€115 Million Overhaul Planned for Fontainebleau Palace

The Palace of Fontainebleau, 55 kilometers southwest of Paris, has long lived in the shadows of its more modern and famous counterpart: Versailles. But, according to France’s minister of culture, Fleur Pellerin, “Fontainebleau’s time has come.” And she has pledged a €115 million funding package to prove it, the Art Newspaper reports.

The overhaul scheme, which will be implemented over a period of 12 years, is aimed towards the conservation of the palace, a Unesco’s World Heritage site since 1981. It will also seek to improve its facilities to raise the yearly visitor numbers, currently at 500,000, up to 700,000.

The renovation project of the 800-year-old royal and imperial residence will begin with work to improve the security systems across its 1,500 rooms. By 2017, the Oval Courtyard—where King Louis VII’s hunting lodge was erected in the 12th century—will reopen to the public.

In the next coming years, the Fontainebleau art collection, which holds more than 30,000 works from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical periods, will be reorganized and rehung, and an interpretation center will be added.

Further plans down the line include an extension of the Napoleon I Museum, created in 1986 in the right wing of the palace’s Court of Honor, where Napoleon Bonaparte’s private apartments once stood. A replanting the Grand Parterre, Europe’s largest formal garden, is also scheduled.

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