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Distance

20.97 mi

Elevation gain

1,316 ft

Technical difficulty

Moderate

Elevation loss

1,316 ft

Max elevation

461 ft

Trailrank

62 4

Min elevation

193 ft

Trail type

Loop

Time

8 hours 49 minutes

Coordinates

4347

Uploaded

June 22, 2019

Recorded

May 2019
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461 ft
193 ft
20.97 mi

Viewed 1751 times, downloaded 31 times

near Barbizon, Île-de-France (France)

This brisk hike takes in a lot of highlights of the Fontainebleau Forest, roughly between Fontainebleau and Barbizon. It includes among others the Gorges de Franchard, the Elephant rock, the Gorges d’Apremont, the Tour Denecourt, the Croix du Calvaire, the park and gardens of Fontainebleau Castle, Mont Aigu, an endless series of particularly shaped sandstone rocks, little fountains and natural ponds, and varied forest types (pine, oak, beech). The hike is largely on forest tracks and trails. The ridges of sandstone hills with peculiar rocks require continuous climbing and descent on uneven trails. Many trails I chose are well signposted with blue arrows and paint dots, part of one of many Denecourt-Colinet trails, named after the guides who developed these trails in the nineteenth century (Colinet being the successor of Denecourt). The sandstone rocks have peculiar shapes like an elephant and a crocodile, and are also used for rock climbing (bouldering). The gardens and courtyards within the Fontainebleau castle grounds are free and open between 9 am and 5 to 7 pm, depending on the season (see https://www.chateaudefontainebleau.fr/Opening-Hours?lang=en). Only in Fontainebleau/Avon and at the start of the Cavalière des Brigands, you will find something to eat or drink.
The hike starts at the free parking at the entrance of the Gorges de Franchard. I started at sunrise, and there was a deer on the Route de l’Ermitage next to the parking. From the parking you walk past the building of the Ermitage and then you follow the blue signs on the Sentier des Gorges de Franchard. The route directly takes you on a sandstone ridge with boulders and pine trees. The winding trail takes you past several viewpoints (although it was a bit misty on my trip) to the viewpoint Point de Vue de Saint-Mégrin. Soon after you descend from the ridge and go north, passing de Butte de Franchard, and the D409 road, towards the Gorges d’Apremont. You follow the ridge on a small trail towards the famous Elephant rock. From here you go east towards the start of the Cavalière des Brigands trail, where there is also a restaurant. The trail takes you up on another sandstone ridge with peculiar boulders. You pass by the Caverne des Brigands, a little cave, and walk on past the Mare aux Biches, a natural pond. You walk through a flatter piece before you get to another hill with another pond, the Mare aux Sangliers. Shortly after, you come across some small sand drifts (the area is also called Désert d’Apremont, and then cross the busy four-lane D607: watch out for fast traffic! On a forest road you to the D142 where there is the Belle Croix at a parking. Here starts another trail through another hilly area with a fountain, a cave and more boulders. At the end of the trail you come to a large grassy area (Cabaret Masson). You cross the D606 and follow other small trails in the Rocher Cassepot area, including viewpoint. After crossing the D116 it is another trail with rocks until you get to the Tour Denecour, a tower with viewpoint. From here you follow fores tracks with viewpoints, fountains and the Sponge Stone towards the Croix du Calvaire. Here, you have a good view across Fontainebleau. You descend to Avon, the town grown together with Fontainebleau, and walk to the castle park. You cross it towards the Canal Grande, and then to the entrance of the castle garden and courtyards (not open early in the morning, and in the evening). You get a good view of the castle before you end up on the square in front of the castle, where there are some bars and restaurants. From here you walk west towards the forest. Along a long and pretty straight forest road through dry forest you get to the start of the trail that takes you up the Mont Aigu, with sandstone rock formations and a view. After descending the hill, you walk west back towards the start, on the way crossing another area with sandstone hills. After crossing the D301 you pass by the natural pond Mare aux Pigeons. From there, it is not far back to the starting point.
Information point

Allée Napoléon

  • Photo of Allée Napoléon
  • Photo of Allée Napoléon
  • Photo of Allée Napoléon
  • Photo of Allée Napoléon
  • Photo of Allée Napoléon
  • Photo of Allée Napoléon
The Allée Napoléon takes you straight from the park entrance towards the castle. There is a source of a stream about halfway.
Information point

Butte de Franchard

  • Photo of Butte de Franchard
  • Photo of Butte de Franchard
  • Photo of Butte de Franchard
The path steeply rises the last few meters to the top of the hill Butte de Franchard
Information point

Cabaret Masson

  • Photo of Cabaret Masson
  • Photo of Cabaret Masson
  • Photo of Cabaret Masson
Grassy plain near the hippodrome and near a parking lot on the D606
Information point

Cavalière des Brigands

  • Photo of Cavalière des Brigands
  • Photo of Cavalière des Brigands
  • Photo of Cavalière des Brigands
  • Photo of Cavalière des Brigands
  • Photo of Cavalière des Brigands
  • Photo of Cavalière des Brigands
Trail across a sandstone ridge with lots of peculiar rocks, a cave, and natural ponds. There are wooden steps in places. At the start is a restaurant.
Cave

Caverne des Brigands

  • Photo of Caverne des Brigands
  • Photo of Caverne des Brigands
  • Photo of Caverne des Brigands
  • Photo of Caverne des Brigands
  • Photo of Caverne des Brigands
  • Photo of Caverne des Brigands
Little cave
Castle

Château de Fontainebleau

  • Photo of Château de Fontainebleau
  • Photo of Château de Fontainebleau
  • Photo of Château de Fontainebleau
  • Photo of Château de Fontainebleau
  • Photo of Château de Fontainebleau
Castle. You walk through the courtyards, which are free to enter, and open every day, but not all day. See https://www.chateaudefontainebleau.fr/Opening-Hours?lang=en for more information.The castle itself can also be visited for a fee.
Information point

Cour de la Fontaine

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  • Photo of Cour de la Fontaine
  • Photo of Cour de la Fontaine
  • Photo of Cour de la Fontaine
  • Photo of Cour de la Fontaine
  • Photo of Cour de la Fontaine
Courtyard bordering on the Étang des Carpres, a little lake with carps
Information point

Cour du Cheval Blanc

  • Photo of Cour du Cheval Blanc
  • Photo of Cour du Cheval Blanc
  • Photo of Cour du Cheval Blanc
  • Photo of Cour du Cheval Blanc
  • Photo of Cour du Cheval Blanc
  • Photo of Cour du Cheval Blanc
Front courtyard of the castle.
Information point

Croix du Calvaire

  • Photo of Croix du Calvaire
  • Photo of Croix du Calvaire
  • Photo of Croix du Calvaire
  • Photo of Croix du Calvaire
  • Photo of Croix du Calvaire
  • Photo of Croix du Calvaire
Large cross at a viewpoint across Fontainebleau. From here you descend to the town.
Information point

D409

  • Photo of D409
  • Photo of D409
  • Photo of D409
  • Photo of D409
  • Photo of D409
  • Photo of D409
Road crossing at a bifurcation.
Information point

D607 - dangerous crossing

  • Photo of D607 - dangerous crossing
  • Photo of D607 - dangerous crossing
  • Photo of D607 - dangerous crossing
Here you have to cross a four-lane road where traffic is either approaching a roundabout, or accelerating from it. You have to cross all four lanes at once.
Information point

Désert

  • Photo of Désert
  • Photo of Désert
  • Photo of Désert
  • Photo of Désert
  • Photo of Désert
  • Photo of Désert
Small sand drifts in a dry area called Désert d'Apremont.
Information point

Entrance Gardens of Fontainebleau Palace

  • Photo of Entrance Gardens of Fontainebleau Palace
  • Photo of Entrance Gardens of Fontainebleau Palace
  • Photo of Entrance Gardens of Fontainebleau Palace
  • Photo of Entrance Gardens of Fontainebleau Palace
  • Photo of Entrance Gardens of Fontainebleau Palace
  • Photo of Entrance Gardens of Fontainebleau Palace
Here you enter the gardens of Fontainebleau Palace. The gardens and courtyards are free to visit every day of the year, but not all day. See https://www.chateaudefontainebleau.fr/Opening-Hours?lang=en for more information.
Information point

Fontaine Dorly

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  • Photo of Fontaine Dorly
  • Photo of Fontaine Dorly
  • Photo of Fontaine Dorly
Source
Information point

Fontaine Désirée

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  • Photo of Fontaine Désirée
  • Photo of Fontaine Désirée
Source. With viewpoint.
Information point

Fontaine Isabelle

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  • Photo of Fontaine Isabelle
  • Photo of Fontaine Isabelle
Source
Information point

Fontaine Maria

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  • Photo of Fontaine Maria
  • Photo of Fontaine Maria
  • Photo of Fontaine Maria
  • Photo of Fontaine Maria
Source
Cave

Grotte aux Cristaux

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  • Photo of Grotte aux Cristaux
Cave with gates in front of it
Lake

Le Grand Canal

  • Photo of Le Grand Canal
  • Photo of Le Grand Canal
  • Photo of Le Grand Canal
  • Photo of Le Grand Canal
  • Photo of Le Grand Canal
  • Photo of Le Grand Canal
Long and straight canal in the center of the Fontainebleau castle park
Summit

Le Mont Aigu

  • Photo of Le Mont Aigu
  • Photo of Le Mont Aigu
  • Photo of Le Mont Aigu
  • Photo of Le Mont Aigu
  • Photo of Le Mont Aigu
  • Photo of Le Mont Aigu
Hill with viewpoint and peculiar sandstone rocks
Information point

Maison Forestière de Franchard

  • Photo of Maison Forestière de Franchard
  • Photo of Maison Forestière de Franchard
  • Photo of Maison Forestière de Franchard
  • Photo of Maison Forestière de Franchard
  • Photo of Maison Forestière de Franchard
  • Photo of Maison Forestière de Franchard
Building at the start of the Gorges de Franchard. Also called the Ermitage.
Lake

Mare aux Biches

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  • Photo of Mare aux Biches
  • Photo of Mare aux Biches
  • Photo of Mare aux Biches
  • Photo of Mare aux Biches
  • Photo of Mare aux Biches
Natural pond
Lake

Mare aux Pigeons

  • Photo of Mare aux Pigeons
  • Photo of Mare aux Pigeons
  • Photo of Mare aux Pigeons
  • Photo of Mare aux Pigeons
  • Photo of Mare aux Pigeons
  • Photo of Mare aux Pigeons
Natural pond
Lake

Mare aux Sangliers

  • Photo of Mare aux Sangliers
  • Photo of Mare aux Sangliers
  • Photo of Mare aux Sangliers
  • Photo of Mare aux Sangliers
  • Photo of Mare aux Sangliers
  • Photo of Mare aux Sangliers
Natural pond
Panorama

Point de Vue de Saint-Mégrin

  • Photo of Point de Vue de Saint-Mégrin
  • Photo of Point de Vue de Saint-Mégrin
  • Photo of Point de Vue de Saint-Mégrin
  • Photo of Point de Vue de Saint-Mégrin
  • Photo of Point de Vue de Saint-Mégrin
  • Photo of Point de Vue de Saint-Mégrin
Viewpoint to the north of Franchard ridge
Panorama

Point de Vue des Gorges d'Apremont

  • Photo of Point de Vue des Gorges d'Apremont
  • Photo of Point de Vue des Gorges d'Apremont
  • Photo of Point de Vue des Gorges d'Apremont
  • Photo of Point de Vue des Gorges d'Apremont
  • Photo of Point de Vue des Gorges d'Apremont
  • Photo of Point de Vue des Gorges d'Apremont
Viewpoint of the Gorges d'Apremont
Information point

Rocher Éponge

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  • Photo of Rocher Éponge
  • Photo of Rocher Éponge
  • Photo of Rocher Éponge
  • Photo of Rocher Éponge
Sponge-like rock
Information point

Route de l'Œuf

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  • Photo of Route de l'Œuf
  • Photo of Route de l'Œuf
Straight sandy road towards the Mont Aigu
Information point

Route des Monts Saints Pères

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  • Photo of Route des Monts Saints Pères
  • Photo of Route des Monts Saints Pères
  • Photo of Route des Monts Saints Pères
  • Photo of Route des Monts Saints Pères
  • Photo of Route des Monts Saints Pères
Forest track between D607 and D142. At the end is an old cobblestone road.
Information point

Sentier Bleu

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  • Photo of Sentier Bleu
  • Photo of Sentier Bleu
  • Photo of Sentier Bleu
  • Photo of Sentier Bleu
  • Photo of Sentier Bleu
Track named Sentier Bleu. There are some natural ponds along this track as well.
Information point

Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 2

  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 2
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 2
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 2
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 2
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 2
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 2
Trail taking you from the Tour Denecourt towards the Croix the Calvaire
Information point

Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 3

  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 3
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 3
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 3
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 3
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 3
Trail taking you from Cabaret Masson through the Rocher Cassepot area
Information point

Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 4

  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 4
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 4
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 4
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 4
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 4
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 4
Trail taking you through the hilly sandstone area between the Belle Croix parking lot and Cabaret Masson
Information point

Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 7

  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 7
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 7
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 7
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 7
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 7
  • Photo of Sentier Denecourt-Colinet 7
Track taking you from the Mont Aigu area towards the Gorges de Franchard
Information point

Sentier des Gorges de Franchard

  • Photo of Sentier des Gorges de Franchard
  • Photo of Sentier des Gorges de Franchard
  • Photo of Sentier des Gorges de Franchard
  • Photo of Sentier des Gorges de Franchard
  • Photo of Sentier des Gorges de Franchard
  • Photo of Sentier des Gorges de Franchard
Track of the Gorges de Franchard
Panorama

Tour Denecourt

  • Photo of Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Tour Denecourt
Stone tower with viewing platform, named after the 19th century guide to the Fontainebleau Forest
Information point

Track to Tour Denecourt

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  • Photo of Track to Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Track to Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Track to Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Track to Tour Denecourt
  • Photo of Track to Tour Denecourt
Track to Tour Denecourt from D116 along a ridge with sandstone rocks
Information point

Trail Apremont

  • Photo of Trail Apremont
  • Photo of Trail Apremont
  • Photo of Trail Apremont
  • Photo of Trail Apremont
  • Photo of Trail Apremont
  • Photo of Trail Apremont
Trail along the Gorges d'Apremont
Panorama

Viewpoint Franchard

  • Photo of Viewpoint Franchard
  • Photo of Viewpoint Franchard
  • Photo of Viewpoint Franchard
  • Photo of Viewpoint Franchard
  • Photo of Viewpoint Franchard
  • Photo of Viewpoint Franchard
Viewpoint at the Gorges de Franchard
Panorama

Viewpoint Rocher Cassepot

  • Photo of Viewpoint Rocher Cassepot
  • Photo of Viewpoint Rocher Cassepot
  • Photo of Viewpoint Rocher Cassepot
  • Photo of Viewpoint Rocher Cassepot
Viewpoint in the Rocher Cassepot area
Information point

Éléphant

  • Photo of Éléphant
  • Photo of Éléphant
  • Photo of Éléphant
  • Photo of Éléphant
  • Photo of Éléphant
  • Photo of Éléphant
Rock resembling an elephant.

1 comment

  • Ravah Jun 6, 2021

    I have followed this trail  View more

    Merci pour ce magnifique circuit

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