Less palace. More boulder.

We drove to Fontainebleau, but not for the famous royal palace. We did check it out since we were in the vicinity, but as you’ll see I’m not a fan.

We walked the length and breadth and depth of the gardens, perhaps searching for our missing feng shui. I found the grounds to be unimaginative and it reminded me of retirement home landscaping. Or perhaps one of those expensive timeshares. A humongous, rectangular pond, stiffly centered amongst small trees and bushes trimmed to the same blobby size and shape. Insipid little flower beds of all the same variety lining the edges of painfully long walkways to nowhere, with large patches of golf course-like grass in between. Bleh.

Sterile. Anal. Boring.

I didn’t even take photos.

Oh– except for one. Someone had a sense of humor when they designed this fountain with the peeing dogs.

As for the interior, it just wasn’t the kind of day to spend gawking at over-the-top furnishings and gold-gone-wild. The weather was wonderful and I had a completely different activity planned.

So we left the palace and headed to the forest.

All around Fontainebleau are the most interesting forests you’ll ever see; they are full of boulders.

I’d never heard of the term “bouldering” before. People come here from all over the world to scale these things – there are thousands of them and no two are alike. The kids absolutely loved climbing them; it was like the biggest playground they’d ever seen.

This sentiment includes Mark.

He climbed around on them like one of the kids, until he found a nice flat rock in the shade. The next thing I knew he was on his back with his hat over his face, taking a siesta.

That’s okay. I can watch the kids and keep them from falling to their deaths. Notice from the photos that there was hardly anyone else around – not the kind of place you see tour buses lined up to visit.

It was easy to find a beautiful, secluded place to enjoy our picnic lunch, but it was hard to keep the kids in one spot for long.

“I like that boulder. That is a nice boulder.”

The kids didn’t want to stop climbing, but there are miles of trails to explore. Some lead to caves, others to waterfalls and look-out points.

It was a magical place and we all loved it. It would take at least a week to explore this forest properly, but we had less than a day. Like I say with a lot of these kinds of adventures, we’ll be back.

The kids will not let me forget about this place.

We managed to get in a bit of hiking amongst the boulders, but after the bouldering, hiking was dull for these kids.

Can’t we get there by boulder? Sagan whined.

As the day drew to a close, we headed south to a town called Semur-en-Auxois where our friends Cindy and Mark have bought a house. We enjoyed dinner and a tour of their home by the river, along with an impromptu “fireworks show.”

Too bad we couldn’t stay longer and see the Lessive des Gueux.


About marlashane

Artist. Explorer. Freethinker. Mother of two children.
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