I have done a fair bit of travelling. I have had lots of good days, a few bad days, and a handful of days that I would describe as being literally some of the best days of my life.
One such day was December 23rd, 2013. I woke up early, feeling invigorated and ready to explore. But what was I to do with myself that day?
I eventually decided against the popular day trip to Versailles. I can recall lying in my top bunk and contemplating the idea and then deciding that I just was not in the mood to walk around elbow to elbow with other people all day.
I had heard of a beautiful chateau in Fontainebleau, a small town about 65km south of Paris. I am not ashamed to admit that the only reason I knew this place existed was because I am quite the fan of one Lana Del Rey, and her film clip for the song Born To Die was filmed in this particular chateau.
Getting to Fontainebleau ended up being surprisingly simple. I caught the metro to Gare de Lyon, walked upstairs to a ticket booth, purchased a ‘mobiliser pass’ which was valid for the day, went up an escalator and got on a train to Fontainebleau Avon. Once off the train, there is a little shuttle bus that takes you straight to the chateau. However, it was a rare day without rain, so I opted to walk through the town and find the chateau myself.
I knew the moment that I arrived that it was going to be a wonderful day. I appear to be an extremely extroverted person, but I am naturally far more introverted, and days spent solely in my own company are sought after and cherished. So arriving to this massive, lavish, extraordinary chateau with all of about three other people in sight? That is my idea of heaven.
The entrance to the chateau is preceded by a marvellous stone double staircase that has become visibly weathered with time, and so much more aesthetically pleasing for it.
The place just becomes even more lavish upon entry. It is interesting to note that the throne room in this particular chateau is the only throne room in all of France which still contains all of its original furniture and decor.
As you move through the chateau, each room becomes more enchanting than the last.
When I finally found the corridor that my beloved Lana dramatically walks down in a pure white nightgown at the end of Born To Die, I was just a touch excited.
This may be an understatement.
The best part of the entire day was exiting the chateau and finding myself completely, totally and perfectly alone in some of the most beautiful gardens I had ever seen.
When I think about this day I can not help but smile. I remember being unable to stop smiling then too. It was a trip that was definitely worth skipping Versailles for.
Getting to Fontainebleau: From Gare de Lyon there are regular trains to Fontainebleau Avon
Les Piaules Hostel: Paris hostels have a famously bad reputation – Les Piaules is a rare gem!
Camera: Images captured with an iPhone 4S
Remember: Sometimes crowds are totally justified, but sometimes there are special lesser known alternatives