Chateau de Chantilly is located 45 minutes by train to the north of Paris. Complete with beautiful gardens and the Musée Condé which has the second largest collection of classical art in France. Chantilly is also home to stables with an equestrian museum. There was even a James Bond movie, A View to a Kill, filmed here in 1985. In short, there is a little something for everyone.
History of the Chantilly
The chateau de Chantilly was originally built in 1528 for the Constable Anne de Montmorency, unfortunately this chateau was destroyed during the French Revolution. The chateau that you see today was rebuilt by Henri d’Orleans, duke of Aumale, the 5th son of King Louis-Philippe, between 1875-1881. Henri d’Orleans was a passionate art collector and wrote into his will that the the paintings must never be moved, nor loaned outside of Chantilly. Meaning that the magnificent art collection that you see today is the same Henri d’Orleans enjoyed.
Another highlight of the chateau de Chantilly is the vast gardens to explore. What makes these gardens particularly interesting is there are three different sections the French, the Anglo-Chinese, and the English gardens. The French gardens were designed by Le Nôtre, the famous gardener who designed those of Versailles, in the classic 17th century style. These gardens are landscaped in perfect symmetry, complete with fountains and are quite breathtaking to behold. The Anglo-Chinese gardens were added later in 1773. This part of the gardens is home to the hamlet that inspired Marie-Antoinette’s built at Versailles. The English gardens were born from the philosophy that the landscaping should be used to enhance natural characteristics, rather than bring order to them as in the French gardens. They also draw some of their inspiration from antiquity, so the English gardens of Chantilly also have a temple of Venus and statue of Eros, to give the gardens an romantic airs. If you visit Chantilly on a nice day I encourage you to take a stroll and enjoy the various designs of gardens.
A mini art museum
For art lovers Chantilly is a veritable treasure trove. As mentioned the final owner of the chateau de Chantilly, Henri d’Orleans, was an avid art collector. Not only that, but he also collected rare manuscripts, one famous example being Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry. One detail that makes Chantilly’s collection interesting is the paintings are not necessarily organized, by style, so you have renaissance and realism paintings side by side. When visiting Chantilly you definitely want to leave plenty of time to wander through the hallways filled with art. It can be fun to play a sort of scavenger hunt to find the three works by Raphael, five by Poussin, five by Ingres, and three by Delacroix.
The Grand Stables
The stables and horse shows is an element that makes the chateau de Chantilly unique from many of the other chateaux near to Paris that you can visit. The stables which are a genuine castle for horses is home to not only the stables, but also the Museum of the Horse. This museum is fascinating as it looks at the role horses have played in human civilization since their domestication. The 15 rooms the Museum of the Horse tells this narrative using old manuscripts, equestrian equipment, and works of art. Another part of the stables is the equestrian shows and demonstration. These shows take place every day (except Tuesday when the park is closed) at 2:30pm. The show is about 30 minutes in length and the each show wows the spectator with the beautiful costumes, riding, and storytelling.
More trips outside of Paris