The Library residency studio is located in the historic 200-year-old Trait d'Union, whose name means "hyphen" or "dash" due to its position of literally connecting two distinguished "Affolantes", or grand mansion-style homes of the 19th Century majestically lining the Seine waterfront from 35 to 65 miles south of Paris.
Le Trait d'Union hides its history in secret passages connecting it to its two sumptuous and imposing neighbors, as it served as a passageway to unite the three family homes in the early 19th Century (all belonging to the same family until only little more than a decade ago).
In the original, still-existent library of the north Affolante, with its grandiose, third story windows directly overlooking the river, were held salons populated by the likes of Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand, Redon, Nadar, Signac and more. Mallarme's own house is right on the other side of the Seine.
In the immediate vicinity of Les Platreries are two small, private chateaus, the nearest called the Chateau de la Madeleine. Next to it is "L’Ermitage" or "Le Moulin de la Madeleine", which is the old mill to harness the natural spring water of the Madeleine that still feeds all of les Platreries. Further along in the forest is the Chateau de Bellefontaine, the 19th century residency of Prince Troubestzkoi, the ambassador of the czar of Russia to Paris, and his descendents, the family Orloff. Le Trait d'Union is located 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from the Fontainebleau-Avon train station, which has regular trains (1-2 per hour, 18 hours a day) to Paris taking about 35 minutes to the Gare de Lyon, just next to the Bastille.
The "village de caractère" Samois-sur-Seine is 1 1/4 miles (2 km) along the riverfront where you can find a bakery, small grocery, a post office and many restaurants and other locales including music events in particular. Itself full of contemporary writers, artists and musicians, Samois-sur-Seine was the final home of manouche guitarist Django Reinhardt.
The ville imperiale de Fontainebleau extends in the opposite direction from Samois and includes the majestic Palace of Fontainebleau and park with canal and forests, a bustling town center as well as many cultural points of interest including notable theatres, galleries, venues and a number of restaurants, cafes, and shops with festivals and cultural events year-round.
Fontainebleau was first recorded as a settlement in the 1100s and served as the location for the royal hunting lodge and grounds beyond the end of the French monarchy and into the 19th Century. In a moving gesture of his abdication, Napoleon bid his farewell to the Imperial Guard of France in Fontainebleau in what became known as "La cour des Adieux" ("the Courtyard of Goodbyes") at the Chateau de Fontainebleau.
Fontainebleau has an anglophone and germanophone presence in part due to the early 20th century military presence and its former role as a NATO command for Allied Forces (1951-1974) as well as for the presence of the international business university INSEAD since 1957, with instruction in English.
The American Conservatory of Fontainebleau was founded in 1921 and still exists to this day. From 1949-1979 it was directed by Madame Boulanger until her death at age 92. An extraordinary composer, conductor and musician herself, Boulanger famously taught many notable composers and musicians including Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Philip Glass, Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland.
Villages of the Fontainebleau Forest
While the town of Fontainebleau is located in the center of the forest, there are a small number of villages that pepper its edges, including Thomery with its historic Chateau de Rosa Bonheur; Bourron-Marlotte, sometime home of Georges Sand, Emile Zola, Paul Cezanne, Magda Tagliaferro and others; Barbizon, the historic center of Realism and Impressionism in France; Fontainebleau's conjoined town of Avon, final home of Katherine Mansfield; Grez-sur-Loing, part-time home of Robert Louis Stevenson; and Moret-sur-Loing, Alfred Sisley's final home.
Click on an image to be redirected to the corresponding village.