The town of Chantilly is only 40 kilometers north of Paris, the perfect distance for a day trip. I had long wanted to visit one of the fabled châteaux in France and had my chance the morning after arriving in Paris this past June. A pleasant little train ride and here we are ~
After a short stroll through part of town, the stables loom up. Yes, this houses stables!
That's an absolutely beautiful bed of flowers. The French seem to be naturally gifted in this area. I wonder if there's a magazine called Municipal Gardening that comes out with new ideas each month.
The woman jumping a palissade looks unbelievably nonchalant. She must really trust her horse.
I remember your carved wooden horses from London, one in particular by Grinling Gibbons. These are more colorful. How I'd have loved to ride a carousel giraffe or zebra. Maybe I did. Oh well, I can tell myself I did and I'll start to believe it.
Bjd, the words "horse museum" did not initially make my heart leap, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The museum is large and every piece is excellent.
Breeze, I was very taken with that little statue and love the way the woman is lifted from her seat by the horse's leap. I am completely confident that you have indeed ridden exotic carousel animals ~ it's so you.
Mark, yes, yes of course I did. After all, it makes the world go round.
I have somewhere I need to go right now, but will be back later with more, more, more on the beautiful Chantilly house and gardens. In the meantime, here's a little history from Wikipedia ~
The château de Chantilly was built for the House of Montmorency, then was home to the Condés and finally to the Duke of Aumale, fifth son of Louis-Philippe. He willed it to the Institute of France. Le château has two parts: the Petit Château and the Château Neuf. The first was built in 1560 by the architect Jean Bullant for the constable Anne de Montmorency. The interior decoration goes back to the 18th century for the larger apartments ... The smaller apartments redone in the 19th century are on the ground floor. The Château Neuf was built by architect Honoré Daumet between 1876 and 1882 on the site of the portion of the older building destroyed at the beginning of the 19th century. It contains paint galleries, libraries and the chapel. A gallery, built by architecte Félix Duban in the 1840s, links the two buildings. The château is surrounded by a 115-hectare park...
As a person who had long wished to see a French château, I can report that the approach to and closer views of the building delivered delightfully ~
Thanks for this, Bixa. I don't think I would ever bother going to a horse museum and didn't even know this place existed. So I'm glad you went.
I absolutely would never have set foot there if I had not been obliged to go with my brother and sister-in-law. She is both a horse fanatic and an excellent internet researcher, so it was on her list of musts. So we went, and I found it amazing, and this was even before the recent renovation. Except for some of the lighting mistakes that Bixa pointed out, the renovation is really excellent and there were very right to eliminate one thing that was exposed before -- the veterinary rooms showing the old medical equipment and photos of horses in a condition that one would never want to see. I'm pretty sure that they kept all of the stuff -- it might still be there in closed rooms -- because it seemed very important for veterinary students, just not the general public.
We did not even visit the château on that visit, which is a shame, which you will soon see as Bixa continues her report.
Now if you really want to avoid horses, never go to the gigantic horse show every December (now in progress, I think). I was obliged to go there, too -- brother and SIL went two days in a row and they probably would have loved to return a 3rd time if it had been possible. I'll admit that I was not bored -- well, maybe a little -- because it is incredible what people will buy for their beloved horses, but of course it is no match for the kind of horsey crap that they will buy for themselves. I will also admit that the horses were very impressive, the giant ones, the midget ones, the shiny ones, the fluffy ones, the furry ones, the proud ones, the loveable ones... it is really just a big dog show. Thinking about it, I actually wouldn't mind seeing it again some day, but only if I have a free ticket. I would never pay for it.
Thanks, Kerouac! Really, I am almost indifferent to horses, but enjoyed the stables and very much enjoyed the museum.
Looking at my pictures, I see I didn't do a great job of covering the interior of the château, partly because of being overawed. I really need to start traveling with someone like Mich, who does real research before heading out. My research on Chantilly went something like: big pretty house with some gardens; close to Paris. That was all I needed to know. I vaguely remember some reference to paintings & probably thought, "Duh -- fancy place, of course it has some paintings".
Side rant: you know how people worry about children behaving in sedate public places? Well, these kids were good as gold. Not so their vapidly fondly smiling parents and teachers. Did it not occur to any of them to position the children further into the room so that other museum goers could squeeze past & not worry about stepping on a small hand or foot?
The view out the window is refreshing after all those paintings clustered together. There is just too much to look at, so I imagine it's hard to focus on anything specific. I do like the dancing angels.
The Duke of Aumale designed the art galleries to showcase his exceptional collections... In keeping with [his] 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.
As you can see from my photos, "the typical museography of the time" doesn't always make for easy viewing. And there is so much! The house itself is truly magnificent, plus besides the art galleries there are narrow rooms with cases full of the most exquisite small pieces -- watches, ivory miniatures, etc. -- which along with everything else make for sensory overload.
The day trip as I experienced it is a perfectly satisfying and pleasant thing to do, especially with another person. There is so much in the house that each person might wind up seeing totally different things. I would say that Chantilly would also make for a great overnight trip, leisurely taking in more of the town and the château over a two day period.
The extensive grounds and gardens are not a plantsman's paradise in terms of species variety, but they are sheer bucolic delight for anyone, interested in plants or not. Really, I think the gardens might be enchanted, as there is a special light there, particularly in the woodsy areas, which just glows around you but resists being picked up by the camera.
Damselflies making more damselflies ~
~ And that concludes a wonderful day out from Paris ~
Frankly, I was amazed by the "overstuffed" walls of the château in Chantilly. From floor to ceiling, nothing but paintings, even when they were too high to see. Perhaps they will expand into a more traditional museum presentation some day, but they will need about four times more space. But I kind of liked the overkill factor of all of the paintings. In spite of the excess, it was really not difficult to zoom in on the outstanding ones.
Good point about the presentation, Kerouac. From what I read on the Domaine de Chantilly's site, keeping the pictures hung as they were in the 19th century is "in keeping with Duke of Aumale's wishes". Who knows if that is a legal stipulation or simply that "he would have wanted it that way". I agree about liking the overkill effect, which is completely appropriate to the place. Probably there is a digital process now which could duplicate every one of those pictures. The duplicates could be put in duplicate frames & hung in place of the originals, which would then be moved to a dedicated museum. Everything would look the same, but would that gut the awe one feels in the house when coming upon so much of the western canon so densely gathered there?