Chantilly is about 25 minutes north of Paris via train. You can also take the train RER D but it takes an hour. I took the regular train. Chantilly has a beautiful chateau. The main town center, where the train stops, isn’t far from the castle and that is only one of the main draws of Chantilly. The town also has a focus around horses. They have a hippodrome for races and it draws a big crowd during the racing season.
There are two paths leading to the castle, one through town and one around the hippodrome. I took the one past the hippodrome on my way there and through town on my way back. As I was buying a ticket to the castle, the person behind the counter asked if I also wanted a ticket to “La Spectacular!” The people made it sound so exciting. I had to get a ticket. It was a show with performing horses, Dressage. Dressage is horse dancing and I had no idea what to expect.
I had a bit of time before the show so I walked around the stables and saw the horses I was about to see perform in “La Spectacular!” The carriage house has been turned into a museum for carriages and other horse related things: saddles, bits, harnesses etc. It also had statues and wooden carousel pieces. Being the stable and carriage house for the chateau meant that it was huge. There were at least 16 tall double doors leading into each original room from a center courtyard. Each one was big enough to house a traveling carriage from another chateau. In 1720, 23 vehicles were being kept here and 220 horses.
Finally it was time for the show. After finding a seat I wasn’t too sure what to expect but the show was made up of little scenes with humans and horses telling short stories. Some were like mini ballets or mini acrobatic shows. I enjoyed it and would recommend seeing it if you get a chance.
After the show I walked to the castle. There were people riding horses on a grass trail. The sky was amazing and the castle was becoming a backdrop for a bridal photo shoot. I walked over the moat and entered the chateau. I enjoy a good audio tour and this one did not disappoint. There is a huge two floor library and a hall of art which included a few pieces by Rafael. In the castle dining area they had plates, cutlery and even a sample menu. I saw some beautiful locally made lace. I also got to see an exhibit of Michelangelo’s drawings.
After I had my fill of the castle I went outside to wander the huge grounds. You can actually rent a golf cart but I arrived too late in the day. The grounds have fountains, statues and lots of wild flowers.
I had dinner in town. I like to eat a little early so I don’t need a reservation. A lot of people eat later in the evening. I had to have dessert with whipped cream. Chantilly is French for whipped cream. It is said that it was invented by a chef who worked at the chateau.
On my walk back to the train station I saw many horse related souvenirs and a beautiful sunset.