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INDULGENT ADVENTURES - Travel, adventure and windswept dreams.

Chantilly, an enchanting last night in France.


Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

I wanted the last two nights of my three week European adventure in France to be special. I love France, I am an unabashed francofile. I blame it on the 1/8th french blood in the genetic cocktail that is me. Just like I blame this same blood for my love of fine food and wine. It was ten years since my last visit so I couldn’t leave it to chance…you never know! It was also my birthday, the perfect excuse for one last party, and to splurge a little!

We were flying back from Venice to meet our flight from Paris Charles Du Gaulle to Sydney with Cathay Pacific. Pre trip, days were spent researching the potential options close by. I lost count of the number of Chateaus’ and towns I checked out before finding the perfect one. Chantilly!

Everything a Chateau should be, Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Everything a Chateau should be, Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Chantilly offered a historic Chateau complete with forest and gardens to explore, the Great Stables hosting the Museum of Living Horse with live dressage demonstrations daily, the Musee Conde, with the oldest collection of historic art in France and over 1300 manuscripts including a famous book of hours,- Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, and finally a Relais & Chateau, the Auberge du Jeu de Paume with an excellent restaurant. Heaven for a special last two days in France. In fact two days was not enough really – did I mention Chantilly cream and Chantilly lace and the famous Chantilly racecourse? Isn’t that always the way with a good destination? Always something new to explore.

The Grand Stables, Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

The Grand Stables, Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Chantilly is in Oise, the Picardy region of northern France. Importantly it is 30 km from Charles du Gaulle airport so not far to drive after a late afternoon arrival at the airport, nor to return for a midday flight home.

Chantilly Chateau is located on the river Nonette, a tributary of the Oise River. It is surrounded by Chantilly Forest and the surrounding town has a population of around 11,000. Chantilly and the surrounding country are home to the largest racehorse-training community in France.

Coates of Arms adorn the ceiling least they be forgotten. Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

The House of Montmorency. Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

The Chateau’s history is tied to the House of Montmorency who built the first Chateau in the 15th to 17th centuries. Anne de Montmorency created the first Chateau in 1560, the petit Chateau. Thereafter it was home to the princes of Condé, cousins of the kings of France, from the 17th to the 19th centuries who added the Chateau Nuef from 1876. This now houses the Musée Condé.

Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly, Oise, France.

The Auberge is located at the entry to the town and opposite the great stables. You have just driven past the Chateau and the gardens and you feel like royalty as you arrive at the Auberge and are warmly greeted by the concierge who proceeds to take care of our bags and parking the car while we sort our booking with reception.

It was a very chilly but clear winters day in mid February and the temperature hovered around 1 degree or so. Having a nasty flu and in need of something warm before braving the Great Stables and the Chateau we proceeded to the Auberge’s winter bar and after perusing the menu, knew we had to order the French Coffee. OMG nothing will ever be the same again! I am in raptures just thinking about it. It was the best that can be! From memory I wanted another – and to never leave the hotel.

French Coffee at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly, Oise, France.

French Coffee at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Alas adventure called and we braved the day. It was well worth it. The estate is beautiful. The winter setting is austere yet the colours of the stone and the greens of the river water and the grounds work together to wow. History and present day sit side by side with the racetrack in front of the historic grand stables with its show ring and the age old performance of the horses and horse women at the dressage demonstration.

Dressage Performance at The Grand Stables, Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Dressage Performance at The Grand Stables, Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

The Chateau is big and although the rooms have been furnished and there is art and artefacts everywhere, it feels empty, and although not cold, heated for us present day voyeurs, still, it is cold. We stream through and wonder at what life would have been like.

The Musee de Conde is full of people. People past, staring from vibrant paintings. There is no conformance to todays concept of beauty and yet, it is there, in the expressive eyes, lined face and broken nose. How did that happen? We can only suppose as we check out the weapons and the armour. We only had an afternoon, how difficult it was to leave this world and its relics. How difficult to not know the history of so many faces, mostly unknown. No matter what their life, collectively they have left a legacy.

Nature reclaims its own. Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Nature reclaims its own. Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Late in the day we retired to our stately room to prepare for dinner. We chose dinner at the less formal Le Jardin D’Hiver and enjoyed the winter menu full of mushrooms and hearty game very much. I would definitely return. It was a very appropriate way to celebrate another birthday and an awesome European adventure. France, yet again you have failed to disappoint!

Au revoir mon amor Francais!, Dressage at thé Grand Stables, Château de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

Francais – J’ai toujours espéré te revoir, mon amour!, Dressage at thé Grand Stables, Château de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France.

I was sad to have to come home. I promise it will be less than ten years until I return again!

The Nitty Griti

We hired a car from Charles De Gaulle airport and drove to the small village of Orry la Ville a short 20 minute drive. Here we stayed at the three star Relais d’Aumale and enjoyed a lovely dinner featuring local lamb at their restaurant and drinks by the massive open fire.

Relais d'Aumale, Orry la Ville, Oise, France.

Relais d’Aumale, Orry la Ville, Oise, France.

This Relais was the former hunting lodge of the Duke of Aumale. This was the Duke who rebuilt the Château de Chantilly after the French Revolution. The historic lodge is in a prime location, just 18 km from Charles de Gaulle airport and 45 minutes from Paris. From Euro 105 per night. Our four course dinner was Euro 59 pp.

The Guest Lounge, Relais d'Aumale, Orry la Ville, Oise, France.

The Guest Lounge, Relais d’Aumale, Orry la Ville, Oise, France.

Relais d’Aumale 

Relais d’Aumale

An overnight stop or base to explore Chantilly with a lovely restaurant and lounge with massive fire. Accommodation is in historic old hunting lodge but modern 3.5 star standard guest rooms. The bathroom was clean, functional but dated.

 Ratings: Room 7/10 Location 8/10 Service 8/10 Value for $$ 7/10 

Our last night we spent in Chantilly at the stately Relais and Chateau Auberge de Jeu de Paume. From Euro 230 per night. Our three course dinner at Le Jardin d’Hiver was Euro 55 pp.

Auberge du Jeu de Paume

Auberge du Jeu de Paume

My first choice for a stay in Chantilly. Splurge a little at the start or end of your European Adventure. The Hotel is charming, elegant and worthy of the Chateau. The rooms were beautiful and the facilities faultless. Dining to die for and the French Coffee? Magnific!

A beautiful classic room at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly, Oise, France.

A beautiful classic room at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly, Oise, France.

 Ratings: Room 9/10 Location 10/10 Service 10/10 Value for $$ 9/10 

Chantilly and Orry La Ville can also be accessed by train from Paris.

SNCF


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