If you’re at all the food connoisseur like I am, I imagine the first think you think of when you think of Chantilly is whipped cream, right? Well, I did anyway 😉 After seeing that Chantilly was only a half hour away from Paris by train, my friends and I thought this would be the perfect place to go for a day trip over the weekend. My original idea had been to go and sample whipped cream all day long, but I soon realized that while whipped cream might have been a reason to go all the way there, the true attraction was the Château de Chantilly.
After quite the adventure of figuring out which tickets we needed for the train (somehow we made it much more complicated than it needed to be) and a 30 minute walk through the mist from the train station, we arrived at our destination. Château de Chantilly has been built and rebuilt many times throughout history. Originally built in 1484, the château as it stands right now after being torn down torn down a few times and even destroyed in the French Revolution dates from the 1800’s. Like any historical site in France, this beautiful château has huge amount of history within its walls. The Montmarcy Family were the primary residents during the Renaissance, and the Condé family proceeded them from the mid-1600’s to 1830, after which it was passed down to a handful of people until the Institute de France took hold of it in 1871.
Not only is it a beautiful castle over looking thousands of acres of gardens, but it houses one of the best and largest fine art galleries in all of France after the Louvre, something I did not even know about until we arrived. They have paintings by Raphael and portraits of hundreds of nobles and monarchs of France. Supposedly there were some sketches by Michael Angelo, but I didn’t happen to see those. Although the weather outside was rainy, it was a wonderful day to go as there were only about 30 other people in the entire gallery, so you could spend as much or as little time in front of a piece as you wanted.
There are countless sculptures and paintings dedicated to dogs and animals – I think the residents of the château were big animal people – along with a beautiful library that contains manuscripts that date from the 11th century. It was amazing to be in a room surrounded by so many old things. Ya, I guess that happens a lot when you go to museums, but there was something about all these books and the knowledge that they contained that had an awe-inspiring factor to them.
The gardens were designed by the same guy who designed the ones at the little palace called Versailles. We didn’t get to explore the gardens too much because of the rain, but there are huge stables which are almost bigger than the château themselves. In the summer, they have big horse expos and shows. As we walked away, I said this would be the type of place where I’d want to have my wedding on a sunny summer day 😉
Some more pictures from the afternoon in Chantilly: