Fun language fact: in French, whipped cream is called “Chantilly” (pronounced something like “shawn-tee-yee”) because it was supposedly invented, or at least popularized, at the dairy on the Chantilly estate. If you are not into castles, gardens, horses, art, books, or military history, you should go to Chantilly just to have whipped cream at the source. However, if you are like me and you enjoy at least 4 out of those 6 other things, you can skip the whipped cream and have plenty of other stuff to look at instead. Chantilly is the château-turned-museum that was passed down from Anne de Montmorency to Henri II de Montmorency to the Grand Condé (Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé), destroyed in the French Revolution, and ultimately rebuilt and donated to the Institut de France by Henri d’Orléans, duc d’Aumale. The Duke insisted that the artwork remain as he had hung it and not be rearranged within the château, sold, or loaned to other museums. So, for instance, if you want to see Raphael’s “Three Graces,” you have to come to Chantilly.
The château also features a library of thousands of printed books, several hundred incunabula, and about 300 medieval manuscripts including Les très riches heures of the Duc du Berry (sadly, only a facsimile of the latter work is displayed in order to preserve the condition of the original). Chantilly also features the Great Stables (the Grand Condé thought he would be reincarnated as a horse, and built accordingly), a hamlet (faux-rustic village as at Versailles) and a Le Nôtre-designed garden. In short, Chantilly checks all my boxes. My only regret is that I didn’t get to spend more time there: 4 hours including a relaxed café lunch with one of our students. I took a good walk through the château and got lots of pictures inside and out, but did not make it to the hamlet and our tickets did not cover the Great Stables. However, as I’ve been telling our students, you have to believe that you will come back and hold some things in reserve for the next trip.
So . . . who wants to see some photos? Click through! Actually, get a sandwich and then click through. There are a LOT of pictures.
The château as you walk up to it from the entry gate
It was overcast when we arrived.
Anyone who has been to Versailles will recognize Le Nôtre’s work when they see it.
Another view of the garden
This is the side of the château from which visitors enter.
(Downton Abbey joke, sorry.)
You can tell that the château was used as a hunting lodge.
Arms of the Duc d’Aumale
The Duke’s monogram (H O for Henri d’Orléans) is everywhere.
The library is beautiful!
2 volumes of this polyglot Bible were on display.
Frontispiece to one of the Bible volumes
Page from another Bible volumes showing the 4 languages in which it is printed.
Another view of the library
Will Madam require a reading chair? Yes. Yes, she will.
Mourning stationery–a letter written from Twickenham outside London just after the Duke lost his son. “Believe me, my dear Count, your affectionate H. d’Orléans.”
Chantilly’s “regular” stationery
Selfie-ing in the “Grand Cabinet de Monsieur le Prince.” The Grand Condé was styled “Monsieur le Prince” when he became first prince of the blood after his father died.
Another view of the Grand Cabinet
A fire screen in the “Galerie des Singes”: the walls are painted with images of monkeys acting like people.
A monkey about to fire a gun?
Here is the Grand Condé about to throw his marshal’s baton so his troops will follow it.
The music room
China figurines in the music room
China figurines in the music room
Monsieur le Prince again
Now I am just playing around with the camera
The Grand Condé himself
The upper level of the library
The books are shelved by format to some extent. These are tiny—
the red one at right is probably only 3″ tall.
The card on each chair says “Please don’t sit here.” But surely the monogram conveys that message?
“Is your name Henri d’Orléans? No? Then DON’T SIT HERE.”
The “Hall of Stags,” used as a dining room
Glassware with the Duke’s arms
Facsimile of an 18C dinner menu
Joan of Arc listening to her voices
The princess of Condé says “Mmm, I don’t think so.”
One of the most important art collections in France
A door with the HO monogram
Miniatures from The Book of Hours of Etienne Chevalier
Close-up of one of the miniatures
Raphael’s “Three Graces.” Had hardly given this painting a thought before today;
now I am utterly in love with it.
“A good king; happiness”
“May God protect France”
In the “Chapel of Hearts” where the hearts of the Condé princes are interred
The chapel altar
Super-elaborate stair railing leading down to the private apartments
More playing with the camera
On the way out . . .
Au revoir, Chantilly!