The Chantilly Castle

Having experienced Lille's braderie in 2010, we decided to escape it this time. Although vintage and antique shopping does hold a particular attraction to us, but the circumstances haven't changed - the kids dislike crowds and shopping. And 2 days of rubbing shoulders (literally!) with millions of people didn't feel appealing to us either as we this week we rented an apartment right in the centre of Braderie. So, we rented an car and drove south to Chantilly.

To call it a castle will not give it enough credit. This is really a land, an estate, an island of peace, serenity, beauty, and... luxury. Nothing I've seen in France so far struck me with such force of its wealth, refinement, confidence, and beauty. Not Versaille, not the Petergoff, not Austrian's Schoenbrun, or any other domain out the dozens I've seen, exhibit such monumental architectural cohesion and leaves such a deep impression. It is imposing and grand without being being overly touristy and fake glamour that inevitably creeps in with it.

The history of the area on the web is sketchy, intertwined with the history of France and in many painful ways is reflective of its history. Although Chantilly estate existed since the mid-Ages, the work on building the estate started in the 15th cc. when it was handed to the house of Montmorecy. Later the estate was inherited by the Great Conde and belonged to the great Prince's family till the Revolution. A huge part of the Chantilly glory belongs to the Duke of Aumale, who inherited the estate from his uncle after the Revolution. Left with no heirs, the Duke of Aumale undertook massive restoration of the property and bequeathed Chantilly to the state of France with a few conditions, namely, public access and daily operation of the property.

A view of the main Chateau

Les Hameaus - a fashion picked up by Marie-Antoinette

The extensive Chantilly Gardens

The Chateau, an inner view

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