A stretch of grounds where crème Chantilly is incorrectly credited to have been invented, Château de Chantilly, though not as popular, has as much history as the imposing Versailles. Located in the north of Paris, the château is home to three Raphael paintings (the only other place known in France to have the others is the Louvre), a 186 meter long stable and perfectly manicured gardens.
The estate has been associated with the Montmorency family since 1484, when Anne de Montmorency – a french soldier and diplomat, carried out the renovation work on the property. It has then been passed down from generations to generations until it was bequeath to the Institute of France in 1886.
The impressive gate, lined up with hunting dogs statues, feels like it came straight out of a fairy tale story. The only thing that’s missing is the carriage and Cinderella in a ball gown.
One of the most beautiful libraries in the world, Library of Duke d’Aumale, with its wrought iron railing, makes an interesting contrast to the delicate gilded ceiling. This particular part of the estate features over 30,000 books and manuscripts.
The opulent crown molding and huge sparkling chandeliers makes the apartments a site to behold. I especially liked the golden candelabras which reminds me of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.
One of the interesting things about the design of the palaces in this century is that they did not have hallways. This means that to get into your bedroom, you would have to pass through other rooms including other people’s bedrooms! Talk about no privacy!
Don’t forget to look up! The craftsmanship that comes into play when making these remarkable ceiling paintings and sculptures is remarkable! If I remember correctly, the one pictured above is from the ceiling of Musée Condé inside the château.
Speaking of Musée Condé, here’s a gratuitous photo of my sister and I in the space. The paintings fill the room to the brim! Apparently, when the estate was bequeath to the Institute of France, one condition was that the artworks never leave the castle. This specific art collection consists of various French and Italian paintings with over 15,000 pieces including paintings and sculptures! It has the second largest collection of antique paintings after the Louvre.
When you’re finished admiring the ceiling, look down too. Chantilly is full of beautiful mosaic tile floors. The design almost has Turkish influence.
The bright pink portrait room showcases various people who have lived or have been associated with the palace.
The palace also houses the chapel of the Hearts of the Princes of Condé. This French royal line died out in the 19th century. While the heirs’ remains are buried somewhere else, their hearts are stored in an urn located in a circular room inside the chapel.
While stained glass windows in various churches in France each have their own unique characteristics, these windows in one of the château’s rooms is unparalleled. Though not possessing multiple colored glass and instead opting for a golden sepia tone, it’s uniqueness stems from the fact that it tells the myth of Psyche in contrast to the normal religious scenes.
While we did not get to walk around the whole castle grounds because it started drizzling, we did get to see this small river which reminded me of the scene from Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy first saw Mr. Wickham with Elizabeth Bennet, and he coolly rides away.
Less crowded than both the Louvre and Versailles, the château is a wonderful time machine bringing you through a fairy tale journey of France’s history. It’s a great day trip idea from Paris, if you have the time!
(A fun fact to end the post: The maître d’hôtel, François Vatel, according to a letter by Madame de Sévigné, killed himself by running through a sword because the fish was served late during a dinner with Louis XIV. Crazy!)