More from Paris! One of the most fun things we did on our trip in August was a day trip to Chateau de Chantilly. Chantilly is about a 20 minute train ride outside Paris from the Gare du Nord, making it so easy and quick you can hardly call it a day trip!
The Domain of Chantilly has a long history; originating as a fortified building in the Middle Ages, the actual chateau itself was built and rebuilt and passed through several noble hands before ending up as the property of the Duke of Aumale (aka, Henri d’Orleans) in 1875. He was the son of the last king of France, and he inherited the Domain of Chantilly at the age of 8 (!). The Duke had the chateau rebuilt to house his art collection, and bequeathed the entirety of it to the Institut de France on the condition that it be opened to the public – and in 1898, it was. Today it houses a giant art collection that rivals that of The Louvre!
Some tips for your visit:
- Wear comfortable and not your best shoes. The grounds were pretty but also pretty swampy and boggy, so if you want to walk around the outside this is not the time for your cutest heels!
- Don’t expect Versailles. A lot of people recommended this as an alternative to Versailles, which it is if you want a MUCH less crowded and much smaller-scale chateau experience, but in terms of grandeur to me this did not rival Versailles. I loved both, I just see them as two totally different things! (PS – my pics from Versailles here!). With Versailles the grounds were much more manicured and absolutely massive, and there were also many other beautiful buildings on the grounds (the Petit Trianon, etc). Chantilly was much more low-key.
- Come hungry! We stopped to eat at the “Restaurant in the Garden” among the thatched cottages in the Anglo-Chinese garden, and the food was surprisingly delicious! I don’t know why I was expecting it to be kind of phoned-in but we had such a great meal. Make SURE you get the strawberries with Chantilly cream! Obviously it’s what they’re known for and omg. It was amazing.
- Tour the chateau. We wound up not having time, plus we had been to a lot of museums at that point so we were kind of museum’d out, but I think it would be worth it to see the inside!