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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Domaine de Chantilly:  Un lieu riche de l’histoire de France (Chantilly: rich in the history of Fran

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Dimanche dernier je suis allée au Domaine de Chantilly, qui est à 35 minutes en train de Paris centrale. Le Domaine remonte au Moyen Age avec plusieurs propriétaires différents, notamment les Bourbon-Condé. Le dernier propriétaire était Henri d’Orleans, duc d’Aumale. Pendant le XIXe siècle, il reconstruit le Grand Château , rasé à la Révolution, sur la base des 7 tours du bâtiment d’origine. Il a le fait pour y installer ses collections exceptionnelles (tableaux, livres et mobilier). À sa mort, il a légué le Domaine de Chantilly et tous ses trésors à l’institut de France. Son testament stipule que son accrochage des tableaux sur plusieurs niveaux, à la manière du XIXe siècle, doit être conservé et qu’aucune œuvre ne peut être prêtée hors de Chantilly. Donc quand on le visite, c’est comme le duc d’Aumale vit encore là-ba.

Last Sunday, I finally visited the Domain (estate) of Chantilly, which is just a 35-minute train ride from central Paris. I'd been intending to go for over 2 weeks, but kept getting waylayed by the beautiful weather....I'd be on my way to the train station, when something (street performers, the combination of warm sunshine and a delightful breeze) would distract me and before I knew it, I'd missed my train. In any event, Sunday I went and I was very glad that I did!

Esplanade from the town leading to Grande Écuries (stables)

Domaine de Chantilly is a spectacular estate that dates from the Middle Ages, with a rich history that reflects in many ways the history of France. Although it has had several owners, the most notable is the family Bourbon-Condé, cousins to the kings of France. The last private owner was Henri d'Orleans, Duke of Aumale, who was a son of King Louis-Philippe (hard not to get caught up in the historical details of these places). In 1875, Henri d'Orleans rebuilt the Grand Chateau, which had been destroyed during the Revolution (1793), to house his extensive and impressive collections of art, rare books and furniture. On his death, he bequeathed the entire estate to the Institute of France (a learned society that manages over 1000 foundations, as well as museums and chateaux open to the public), stipulating that the estate was to be maintained exactly as it was on his death. Hence, a visit to Chantilly is like stepping back in time to late 19th century France and into one of its grandest estates.

Le château described by some (its architectural significance is debated) as "the jewel in the crown" of France's cultural heritage.

Le cabinet (office/study) of the Prince

Candelabra in the Prince's bedroom

My favorite room in the private apartments was the boudoir (sitting room) called La Grande Singerie (monkey) because of the delicate murals painted by Christophe Huet depicting monkeys performing human actions, which fill the walls, doors and ceiling. The decor is reminiscent of the penchant for Asia that was fashionable in the 18th century.

My favorite mural!

Close-up of fireplace screen

I indulged my penchant for chandeliers.

Grand staircase


Love this unfinished watercolor sketch of the gates of the chateau

Rough translation: railing for the door of Chantilly....M Richard (maybe?)

Illuminated manuscript in library

The chateau includes a lovely, small chapel.

Chapel exterior

Ceiling and top of altar



En plus du Château, le Domaine se compose de quatre jardins différents et des Grandes Écuries. Je n’avais assez temps de visiter les jardins mais je les ai vu, notamment le grand parterre à la française, créés par André Le Nôtre, qui a créé aussi les beaux jardins à Versailles, Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte et les Tuileries, mais M Le Nôtre a dit que Chantilly était son préféré.

In addition to the chateau, the estate consists of four different gardens and grand stables. I regret that I didn't have enough time to fully explore the gardens (another day), in particular the French-style garden designed by André Le Nôtre, who created the beautiful gardens at Versailles, Fontainbleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte and the Tuileries, but claimed the garden at Chantilly his favorite.

Stock photo of André Le Nôtre's garden

Les Grandes Écuries, construites du XVIIIe siècle, font figure de véritable palais pour les chevaux. Ils sont les plus grandes écuries de l’Europe. Dédiées à la chasse dans le passé, aujourd’hui les écuries sont consacrés à l’arte de dressage, pour lequel ils sont très bien connus.

The stables, built in the 18th century, are like a veritable palace for horses. They are the largest stables to be found in Europe. Originally dedicated to the hunt, today the stables are focussed on the art of dressage for which they are very well known.

Les Grandes Écuries (the stables)

Courtyard which is the center of the Museum of the Horse and surrounds the courtyard

Warming up for the dressage demonstration

Soldiers recuperating at the chateau during the First World War when it was converted into a hospital....from exhibit being prepared for upcoming Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) this weekend

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