What do a castle, horses and whipped cream all have in common? They are all found in Chantilly...just 25 miles northeast of Paris.
A visit to Chantilly - with its fabulous Chateau de Chantilly, the Musee Condé filled with masterpieces second only to the Louvre, the Live Horse Museum and its incredible horse shows, the Chantilly Racecourse, and a taste of the delicious Chantilly Cream - is an refreshing alternative to the ridiculous crowds you might encounter on a visit that other famous chateau near Paris. Don't get me wrong...I love Versailles - the history, the palace, the gardens and the fountains all make Versailles a must see at some point in your life. However, if you have already seen it once or twice and you don't want to deal with the swarms of tourists that descend upon Versailles every summer, consider Chantilly instead.
Although it is only a short half hour trip on either the Paris Metro RER-D or a regional train from Gare du Nord, there is a lot to see and do at Chantilly, so plan for a full day and get an early start. Upon arrival at the station, you an either take a free bus or a taxi (for around 8 euro) to the Chateau.
The estate has a rich history dating back to the 14th century owned by the Condé branch of the House of Bourbon - it was passed down through inheritance from 1386 to 1897. The original chateau was burned to the ground during the French Revolution. The Chateau de Chantilly that is currently standing was built by Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale in the 1870's. When he died in 1897, he bequeathed the property and its contents to the Institut de France, with the condition that the collections remain intact on the property.
Inside the Chateau you will want to visit the apartments - the ceremonial Grand Apartments on the first floor, which are decorated with white and gold rocaille woodworks and valuable eighteenth century furniture, and the Small Apartments or private apartment of the Duke and Duchess of Aumale on the ground floor, which are decorated and furnished according to the tastes of the nineteenth century.
Make sure you visit The Musee Condé
- the collection is considered to be the second most valuable in France, after the Louvre. The painting gallery contains no less than three Raphaels, three Fra Angelicos, four Watteaus, five Nicolas Poussins, five Ingres, and three Delacroix, all of excellent quality. The Library
contains over 1300 manuscripts and 12,500 printed volumes.
After your visit inside the Chateau, stroll through the lush formal gardens featuring extensive grand parterres and water features, designed by André Le Nôtre (of Versaille fame) for the Grand Condé. The park also contains a French landscape garden with a cascade, pavilions, and a rustic village, the Hameau de Chantilly, which inspired the Marie Antoinette's Hameau at Versailles.
Adjacent to the Chateau are the imposing Great Stables
built in 1719 and considered to be the grandest and most beautiful stables in the world. Luckily they were spared during the Revolution.
(if you are not able to view this on your device, click here.)
The Live Horse Musuem puts on various demonstrations and spectacular equestrian shows demonstrating the art of Haut-Ecole training such as the amazing one in the video above (definitely watch it - it is only one minute long). Additionally, on June 15, 2013, the brand new Museum of the Horse will open with 6500 square feet of equine related exhibits.
(those are The Great Stables behind the race track)
Just behind the Grand Stables is the famed Chantilly Racecourse
, where the prestigious Prix du Jockey Club
(called the French Derby) has been run since 1836. This year it will be run on June 15th.
All of these sights will certainly make for a full day at Chantilly - at some point you will need to take a break! On the estate of the Chateau de Chantilly, you will find two restaurants - La Capitainerie
, under the vaults of the former kitchen of the chateau or on the terrace, serving lunch and tea; and Le Hameau
, near the former dairy which is the birthplace of the famous Chantilly Cream, which serves lunch, desserts and snacks. You can definitely taste your share of Chantilly Cream in either place.
If you decide you would rather spend the night in Chantilly, particularly on evenings when they have their renowned fireworks show, a brand new Relais & Chateaux hotel, Auberge du Jeu de Paume Chantilly
has recently opened on the property of the Chantilly estate.
Things to Remember:
The Chateau de Chantilly is open daily from March 30 - September 29, 2013. It is closed on Tuesdays the rest of the year. During January, it is usually closed for part of the month. Be sure to check the days and hours of opening before planning your trip here.
For more information on getting to and from Chantilly, go here.
For more information on ticket prices and events, go here.
For more information on the Equestrian Shows, go here.
For more information on Chantilly Racecourse, go here.
For more information on the town of Chantilly, go here.
I want to thank Anita for organizing this amazing link party!! I have enjoyed reading everyone's posts and have found many lovely new blogs to follow.
Tomorrow I will be continuing our petits voyages
de Paris...to Giverny.
And, in case you missed it, last Friday, we visited Chartres.
Follow me with Bloglovin'