Who was Claude-François Denecourt?

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Blue marker on a Denecourt-Colinet trail

In this blog, when writing about my hikes in the Fontainebleau Forest, the name Denecourt crops up frequently. But who was Denecourt?

Claude-François Denecourt (1788-1875) was a geographer and a veteran of Napoleon’s army who was named caretaker of a barracks in Fontainebleau in 1832 before being dismissed for his republican ideas. He subsequently devoted his time to the exploration of the forest and began publishing guides to its sights for tourists in 1839. From 1842 on, he began to mark out, in blue, a series of trails, giving names to remarkable rock formations, trees and viewpoints.

His original eleven “blue” trails still exist today. Others have been added to them over time and they are collectively known as  the Denecourt-Colinet trails, Charles Colinet having continued Dencourt’s work after his death

The Fontainebleau Forest today has over 500 km of marked hiking paths that make the most of its very particular terrain. And it’s just ten minutes from where I live!

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