Château de Chantilly
The castle of Chantilly evokes Chantilly Lace, Chantilly Cream and also for me when I visited the Castle of Chantilly, the song; Chantilly Lace and a Pony-tail, which I couldn’t seem to budge out of my head.
Situated 50kms north of the centre of Paris and a short 25 minute train ride, makes Château de Chantilly a pleasant and easy day trip just outside of Paris.
Surrounded by 115 acres of lush parkland, designed by French landscape architect André Le Nôtre, who was also responsible for his extension of the Tuileries gardens in Paris and the gardens of Château de Versailles, is a vista to be savoured.
The castle, built in 1528 but destroyed during the French Revolution and re-built in 1875 was originally built for the solider, statesman and diplomat; Constable Anne duc de Montmorency.
The French master mason, surveyor and architect of the original Château de Chantilly, Pierre Chambiges’, impressive resumé would turn architects of today green with envy.
Some of his royal projects included; Hôtel de Ville of Paris, Château de Fontainebleau, Palais du Louvre and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Senlis.
But it was the re-construction which was commissioned by Henri Eugène Philippe Louis d’Orléans, duc d’Aumale after inheriting his God-Father’s (Louis VI Henri de Bourbon-Condé, the last Prince of Condè) estate, at the tender age of 8, that we can see today.
He engaged Honore Daumet, the architect who designed the extension of the Palais de Justice in Paris and the first of five architects who completed the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, to design this beauty.
Although Paul Ernest Boniface de Castellane, the marquis of Castellane didn’t have the same respect for the Château and was known to slam the design.
Claiming it was one of the saddest specimens of architecture of his era.
However, I think for a man who ripped off his wealthy wife for 10 million dollars and with hindsight under our belts, we can take his statement with a grain of good French salt.
Without further ado, wipe your feet on the rug and enter the Château de Chantilly.
Let’s not get too excited just yet. That was simply the foyer and staircase.
A portrait of a young Napoleon Bonaparte had me fixated and swooning for quite some time. What a honey, it looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. No wonder the fine sculpture of the woman was clutching her chest, I was too!
Henri Eugène Philippe Louis d’Orléans was the fifth child of the last King of the French; King Louis-Philippe and despite fathering four sons himself. He died childless with no heirs.
His two middle children died not long after birth, his youngest at the age of 18 and his first born died at the age of 20 during a world-wide tour in Sydney Australia.
Upon his own death, at the age of 75 in 1897 Henri Eugène Philippe Louis d’Orléans bequeathed his estate of Chantilly including the castle to the Institute of France, with the understanding and agreement that it would be called Musèe Condè and that it would remain unchanged and the collection is never to be loaned.
Therefore it is only here that you can see his vast collection.
An avid collector of art, sculptures, manuscripts and books. The library, is nothing short of spectacular!
Please click on the images to appreciate this magnificent room.
Henri Eugène Philippe Louis d’Orléans feared he was suffering from ‘bibliomania’.
With 19,000 books on display but a healthy collection of 60,000 rare volumes and manuscripts that make up his collection, you would have to agree with him.
Two floors of timber and metal, in a handsome yet sober and dimly let room is a book lovers dream come true.
It certainly begs the question; would this spectacular room, a place to retreat, relax and devour great novels or fill the mind with the wonders of history be the same if this was an e-book collection!
These photos do not do the enchanting miniature collection justice, but this was one of my favourite rooms in the castle.
Tucked away in glass cabinets, row after row of the tiniest portraits adorned two walls in this room. Completely fascinating.
Although I didn’t take the tour of the private apartment rooms, this section of Château de Chantilly was the jaw dropping show stopper.
The lavish golden rooms, oozing opulence, spilling from the walls and dripping from the crystal chandeliers.
Candelabras, mirror frames, clocks and ornaments sparkling in gold leaf.
Amongst the collection of art, sculpture and volumes of books in the finely decorated rooms of Château de Chantilly, is of course a small display of the famous and delicate hand-made silk bobbin lace that is known as Chantilly Lace.
Château de Chantilly is easily accessible from Paris.
Depending on how much time you have to explore the castle, the gardens and the stables, you could spend anywhere from a half to a full day. You will need to take the train from Paris to Chantilly Gouvieux and then either walk 20 minutes through the forest to the castle, take the bus or an inexpensive taxi.
BELOW ARE STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR A SEAMLESS JOURNEY:
You can either book a train ticket on-line before heading to Paris (you will need to print your voucher and pick up the tickets from a machine at the station) or you can buy a ticket at the ticket office from Paris Gare du Nord on the day.
BUYING A TICKET ON-LINE:
Go to the SNCF website – link in English
On the left side of the page: click on ‘tickets and train status’
Click on ‘reservations’
In the FROM box – Type in Paris and select ‘all stations’ from the drop down box
In the TO box Type in CHANTILLY GOUVIEUX
Select a departure and return date and an approximate time
Select the number of passengers
YOU WILL NOW BE GIVEN time options to choose from, noting the departure and arrival time. The castle does not open until 10am. The train takes 25 minutes and a taxi from the station to the Château 5 minutes
Confirm and pay for your booking, print the voucher because you will need your reference code to put into the ticket machine when you collect your tickets at the station.
GARE DU NORD PARIS STATION TO CHANTILLY GOUVIEUX STATION:
Leave enough time to find the machine to pick up your tickets that you bought on-line or queue to purchase tickets.
You will need to put in the same credit card into the machine that you used to purchase the ticket on-line, for verification only.
Check the monitors for direction Creil. Platform is VOIE in French. The platform number will show on the monitor approximately 15 minutes before the trains departure. ie: Creil Voie 3 = platform number 3 in the direction of Creil.
Ensure that you validate your ticket before getting on the train, otherwise you risk a fine. You will see a machine on the platform which will punch the ticket.
Seats are not reserved, therefore you can sit where ever you wish.
CHANTILLY GOUVIEUX STATION TO CHANTILLY CASTLE BY BUS:
You will alight the train on the centre platform. Go down the stairs, turn left and up another flight of stairs to reach the street.
With your back facing the station, turn left and you will see a narrow pathway to the bus station 50 metres.
Take the free bus for the Chateau (note the red machine, this is where you validate your tickets for returning to Paris)
CHANTILLY GOUVIEUX STATION TO CHANTILLY CASTLE BY TAXI:
Personally I think the taxi is the easiest, hassle free way to reach the Chateau, a five minute drive to the gates, the rank is out the front of the station and alleviates wasted time waiting for the bus.
You can simply ask Bonjour Monsieur, le Chateau sil vous plait. The taxis are metered and it will cost approximately 8 euros.
Toilets are located to the left of the station between the station and bus terminal
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