Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Ile-de-France: Château de Fontainebleau

Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Ile-de-France: Château de Fontainebleau

Live from France with Oriane Beaufils

Thursday, February 18 at 12:00 p.m.
$8 Members / $15 Non-members
Online via Zoom · In English

Register now

12:00 p.m. (Chicago) • 1:00 p.m. (Miami)  7:00 p.m. (Paris) 

Our series inviting you to visit ten Grands Châteaux live from France continues! Today Russell Kelley explores the history of the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau in the company of its heritage curator Oriane Beaufils.

Unlike his victory at Marignano in 1515, Francis I’s next war in Italy ended in defeat and his capture at the Battle of Pavia in 1525. Upon his release from captivity in Madrid the following year, he resolved to reside in Paris instead of the Loire Valley. Francis built or rebuilt many châteaux in the Île-de-France around Paris, but his favorite was Fontainebleau which, like Chambord, was next to a large forest teeming with game, and had been a royal hunting lodge since the 12th century. Francis pulled down all the medieval buildings except the keep, and began to build a Renaissance palace, starting with the magnificent Galerie François Ier. Ambassadors described the new château as “the new Rome.” The Bourbon kings enlarged the château and lavishly decorated its apartments. After the Revolution, Napoléon Ier refurbished Fontainebleau, installing a throne room. It was at Fontainebleau that he signed his abdication in 1814 before his exile to Elba. Fontainebleau has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

Oriane Beaufils has been Heritage Curator at the Château de Fontainebleau since 2016. 


A board member of the Alliance Française Miami Metro, Russell Kelley is the curator and moderator of the lecture series on the Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Ile-de-France. He is author of The Making of Paris: The Story of How Paris Evolved from a Fishing Village into the World’s Most Beautiful City, to be published by Globe Pequot Press in March 2021. He has lived in France for nearly 30 years and has visited every château featured in this series many times since his first visit to the Loire Valley 50 years ago.

Support and Save! Become an Alliance Française member for as little as $75 a year for a Library and Events membership

This program is presented in partnership with the Alliance Française Miami Metro with communication support from the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA, the French Heritage Society, and WICE - Paris.

Through our Entrée Libre initiative, free admission to this program is offered to students enrolled in French Studies in universities and French schools in Chicago and the Midwest. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.