Long gone are the days of aristocratic excess in France but the Chateau de Chantilly is a beautiful relic from an era of the idle rich doing what they do best in gorgeous surroundings.
The interiors are exquisite. From the original gilded mouldings and charming hand embroidered fabrics to the soaring ceilings and grand staircases, the beauty of the interiors is only eclipsed by the sheer size of the chateau.
We loved the chateau and it’s a great day trip from Paris, just half-an-hour by train. It’s a great opportunity to see a relatively intact example of pre-20th century aristocratic life owing to the demands written into the estate’s bequeathment to the state that ensure the interiors remain in-situ.
Beautifully embroidered textiles adorn gorgeous chairs throughout the chateau. We fell in love with the sweet motifs depicting children at play, as well as the fabulous fringing that had seen better days. Likewise, the ceilings striking works of art that helped to completely surround the visitors in excessive opulence.
The spirit of the previous owners, the Montmorency family, is very present in the edicts laid upon the estate regarding how it was to be run after their deaths. The enormous collection of over 800 pre-1850 paintings, the largest collection in France aside from the Louvre, is hung as it was when the chateau was used as a residence.
This makes for a boggling experience to think that people lived among such masterpieces, crammed alongside one another on the walls. Although, it does seem a shame to retain this cluttered styling in lieu of a more contemporary spacing between the paintings to give the viewer a chance to appreciate the French, English, Dutch and Italian masters.
The gardens were equally magnificent, divided into two main areas – the French garden and the English Garden. The French was perfectly manicured with the trademark French symmetry interspersed with swans, while the English was a faux-savage wilderness littered with sculptures.
You could imagine the aristocracy whiling away the time, dressed in intricately embroidered garments as they wandered around the wonderful grounds. A little village stood at the edge of the gardens which is said to have inspired Marie Antoinette’s working hamlet at Versailles.
Oh, and don’t forget to try some of the namesake whipped cream from the area. We had ours on a waffle from one of the little stalls outside the chateau but next time we think we’ll try the strawberries and cream in the gardens!