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Château de Chantilly – A 19th century castle with equestrian ties

Kaweesa Abubakr 04/08/2024
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Château de Chantilly

 

Architecture

Consisting of two primary structures, the Petit Chateau and the Grand Chateau, Château de Chantilly stands as a quintessential example of Renaissance architecture, a style that flourished between the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Crafted by architects Jean Bullant and Honore Daumet, the chateau's design seamlessly blends Renaissance and neoclassical elements, boasting intricate facades, soaring towers, and lavish interiors.

Château de Chantilly

 

Grounds

Before stepping into the chateau, you'll be struck by its enchanting grounds with creative gardens designed by some of the best landscape architects in the history of France. The grounds include the following gardens:

Château de Chantilly

 

The Le Notre Garden

Designed by legendary landscape architect Andre Le Notre in the late 17th century for Louis II de Bourbon, the Prince of Condé, the garden is the most impressive part of the grounds. Split in two by the 2.5km Grand Canal, each section has a uniform look with lawns including intricate geometric shapes along with ponds surrounded by grass accessible via paths around their perimeters. Statues, fountains, and parterres are strategically placed to accentuate the elegance of the garden and seal its artistic mastery.

The Anglo-Chinese Garden

Château de Chantilly

 

The Anglo-Chinese Garden was designed in 1773 by architect Jean-François Leroy for Prince Louis-Joseph de Bourbon-Condé. The garden has five rustic houses, Hameau de Chantilly, a folly with lavish interiors. It was popular back then as a resting place after hunting and long walks. Today, it has a restaurant that serves tasty desserts made from Chantilly whipped cream.

The English garden

The English garden is between the chateau and the stables. Designed in the 19th century by Architect Victor Dubois, the garden was added as part of the castle's restoration. Along with its green scenery, the garden has a Greco-Roman structure called the Temple of Venus, a large waterfall designed by Le Notre, and the famous Island of Love, housing a statue of Eros, the god of love.

Château de Chantilly

 

History

Château de Chantilly dates back to the 15th century with the Montmorency family, one of the oldest and most distinguished families in French history. The first construction at the site was a mansion built for Anne de Montmorency between 1528 and 1531.

Louis II de Bourbon (Le Grand Condé) inherited the Chateau from his mother, Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency in 1632 after the death of Henri II de Montmorency. The castle quickly became a symbol of Condé's wealth and influence, as illustrated by the onsite museum.

Château de Chantilly

 

Ownership of the castle was transferred to Henri d'Orléans, the Duke of Aumale by Louis VI Henri De Bourbon-Condé (1756-1830), who had no heir after the execution of his son, the Duke of Enghien in 1804 by Napoléon.

The Chateau is currently owned by the Institut de France.

Musée Condé

Within the walls of Château de Chantilly lies Musée Condé, which is easily one of the highlights of the visit, especially for art enthusiasts. Renowned for housing the most extensive private French art collection and the second-largest collection of antique paintings after the Louvre, the museum offers a captivating journey through European art history, meticulously curated by Henri d'Orleans, the Duke of Aumale.

Château de Chantilly

 

With a vast collection boasting over 2,500 paintings, the museum showcases some of the most iconic artworks in history. Masterpieces from renowned artists such as Raphael, Eugene Delacroix, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres grace its walls.

Notable pieces include The Madonna of Loreto and The Three Graces by Raphael, the portrait of Simonetta Vespucci by Piero di Cosimo, the Virgin of Mercy by Enguerrand Quarton, and the portraits of Le Grand Condé by Jacques Stella, Juste d'Egmont, and David Teniers.

Grandes Écuries (The Great Stables) and Hippodrome de Chantilly

Built between 1719 and 1735, the Great Stables is Europe's largest and best-looking stables. It currently houses an equestrian museum called The Living Museum of the Horse. The 15-room museum celebrates art and ethnology and highlights the bond between men and horses in different eras.

Overlooking the 2500-meter course, the grandstand, crafted by architect Honoré Daumet during the Chateau's reconstruction in 1879, offers impressive views. Each year, during the first week of June, the racecourse hosts the Prix du Jockey Club, the third of France's five Classic Races and a tradition dating back to 1836. The race course also hosts the Prix de Diane Longines, another prestigious annual horse race established in 1843.

Away from all the Paris noise, Château de Chantilly offers visitors a truly liberating escape with its rich history, magnificent architecture, and breathtaking grounds.

 

Place to stay

Auberge du Jeu de Paume

How to get there (from Paris)

Just 50 km from Paris, you can easily get a chauffeured ride from your hotel in Paris, but if you want to be adventurous, here are the other options:

By road: Take motorways A3 and/or A1, exit "Chantilly" or follow D316 and D317 roads

By mainline train: Approximately 25 minutes from Paris Gare du Nord

By Réseau Express Régional (RER) train: Approximately 45 minutes from Chatelet-les-Halles station, line D.


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