“Out and about in Chantilly”

Chantilly, France. May-June 2019. (15 photos)

This is Part 3 of my France 2019 photo series, and also Part 5 of my Europe 2019 photo series.

Recently I spent a month visiting France and Portugal, with a short visit to Singapore for good measure.

To the northeast of Paris is the town of Chantilly. From Gare Nord, the train ride to Chantilly takes about 40 minutes. Its claims to fame include Chantilly lace, Chantilly cream, its horse racing track, its equestrian history and the Château de Chantilly.

“9:55am Monday”

The woman sitting on the rooftop was enjoying the sun in her pyjamas, on her phone and smoking a cigarette. Many places are closed in France on a Monday, so this sight didn’t necessarily seem unusual for a Monday in France.

Surrounded by the Chantilly Forest the Domaine de Chantilly occupies 7,800 hectares. The Domaine is comprised of the château and its Musée Condé, the park and gardens, the Great Stables and the Horse Museum.

“Grandes Ecuries”

Approaching from the town, one encounters a massive grandly decorated building. Commonly mistaken for the château, it is in fact, the great horse stables (Grandes Ecuries). A masterpiece of 18th century architecture, it houses the Musée du Cheval (Horse Museum) with over 200 items and art works dedicated to the equestrian world. The Grandes Ecuries offers equestrian shows throughout the year and demonstrations daily. I stopped in there to confirm the time of the free equestrian demonstration and to buy my entry ticket, then moved on to visit the château.

“The Great Stables”

Looking back at the Grandes Ecuries.

“Château de Chantilly”

The first glimpse of the château is across the lake and it seemed to shine in the morning light.

“Inside the château”

Built in the 1500’s the estate belonged to the House of Montmorency in the 15th to 17th centuries, and the Château de Chantilly was home to the princes of Condé, cousins of the kings of France, from the 17th to the 19th centuries. However the estate’s importance in French culture is due to the work of Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale (1822-1897), fifth son of Queen Marie-Amélie and King Louis-Philippe, the last King of France. Considered as the greatest collector of his time, the Duke of Aumale, assisted by skilled advisors, built up a fabulous collection of precious books, paintings and decorative art objects which now form the Musée Condé, on display exclusively within the château.

“Musée Condé”

The exceptional vast collection includes over 800 masterpieces by artists including Botticelli, Raphaël, Poussin and Delacroix, and a library and archive of over 19,000 works. The collection is considered second only to the Louvre in size and significance.

“The Hall of Honour”

“Far from the maddening crowds”

Maybe because it was a Monday, there weren’t many visitors on the day I was there. The photo above was taken at 12:30pm.


Quite a pleasant contrast to a day jostling the crowds at Versailles.

“Just a stroll in the park”

As expected, the estate gardens are vast and beautiful.

“Lady picking flowers”

On the estate is a hamlet of five small houses built in 1773, which served as the model for Marie-Antoinette’s Hamlet in the Petit Trianon at Versailles. It’s near the restaurants. The food is OK there but the dollop of chantilly cream I got with my dessert must have been the largest I have seen and eaten for many a year. I necessarily took a brisk walk from there back to the Grandes Ecuries to watch the equestrian demonstration.

“Under the dome”

The equestrian demonstration was an insight into the world of dressage. Naturally, it was completely in french.

The horse was nicely presented. It had a beautiful mane, and a pretty face and a pony tail hanging down…

“Planet of the horses”

In the centre of the stable complex is a riding area, flanked by 2 massive statues of horse heads. Housed in the other side of the building is the Living Museum of the Horse.

“A day at Chantilly”

In May and June 2019, I visited France, Portugal and Singapore.

This is Part 5 of this photographic series and Part 3 of the posts about France.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera



65 thoughts on “Chantilly

    • Quite likely, Jude. Particularly since the Living Museum of the Horse was acquired by the Foundation for the Safe-keeping and Development of the Chantilly Domain, presided over by the Aga Khan and the racecourse hosts the Prix du Jockey Club, one of the French racing season’s five Classic Races. Even the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has been run there. More importantly (to me) this racecourse was used as the venue for the racecourse scene in the James Bond film A View to a Kill.

      Yes, I love Paris but it is good to get out into the other parts of France.

    • The stables weren’t fully accessible but I did see several beautiful horses there. That’s always a good experience.

      If I didn’t include a reference to the Big Bopper in this pst, you’d have every right to think I was unwell. 🙂

  1. A horse museum! I’d have never thought of it! And, I wonder, in that riding area with the horse head statues…. don’t they spook the horses? I mean, the head statues?

    • I always look for interesting day trips outside of larger cities. This chateau whilst significant, seemed a bit off the radar so it was perfect for me. There are a couple of other places like that, reserved for any future trip.

  2. J.D. Riso says:

    Wow, how tranquil indeed compared to Versailles. I know it was your clever camera work, but it looks as if you had the place to yourself!

    • Chantilly is a great alternative to Versailles. The interiors of Chantilly are somewhat similar to Versailles, it has a larger art collection and the exterior design is more fairy-tale like than Versailles. It was so pleasant to enjoy the grounds and art collection without hordes of tourists.

  3. Isn’t it extraordinary what the human imagination conjures up? There’s a guy called Dick Strawbridge, with a multi talented wife, who’s busy restoring one of these lovely old chateau and financing it as a venue for weddings. If only I had a grain of talent! But I can admire 🙂 🙂

    • That would be very time and money intensive. When I toured the chateaux in the Loire Valley I was told many needed financial support from the government or tourism. But the various chateaux are so beautiful.

  4. The chateau and its collections look amazing but overwhelming. I’d need a break to look at the horses (and their museum) or hang out in the gardens. Love how you worked in the song references by the way. You weren’t just horsing around, were you?


  5. I’ve always wondered about Chantilly. Paris is the attraction in France, but I keep hearing Chantilly’s name pop up every now and then – and the chateau. The chateau seems to shine from afar, and those works of art do look like collectables like HeyJude said. That dollop of chantilly cream with your dessert must have kept you going for a while 🙂

    • Everyone seems to go to Versailles, but having been to both, Chantilly is a much more pleasant experience and better value for time/money. It has more of a fairy-tale like appearance and the artwork is very impressive.

      It was only natural to have Chantilly cream in Chantilly. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • I’m not into fairy-tales or fairy-tale apperances, but I do like a place that is relatively free of crowds and definitely value for time/money. Makes traveling all the more pleasant. Chantilly cream did sound like an indulgent treat 🙂

    • Yep, and I was seriously hoping she wouldn’t move until I got close enough to take the photo. 🙂
      It was a lovely day trip, quite different to Versailles and the Louvre.

  6. Marvellous shots! The garden looks really beautiful and calm. Your photos remind me of my trip to the Loire Valley. Though I could only see three castles (Amboise, Blois and Chambord), I really like them. They are beautiful and not as crowded as Versailles 🙂

    • Monday is often considered as a second Sunday in France, so you have to be careful and check what’s open or closed. I felt quite fortunate to have the beautiful chateau, its art collection and its grounds almost to myself, or so it felt. Thanks, Julie. Hope you’re having a great weekend.

    • Thank you. I would have loved to walk around a lot more there, particularly through the forest. And I can imagine the chateau would be a beautiful sight in the dawn golden hour.

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