Swiss Roadie Trip Day 12 - Besançon to Fontainebleau

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June 21st 2019
Published: June 21st 2019
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Today’s 210 mile drive takes us as far as Fontainebleau. It’s a slight deviation from the optimum route but it’s Friday and Fontainebleau has a parkrun.

Our route is predominantly motorway which is (a) expensive (it costs €60 to drive across France) and (b) dull. Thank goodness for musical theatre. By the time we reach our destination, we all know all the lyrics to Six, but only one of us feels the need to sing along. There’s still time for a rendition of Les Misérables. Singing along is trickier but daughter no 2 performs admirably (although I fear her head is going to explode during One Day More).

We stop at a rest area to use the facilities. The toilet is so high tech it’s like wandering into the USS Enterprise. It’s a far cry from my childhood visits to France when peeing involved putting a foot either side of a stinking hole and hoping you missed your pants.

We reach Fontainebleau in time for a picnic and a wander round the grounds of Fontainebleau château. The huge 1900 room château, residence of many French monarchs, is most known as the palace of Napoléon; it is from here that he abdicated and departed into exile in 1814.

There are armed soldiers on the gates. They let others pass without acknowledgement. But say ‘Bonjour’ to us and when I look round, they’re following. I can’t decide if we’re a security threat or daughter no 2 has pulled.

We’re too late to visit the interior of the château, so have to make do with a visit to the gift shop for a Napoléon fridge magnet (I resist the temptation to buy a solar powered plastic Napoléon whose arm swings in and out of his jacket).

We walk round the lakes and gardens of the château. I’ve read mixed reviews of the grounds. They’re much less formal than many stately homes but I can think of worse places for a parkrun.

The château is surrounded by 280 square km of forest. On the edge of the forest is the village of Bourron-Marlotte where we are staying tonight. It’s a lovely village - so lovely that our hosts are on tenterhooks; tonight they announce the result of France’s most beautiful village and Bourron-Marlotte is in the running.

Then we have supper in the garden and an early night ready for parkrun and the drive back to London in the morning.

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