As I was largely left to my own devices this Easter weekend, I decided to spend my Saturday visiting the Château de Chantilly, which is just a 25 minute train ride northwest from Paris. So far I have visited six different châteaux in France, yet each one is so beautiful and unique that I never grow tired of seeing them. Château de Chantilly was no exception. It was built between the 14th and 19th centuries and remains largely the way its last owner – the Duke of Aumale, son of King Louis-Philippe – left it when he died in 1897. As a result, its interiors are some of the most beautiful I have seen – plus it is home to one of the largest collections of paintings in France, second only to the Louvre!
I spent a good five hours exploring the château, the grounds, and the nearby museum of the horse (where I got to see a free dressage demonstration with a bunch of French school children, yay!), and it was nice to be able to see everything at my own pace. I think I spent at least 10 minutes in the library alone, which was like a mini version of the library from Beauty and the Beast!
The library was one of the first rooms in the “new” apartments constructed after the originals were destroyed during the French Revolution and, unlike some other châteaux I have seen, they were brimming with furniture and art.
A separate, older wing of the house contained the painting galleries, parts of which look like they were taken straight out of the Louvre.
Then at 2:30 p.m. it was time to check out the dressage demonstration, which was completely fascinating (and I was surprised by how much horse-training related French vocabulary I understood haha!) I haven’t ridden a horse in several years, but after seeing all those beautiful horses – and the skill involved in training them – I would definitely like to try it again soon!
Finally, I spent the rest of my time exploring the château grounds, where I found some more animal life, and even offered several elderly French couples directions (really I did a lot of pointing to the map, but I spoke some French too :P).
All in all it was a lovely day of château exploring, at this point I will have to start traveling farther from Paris if I want to add more châteaux to my sightseeing resume!