Fontainebleau. Thanks to its website, discover the forest from another point of view

Since 2007, Gérard Bayle-Labouré has been listing the artistic works produced in the forest of Fontainebleau to discover the massif from a new point of view. Here La Roche qui pleure, in Franchard, notably represented in a painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry in the 18th century ©JVC/RSM77

The family treasure hunt has turned into a treasure hunt. For 15 years, Gérard Bayle-Labouré, a resident of Fontainebleau has been listing photos and works of art that represent the forest of Fontainebleau. Its website, In the forest of Fontainebleau, from yesterday to today lists nearly 1,500 postcards and 600 paintings representing the massif.

“A pretext for the ride”

“It all started with the discovery of a postcard, remembers the one who writes for the Fontainebleau History Review and member of the Friends of the Forest of Fontainebleau association. I went to the field to try to identify the location. He then photographs the site with the same angle of view and records the GPS coordinates. His site was born.

And with 22,000 hectares of this forest, one of the most represented in the world, the playing field is vast. “Initially, I thought that it could be useful for walkers”, confides Gérard Bayle-Labouré, who will then go in search of the works produced. “The forest was in particular the artistic terrain of the Barbizon school, but thousands of paintings represent it, some of which are exhibited in the four corners of the world”, he continues.

The Sphinx of the Druids
The Sphinx of the Druids ©JVC/RSM77

This retired aeronautical engineer then embarked on a census work to find as many works as possible. “At first, it was more of a pretext for a walk, a kind of family treasure hunt,” he smiles. His first geolocation? The crying rock, in Franchard. “It’s one of the most famous sites and one of my favorites.”

Among the works made around this site, he evokes for example the painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, made in the 18the century, the Hunt of Louis XV in the forest of Fontainebleau, representing a deer at bay in the rocks and which is also kept at the Château de Fontainebleau.

“According to a story, told by Paul Domet in his reference book on the forest, legend has it that the water that flowed from the ratchet had miraculous virtues, in particular to heal the eyes,” he explains. Among the other sites particularly represented, it also evokes the Nid de l’Aigle quarry at Mont Ussy. “A fantastic place to discover during a walk and which has greatly inspired artists”, he explains.

A participatory site

During organized walks, in particular with the Friends of the Forest of Fontainebleau association, Gérard Bayle-Labouré invites participants to discover the encounter between the forest and artistic heritage. ” Over time, the landscapes have often evolved,he trees of the time, for example, have disappeared and the game is to try to find the exact place where the work was created”, he explains.

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The last walk took place on Thursday, December 15 through the massif.

But if these meetings are not open to the public, its website, which lists around a hundred visitors a day, is participatory: “Many people contact me to find a place from a postcard or a painting. Museums have also contacted me to try to determine the exact location of a painting. And to conclude: “My site can be the starting point for a walk in the forest and an opportunity to rediscover remarkable sites in the forest of Fontainebleau. »

Information: In the Forest of Fontainebleau, Yesterday and Today (foret-fontainebleau.teria.fr) and to contact the author: [email protected]

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Fontainebleau. Thanks to its website, discover the forest from another point of view


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