Fontainebleau State Park is the original location of the Fontainebleau plantation and sugar mill. The crumbling brick ruins of a sugar mill built in 1829 by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, founder of the nearby town of Mandeville, suggest an interesting history for this site.
The wealthy Marigny developed this area across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans as a sugar plantation until 1852. The plantation income helped support his lavish lifestyle. He named his large land holding Fontainebleau after the beautiful forest near Paris, a favorite recreation area of the French kings.
Though the plantation house is long gone, remnants of the sugar mill can be seen from the visitor center. Exhibits focus both on nature and on the history of the plantation, including the African Americans that used to work at the sugar mill.
The 2,800-acre park is also a great place to relax and have fun. Located on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, you can enjoy a barbecue, watch the sailboats go by, or stretch your legs on the Tammany Trace. Part of the Rails to Trails program, it's a wonderful route for cycling, hiking, and in-line skating. And the park's nature trail is a favorite of nature lovers. Interpretive signs and guides will help you identify many of the common trees and shrubs and some of the more than 400 different bird and animal species that live in and around Fontainebleau.