The Château de Chantilly is one of the finest jewels in the crown of France’s cultural heritage. It is the work of a man with an extraordinary destiny: Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale, son of the last King of France, Louis-Philippe. 

This historic French château located in the town of Chantilly, Oise, about 50 kilometres north of Paris. The site comprises two attached buildings: the Petit Château built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency and the Grand Château, which was destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s.

The Château survived down through the centuries and remains as it was when the Duke of Aumale gave it as a gift it to the Institut de France in 1886, making it the perfect place to take a journey back in time to the heart of a princely residence. In tribute to his illustrious predecessors, the Princes of Condé, the Duke of Aumale called the series of rooms housing his collection the “Condé Museum”.

This prince, who is considered to be the greatest collector of his time, made Chantilly the showcase for his countless masterpieces and precious manuscripts. Just wait until we enter!

Located on the 1st floor of the Château, the large suites were used as reception rooms by the Princes of Bourbon-Condé. They are a wonderful example of the ceremonial decors in fashion in the 18th century and provide a broad variety of decorative arts, furniture and Old Master paintings. These areas, which were severely looted during the Revolution, were reconfigured in the 19th century by the Duke of Aumale, who collected, acquired and inherited precious furniture and decorative arts from the royal family and the royal châteaux with which he recreated the grandeur and opulence of the time of the Princes of Condé.

The Duke of Aumale designed the art galleries as a showcase for his exceptional collections. He put together the second largest collection of antique paintings in France, after the Louvre Museum. In keeping with the Duke of Aumale’s wishes, the layout of the paintings remains unchanged since the 19th century, providing a unique possibility to travel back in time and discover the typical museography of the time.

The Château de Chantilly houses one of the most extensive libraries France. The treasures accumulated by the various owners of Chantilly were added to and enhanced with passion by the Duke of Aumale, who was the greatest bibliophile of his time. The reading room designed by architect Honoré Daumet at the end of the 19th century forms a showcase for the manuscripts of the princes of Condé and the Duke of Aumale’s treasures.

The art gallery of Chantilly is one of the largest in France. Wandering around I have found some pretty interesting masterpieces that I haven’t expect to be them here:

Then the other halls with more notable people and more collections of noble art. The most shocking to me was the Raphael’s Three Graces. It is the sie of my hand. -.- The painting displays the three Graces, figures from Greek mythology, thought to represent beauty, creativity, and fertility. Raphael paints the three women in the nude (believed to be the artist’s first depiction of the nude female form in both front and back views, lightly embracing each other).

The family was strongly affiliated with the collections of antiquity. I was pretty impressed to see the artefacts from pre-historian times, and ancient Greece and Rome.

Around the castle there is a magnificent park which also contains a French landscape garden with a cascade, pavilions, and a rustic ersatz village, the Hameau de Chantilly. The latter inspired the Hameau de la reine of Marie Antoinette in the Gardens of Versailles.

In the 17th century cook Franàcois Vatel, who served right in the kitchens of that castle, found himself in full emergency: he had organized a banquet, which should have lasted three days, for the owner of the house, the Duke of Condè, and his cousin Louis XIV, but one ingredient became a problem: the fish was not coming, leaving the cook in a big problem. Result: he killed himself.

Before he died, invented this gorgeous chantilly cream, mixing the little cream available at that time with aromas, creating something new by accident and … arousing the enthusiasm of the guests! So the cream chantilly happened! We had to try it too. On a hot summer day, we combined it with local strawberries and cidre. 🙂

And it was perfect!


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