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Labor Day closing?

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Memphis, Tennessee
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Labor Day closing?

We are planning to arrive in Fontainebleau in the afternoon of 30 April and were planning to stay in the area and see the palace on 1 May. I have just learned that this is French Labor Day. Will everything be closed? What about Paris? We intended to turn in our rental car in downtown Paris later that afternoon and check into our vacation flat. Not sure we can squeeze a visit to the palace into the previous day as we are seeing Giverny and driving there to F. We don't want to rush leaving our splurge Chateau accomodation and seeing Giverny. Please advise.

Also, recommendations for simple farmhouse B&B type accommodation out from Fontainebleau would be appreciated.

Paris, France
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1. Re: Labor Day closing?

Not everything will be closed on May 1st and though you'll find many places closed there will surely be someplace open to eat, even if it's takeaway or a boulangerie, though I'm sure you'll find some kind of restaurant open in Fontainebleau. There will still be places open in Paris as well and you can always enjoy a scenic walk through any part of Paris, which doesn't require that anything be open. However, the château of Fontainebleau will be closed on May 1st.

musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/Opening-Hours…

I don't have any personal recommendations of B&B accommodation in Fontainebleau but you can look at the tourist office website for info about that:

fontainebleau-tourisme.com/index.php/en/prep…

Or you can find a B&B (called a chambres d'hôtes in French) on a website such as http://en.gites-de-france.com/

If you want to stay in a farmhouse try http://www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com/en/ (in French only though).

But the gites-de-france website has a section about farmhouse stays (in English). You should know when using this website that Fontainebleau is in a region called Île-de-France, as you'll have to search by region:

…gites-de-france.com/holiday-rentals-On-the-…

Edited: 20 April 2014, 00:50
Memphis, Tennessee
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2. Re: Labor Day closing?

Thanks,Fr Mystique. We may have to adjust our schedule. I will try those sights as recommended. Again, thanks.

Paris, France
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3. Re: Labor Day closing?

I happen to know the area around Fontainebleau very well so if you want advice about places to visit in that area I can make suggestions. I also know the area around Giverny well and in fact I know a great deal about most of the countryside just outside of Paris so feel free to ask if you are so inclined.

Memphis, Tennessee
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4. Re: Labor Day closing?

I will be travelling with my 20 year old daughter who has been studying in London for the term. I will meet her there and we will take the train to Plymouth for a day. Then we will take the overnight ferry to Roscoff and pick up a rental car. We very much want to enjoy the countryside and scenic back roads. We are booked for the Chateau de Bouceel near Mont St. Michel and Giverny is a must, but otherwise we are open to recommendations. We both prefer to avoid the "touristy" spots which is why we chose Fontainebleau rather than Versaille. Did I read there was an artist colony near Fontainebleau? I would very much appreciate your recommendations for places to visit and especially scenic driving routes. Many thanks, French_Mystique!

Memphis, Tennessee
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5. Re: Labor Day closing?

What do you think of visiting the Chateau Vaux le Vicomte instead? The practical information only lists closings 25 Dec and 1 Jan. I understand it is very close to Fontainebleau and is one of the most beautiful chateaux in France.

Happy Easter!

Melanie

Val-de-Marne, France
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6. Re: Labor Day closing?

My husband (and others) will probably be able to add details later but yes, the artists' colony near Fontainebleau is Barbizon if you want to check their tourist office website. And yes, Vaux le Vicomte is a great château to visit if it's open on May 1st (writing from my cell phone and can't check the site right now).

Happy Easter to you too :)

Paris, France
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7. Re: Labor Day closing?

In regards to finding scenic drives I'll give you some tips about that and it will require that you have a Michelin map (look for designated scenic roads) and here is my standard advice about the Michelin maps and some other general info:

Get your hands on the Michelin maps. You want the ones of the scale 1:200,000 (regional maps) or 1:150,000 (departmental maps, more detailed, cover slightly less area) for whatever regions you visit. A nice feature of the 1:150,000 maps is they show the starred attractions in the corresponding Michelin Green guidebooks. The Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historically/touristically interesting things such as châteaux, ruins, churches, abbeys, scenic view points, caves, Roman sites, megaliths, designated scenic roads and many other things. Usually when I'm exploring various regions in France I just look at the map and I am able to plan interesting and scenic drives just reading the map. For instance, I usually look for a designated scenic road, which are highlighted in green, and I especially look for towns with the historic church and/or château icon. With the departmental maps also look for towns/sites/attractions that have been give one or more Michelin stars. I also try to make sure the route goes through as many small villages as possible. Usually putting all these things together I find interesting and scenic drives without even knowing where I am going and with no assistance from a guide book. Often these places are never mentioned in guidebooks and remain completely unknown to many tourists.

You can buy the Michelin maps from their website and here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:200,000 scale maps of France (Regional maps): http://tinyurl.com/4bt96ev

And here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:150,000 scale maps of France (Départementale maps):

http://tinyurl.com/6mt4n64

You could also buy them here but then you can't do research beforehand. The maps can be bought in many places such as bookstores, news stands, magazine stores, larger supermarkets, department stores, hypermarkets and in the full service rest areas on the autoroutes, just to name a few. If you're going to be traveling all over France you may find it easier to buy the Michelin Atlas, which covers all of France.

And speaking of Michelin, you can go to the website viamichelin.com and get info on drive times and distances, toll and fuel costs and suggested routes (i.e. scenic routes). The drive times given do not consider stops (fuel, food, bathrooms) nor do they consider bad weather and bad traffic. I find the drive times very accurate when these factors are accounted for. The time estimates can break down when you are driving in congested urban areas, like in or near Paris, due to the unpredictability of heavy traffic or traffic jams. They can also be affected on peak travel days, specifically on autoroutes leading to/from popular destinations.

Here is some other general advice for you. You can google the tourist office websites for any region, département, city , town or village you may want to visit. You will find loads of info on these websites including hotel/accommodation and restaurant info as well as what to see and do in the area. Occasionally the websites have English versions. In doing a google search enter the words "office de tourisme" followed by the name of your region, département, city, town or village and this will bring that place to the top of your search.

There are actually a few towns near Fontainebleau that were noted for their artists communities and Barbizon is the most famous among them. Nearby is the lovely town of Moret-sur-Loing where Alfred Sisley lived and near to this town are the twin towns of Bourron-Marlotte and also Grez-sur-Loing.

I've written some photo reports about the areas near Fontainebleau and Moret-sur-Loing and you can look at them to see the places I mentioned (as well as other places):

Fontainebleau, Barbizon and other places: http://tinyurl.com/6aksvbd

Moret, Bourron-Marlotte and Grez-sur-Loing: http://tinyurl.com/buhknqs

Vaux-le-Vicomte is a great château with an interesting history and I highly recommend a visit there. You can look at this photo report to learn about what else is near to Vaux: http://tinyurl.com/6cau3rv

If you have any other questions I'll see if I can help.

Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Labor Day closing?

If I had to choose between Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau, I would choose Vaux le Vicomte so if it is open on May 1 and you have a car that is the perfects solution to your dilemma. The grounds are enormous and were the inspiration for Versailles (same landscape architect) and the chateau itself is interesting. The historic tableau on the lower level while in French has enough English signing to be intelligible to an Anglaphone and is well done. We spent a full day there quite happily. You can see our photos in my photo journal under 'Day trips from Paris' -- I think it is titled 'Our last Chateau' -- it is a great chateau experience.

janettravels44

www.janettravels.wordpress.com

Memphis, Tennessee
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9. Re: Labor Day closing?

Thank you FM, Mrs. FM, and JT44. I think there is a bookstore here in Memphis that sells the Michelin maps. If they are the right scale is the question. I may have to rely on the website until I get to London on Saturday where I can surely buy the appropriate maps. My daughter and I can study them during our train and ferry journies. I very much appreciate your taking the time to answer in such helpful detail. I sent an email request to Vaux to confirm that they would indeed be open on 1 May (in case my Google translator is not so accurate), but I have not received a reply - perhaps the Easter Holiday is the culprit. Again, many thanks.

Edited: 23 April 2014, 06:10
Paris, France
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10. Re: Labor Day closing?

As I mentioned earlier, you want the maps of the scale 1:150,000 (1cm = 1.5km) or 1:200,000 (1cm = 2km). You can also buy these maps in Paris in the places I mentioned if you are unable to get them beforehand. Have fun. :)

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