The forest of Fontainebleau, formerly called forest of Beer (derived from heather), is an important wooded massif of 25 000 ha, of which 21 600 ha are today administered in state forest. This massif, in the center of which is the city of Fontainebleau, is located in Seine-et-Marne. The national forest proper covers 17 072 ha; It has an altitude varying from 42 m (Seine to Bois-le-Roi) to 144 m (Carrefour du Banc du Roi, 2 km north of Fontainebleau).
It is fragmented and crossed by the A6 motorway (1964), the national 6 and 7, and the line from Paris-Lyon to Marseille-Saint-Charles. Every year, millions of visitors come for a walk (13 million in 20063).
The Fontainebleau forest is famous around the world for having inspired nineteenth-century artists: Impressionist painters and Barbizon school, as well as photographers, writers and poets. It comprises 2,350 ha of biological reserves4, the origin of protection in the form of "artistic reserves" dating back to 1853, some of whose parts have not been cut since 1372.
France is affectionately referred to as "the Hexagon" for its overall shape.French history goes back to the Gauls, a Celtic tribe which inhabited the area circa 300BC until being conquered by Julius Caesar.The Franks were the first tribe to adopt Catholic Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed. France became an independent location in the Treaty of Verdun in (843 AD), which divided up Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into several portions.The French monarchy reached its zenith during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who stood for seventy-two years as the Monarch of all Monarchs. His palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors are a splendid treasure-trove of Baroque art.The French Revolution ended the rule of the monarchy with the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" On July 14th, 1789 angry mobs stormed La Bastille prison and began the Revolution in which Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and thousands of others met the guillotine.One decade after the revolution, Napolean Bonaparte seized control of the Republic and named himself Emperor. His armies conquered most of Europe and his Napoleonic Code became a lasting legal foundation for concepts of personal status and property.During the period of colonization France controlled the largest empire in the world, second only to Britain.France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as one of the nuclear armed nations of the world.Text by Steve Smith.