The Chateau de Chantilly, located about 30 minutes north of Paris, is actually two mansions--the Petit Chateau, which dates from the mid-16th century, and the Grand Chateau, which was destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the mid-19th century. Both structures as well as the grounds and adjacent art museum make a delightful diversion from fast-paced Parisian life.
History of Chantilly
The estate of Chantilly dates back to the mid-16th century and was the ancestral home of the Montmorency family. One of the chateau's most noted owners was Louis, Prince of Conde, who inherited the property from his mother. The estate was deeded to the Insitut de France in 1897, which opened it to the public as a museum.
Chantilly has hosted some illustrious guests over the centuries. Madame de Sevigne wrote some of her famous letters from here. Moliere had one of his plays produced here. Even James Bond visited Chantilly, in the movie "A View to a Kill."
The two buildings, set in a kind of triangle formation surrounded by a lake, have more than four dozen rooms between them. Those open to the public include the Prince apartments, the billiard room, the Captain's court and the Hall of Honor.
The chateau's art gallery, the Conde Museum, contains more than 800 art works and is one of the most extensive art collections in France. Highlights include works by Raphael, Watteau, Botticelli and Fra Angelico. The library of the Petit Chateau, also open to the public, contains more than 12,500 volumes, including a Gutenburg Bible.
The chateau features two public restaurants--La Table du Connetable and Le Jardin D'Hiver. Both make use of the abundance of local produce and game. Le Jardin D'Hiver features outdoor seating during the summer months.
The grounds of the Chateau de Chantilly include formal, parterre gardens; a large stable area; and a 284-acre park. Highlights of the gardens include royal tennis courts, the living horse museum and racetrack, a children's playground and the French-style gardens, originally designed by Le Notre.
Visiting the Chateau de Chantilly
The Chateau de Chantilly is open Wednesday through Sunday from February through December. One admission ticket includes the chateau, the stables and the grounds. Audio tours are available in English for the Conde Museum. In addition, the chateau offers a variety of guided tours in English, including "Masterpieces of the Conde Museum," "The Architecture of the Chateau" and "The Grand Stables."
Staying at the Chateau de Chantilly
The Chateau de Chantilly recently opened its own hotel--the Auberge du Jeu de Paume--so you can fully immerse yourself in the ambiance of Chantilly. Located on the Chantilly grounds, the 92-room luxury hotel features the style and decor of a 18th-century mansion with the modern conveniences of wireless Internet access, flat-screen television sets and air conditioning. Some units feature balconies or terraces overlooking the property. The hotel is served by the estate's two restaurants. Auberge du Jeu de Paume has its own spa, where you can swim in the heated pool, enjoy a Turkish bath or indulge yourself with one of dozens of beauty treatments.
Chantilly also offers a polo grounds and a children's riding club. The area surrounding the Chateau de Chantilly estate features two theme parks--Parc Asterix and Mer de Sable--as well as a championship, 18-hole golf course.
Visiting France with the Barge Connection
A visit to the Chateau de Chantilly makes a great excursion before or after a barge cruise in northern France. Although miles away in ambiance, the estate is just 25 miles from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
The Barge Connection, a California-based travel company that specializes in creating memorable barge vacations, is one of the leading barge cruise companies in the United States. Founded in 1998, our company excels at matching clients with the perfect barge cruise for their budget, interests and lifestyle. We take care of all of the details, even pre or post-cruise excursions like a visit to Chantilly.