theatre that we had the privilege to visit.
After our visit, we had a picnic in the gardens of the Chateau where Scarlett was finally able to eat her chicken.