Paris 2013: Day 23 — Château de Chantilly


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Château de Chantilly, France.

Thursday, 08/15/13

I woke up at 8am, took a shower, and ate a bowl of cereal.   My DH wakes up an hour later.  Yesterday was a long day and we both could use more sleep.  But that is not going to stop us today.  Today we are going to see some horses at the Château de Chantilly.

Chantilly is the horse-racing capital of France.  The Chateau has its origins in Gallo-Roman times and consists of three large parks and an outstanding horse stable.  To get there, we need to take a 25-minute Grande Ligne train to the northeast.   Why are we visiting this chateau?   I saw an advertisement for it in the Metro and it looked pretty, that’s why.

Getting train tickets to the Chateau took some time.  The ticket booths at Gard de Nord were closed – on a Thursday?  We bit the bullet and used a kiosk with our credit-card-with-a-chip!   It was a hassle to get this card in the states but we are so glad with did!

We make our 11:10am train with 2 minutes to spare.   I pull out my phone and search the web for French holidays.  Sure enough, today celebrates the “Assumption of Mary” and public offices are closed.  OK, that mystery has been solved.

The train ride is nice.   It is a beautiful day – sunny, warm, blue skies, thin white clouds over freshly harvested hay fields — we could not get much luckier for weather.

When we arrive at the train station in Chantilly, we find signs pointing to the Chateau.  We  follow them along with a number of Asian tourists from the train.   I had read in a number of  postings in Tripadvisor that the chateau was about a mile and a half away from the train station.  We could have gotten a taxi, but it is a nice day.   We walk through a tree lined path and open fields next to the racetrack.

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Straight from the train station, we followed the sign to the “Chateau” through this lovely grove of trees…

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…where we saw the Grande Stables over the racetrack…

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…where we hung a left and followed another path through a grove of trees to the Chateau.

We arrive at the Grande Stables in about 20 minutes, around noon.  We purchase tickets for the Chateau, the museum, and the “Spectacular” – a circus-like horse show.  As my DH uses the bathroom, I take a look around the grande stables.

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This horse stable certainly is grand!

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The horses had just been fed so they were not paying any attention to tourists.

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This one stuck its head up for just a second — she is beautiful!

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There were about a dozen horses in this stable. All are used in the up-coming show at 2:30pm. It is hard to get a picture of one from behind the tall wooden gates of their stalls, but this horse stood still for me for a while before getting back to her lunch.

After looking at the horses, we get a snack at the café next to the stables and plan the rest of our day.   It is nearly 1pm and the horse show starts at 2:30pm.  There is not enough time to tour the chateau so we decide to walk around the English garden associated with the estate.

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Before heading off to the Chateau, we grabbed a bite to eat that the cafe next to the stables. This is a quiche and a croissant and an orange soda. It was good and just enough to get us through the afternoon.

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Down the dusty road from the stables is the Chateau.

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We enter the gates to access the gardens.

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The first garden you see is made up of 10 reflection pools/fountains complete with white swans.

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The English Garden is lovely and filled with its own reflection pools.

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A view of the Chateau from the English Garden.

This place is HUGE!   The distance between the stables and the garden is at least a mile!   We make it back to the stables for the show just before they close the doors.   We find seats, the lights go dark, and the show begins in a wonderfully old show ring attached to the stables.  The show is wonderful!  It was about a circus troupe who lost their Big Top and found this little “shed” to rehearse for their big show in Paris – all spoken in French.  Photographs are not allow so you will just have to take my word for it that the horses were magnificent!

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Prior to the show, I took a picture of the one of the horses in training in the “Grande Dome” or “the little shed” as mentioned in the show.  Pretty fancy!

After the show, we return to the Chateau (yes, we walk another mile back to it) and tour the museum.  The Condé Museum’s painting collection makes it the number one museum of ancient paintings (prior to 1850) in France after the Louvre Museum. Comprised of more than a dozen rooms, there are over 800 masterpieces of French, Italian, Flemish, English painting and more.

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The Stag Dining Room. All the tapestries and wooden carvings have a hunting theme.

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The first painting gallery.  Like the other galleries, it is loaded with paintings!

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The next of many more painting galleries. I like the red wall color of this one, don’t you?

We also tour the apartments.

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There are a lot of crystal chandeliers in this house!

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If you were a guest in this house, you would wait here to be received by the whichever Regent was occupying the house at the time. It was designed to impress (and intimidate) the guest with its rich decor.

It is 5:25pm by the time we finish viewing the apartments.    We stop at the restaurant and order the Chantilly Cream with a carafe of cool water.   Both were delicious!

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Chantilly Cream is a light and fluffy pudding with the consistency of whipped cream. It is often used in pastries. But today, we had our Chantilly Cream with berries and little cookies — it tasted very rich and yet very light! The water was nicely chilled.

We decide to take a walk through the other two gardens of the chateau before they closed at 8pm.  Instead, we hop on the little teal train that takes a tour through the two other gardens .   It was a lovely ride and we saw all the major attractions of the estate.   There is no way we could have walked to these places – the distances are just too large.   As I said before, these parks are HUGE and we love trains!

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We just love trains! It really is the best way to get around all these gardens!

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This is the far end of the Grand Canal. This canal is larger than the one at Versailles.

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The Grand Canal is lined with lovely parks.

It was another 2 mile walk back to the train station.   This time we walked through the town of Chantilly – all quiet due to the holiday.    Chantilly appears to be a nice little town with shops and restaurants – all with a white facades.

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Downtown Chantilly, France.

We make the 7pm train with two minutes to spare!    We were back in our apartment around 8pm.

We look through our refrigerator and make a meal of Beef Bourguignon (from the Bon Marche Grand Epicerie), fried potatoes with mushrooms (leftovers from a couple of nights ago), and Ham Tortellini with yellow beans (from the Monoprix).   My DH says that this meal was as good as any meal with would have gotten in a restaurant – I agree!

I put a load of laundry in the washer.   When it was done, I transferred the clothes to the dryer.   Before going to bed, my DH checked his stocks and I finished reading my ebook.   Our only goal for tomorrow is to sleep late.    It is hard to believe that we only have 10 more days in Paris.   Where did the time go?

Quote of the day:  “Three gardens.   Don’t you think that is a bit excessive?” — Anna

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