Chateau Chantilly - an Architectural and Art Lovers Marvel
by Youliana Veltcheva
February 2, 2020
If you are visiting Paris, but you feel like a change in scenery or yearning to see the famed French countryside with its green pastures, fields of flowers, fairytale farms, watermills and white stone castles, a day trip to the Château de Chantilly will be your best choice.
Extending across 7,800 hectares within one of the largest forests in the vicinity of Paris, the domaine de Chantilly features a splendid chateau and its impressive Musée Condé, a vast park and gardens, Great Stables and a horse museum.
The castle features stylish princely apartments and a museum, Musée Condé, which is made up of an exceptional collection of paintings and a library and archive of over 19,000 works.
There is a stunning view of the artistic Western Garden with its the French flower garden designed by Le Nôtre in the 17th century.
Finally, the 18th century Grandes Ecuries (Great Stables) house the Musée du Cheval (Horse Museum), displaying over 200 items and art works related to the equestrian world. You can enjoy an equestrian show as there are numerous ones at the Grandes Ecuries throughout the year.
The Story of Chantilly
You will learn the amazing history of a man of exceptional destiny: Henry of Orleans
, Duke of Aumale, son of the last king of France, Louis-Philippe. The prince, considered the greatest collector of his time, made Chantilly the jewel of his innumerable collections. He used Chantilly to showcase his incredible manuscripts and artwork. The prince finally bequeathed his collection to the Institut de France
in 1886 on two conditions: one, that the layout of the chateau is left in its current condition, and two, that his artwork never leaves the castle. So, Chantilly nowadays will bedazzle you with its art collection of old paintings, which makes it the second largest after only the famed Louvre
The Collection of Chantilly
The impressive pre-impressionist collection contains predominantly French and Italian Old Master paintings. Some of the more important art work includes paintings by artists such as Botticelli, Raphaël, Poussin, Delacroixthree, and Fra Angelico. The museum boasts a total of 2500 drawings, sculptures, vintage photographs and 1500 manuscripts, among other things. This is an art-lover haven!
The Stain Glass Gallery
But the Château de Chantilly sets itself apart with its 16th century stunning sepia-stained windows, decorated with beautiful golden hues. The gallery of Psyche features a set of 44 stained glass panels dating back to the 16th-century. This incredible medieval glass tells the story of Psyche. According to the legend there was a princess named Psyche from Greek mythology, who was so beautiful that Aphrodite herself got jealous of her. Led by her anger, Aphrodite made Cupid force Psyche to fall in love with a hideous man. However, Cupid could not resist her beauty himself and fell in love with her. He hid her away and concealed his true identity. As he did not want her to find out who he was, he asked her to never look at his face.
However, she was tricked by her jealous sisters to gaze upon the face of her lover, Cupid and thus he had to abandon her. Psyche searched for him all over the world and even ventured into the underworld. Finally, the lovers found each other and lived happily ever after. With this wonderful legend and the colorful rays of sunlight, bouncing off of the church walls, you can’t help but be enthralled by the mystical and magical feel of the castle. The gorgeous stained glass windows radiate with color and light, mesmerizing the visitors.
The Gardens at Chantilly
The Chantilly gardens are designed by renowned French landscape designer, André Le Nôtre
, who also designed the gardens of Versailles
. Take a gentle stroll around to enjoy the sumptuous views, the water features and the plentitude of statues and pristinely manicured hedges of these French Formal Gardens. Also there is a beautiful 18th century Anglo-Chinese garden featuring a model hamlet, styled after that of Marie-Antoinette Versailles' Petit Trianon, and a 19th century English garden.
There are pavilions and plenty of wooded areas where you can feel at peace and connect with nature, escaping technology and modern life’s busy schedules and stress.
Grand Stables at Chantilly
Chantilly is renowned as the horse capital of France because of its impressive Grandes Écuries
(Grand Stables). The stables were built to hold 240 horses and 300 hunting dogs as well as grooms and equipment. Every year Chantilly racecourse welcomes two of the biggest horse races - Prix de Diane Longines and Chantilly Jumping. You might not be interested in horses, but chances are you will be quite impressed with the Musée du Cheval, an 18th-century masterpiece in the civil architecture, housing both artistic and ethnographic horses and classic equestrian show exhibits. How about discovering the Chateau by horseback?
Eateries at Chantilly
The Château houses a splendid restaurant, La Capitainerie
, with its traditional French cuisine, using fresh local produce. Treat yourself to one of its delectable desserts, layered with the local signature whipped cream - Chantilly Crème. There is also a marvelous cafe, Le Hameau
in the gardens, open from 7 March to 15 November 2020.
You also have one more choice of where to eat, Cafe Ecuries
, located at the heart of the Cour des Remises of the Great Stables. It is open all year round and offers set menus to choose from.
Chantilly is the perfect getaway if you want to take a a day trip from Paris, located only 40 miles north of the capital. It is serene, tranquil and peaceful. It will also give you the incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the French culture and history.With fresh air, greenery and calm ambiance, you will be able to relax and truly enjoy your visit. Also, unlike other mainstream attractions of France, the chateau never gets too crowded with tourists. In fact, if you plan your visit on a nice sunny day in the fall you might be surprised to find yourself wandering this elegant place all be yourself. It’s magical!