Ever heard of la crème Chantilly? Well it comes from the same place that houses a magnificent place called Le Château de Chantilly which is a castle in…obviously, Chantilly. For those curious, the cream is like whipped cream except it has vanilla and sugar added for extra goodness and is placed on top of desserts. But more importantly, the castle was the primary attraction I visited today.
It was first built with some relations to the Montmorency family in the 1400s (according to Wikipedia). But it was mostly destroyed after the French Revolution but rebuilt in the late 1800s. So the architecture I saw was a semi-recreation of the castle but in reality incorporated more of the modern style of the 1800s.
The castle is best known for its collection of fine paintings and collection of books. There are so many famous and valuable paintings there it is probably the second finest collection in France after the Louvre. There were many pieces I enjoyed and a lot of nice stained glass.
The library was also packed with books. They all looked in perfect condition so I don’t know if anybody has ever taken them out and translated them since they were restored and neatly organized in the library.
The whole château was beautiful. I had a breath-taking moment the first time I saw it coming over the bend. It comes fully with a moat and draw bridge. The best part of it, well one of the best parts, is the fact that next to it is a huge (I mean huge) stable, and inside museum, for horses.
The stable, les Grands Écuries, was built for horses because the Prince of Condé who was the last owner and who also commissioned the rebuilding of the castle believed he would be reincarnated as a horse in his next life. So he built an extremely lavish stable and has multiple statues of horses, etc. in hopes perhaps he would end up in his stables, which honestly look more like a palatial mansion.
Today the Musée Vivant de Cheval houses 40 live horses that do shows. There is also a racecourse, Hippodrome de Chantilly where real races are still run today.
As the first real touristy exploration I did, I’m going to start rating these things.
My rating: 3.5/5. I liked the château. The building is beautiful and the artwork, even more so. Some of the garden was inspiration for parts of the garden at Versailles, which scores big brownie points. But there was something kind of small and disorganized about the way the wings were structured. The interior definitely didn’t match up to Versailles. But still worth visiting if nothing just to beat the mad crowds that are clogging lines and everything else at Versailles.