Private Chantilly Château & Park Tour
A private tour of the château in Chantilly is a short-cut to understanding the power and magnificence of the nobility in France. This tour brings you to the domain of France’s illustrious Montmorency and Condé families, and to a museum of world class stature. It can be argued with some success that the power of its creator, the Constable Anne in the 16th century, was equal to that of the crown. His descendant, Louis Bourbon, the Prince of Condé, renowned as the Grand Condé, actually threatened to supplant the king, Louis XIV, but failed, leading to his banishment from the court in 1650. Even his act of atonement, a gift to the king of Michelangelo’s twin sculptures, The Slaves, was not enough to redeem him. Until the creation of Versailles, none of the previous royal palaces held a candle to the elegance of Chantilly.
We start the tour of the château in the ‘Petit Chateau’ to see the impressive library and reading room which houses about 20,000 volumes, including medieval manuscripts, surrounded by banners of all of the comrades-in-arms of the monarchs of France. We then visit the Apartment of the Princes, which holds its own when compared to the State Apartments of Versailles. The chinoiserie in the Monkey Salon is especially worth mentioning, as is the Great Condé’s own battle gallery. You will also visit the chapel before we enter the ‘Grand Chateau’ where we will visit the banquet hall, followed by entering the art collection, one of the largest in France. It is the personal collection of the last owner of Chantilly, the Duke of Aumale, before he bequested, in 1886, the château and its contents to the French Academy of the Arts and Sciences, aka the Institut de France. It includes master-pieces of Raphael and Piero di Cosimo, as well as drawings of Giotto, Fillippino Lippi, and works of Watteau, Ingres, and Delacroix, among others.
The park of Chantilly was designed by André Le Nôtre and includes a Grand Canal that rivals the one in Versailles. You can easily spend an hour exploring the park, and you have an option to do so riding in a small (bumpy!) train ride that lasts a bit over half an hour. We prefer a tranquil walk through the English Garden, where you will see a small rustic village and some of the ‘follies’ that inspired Marie Antoinette for her own domain in Versailles. It also set off a fashion wherein any French lord worth their title had to have their own follies.
The great-grandson of the Great Condé, Louis-Henri de Bourbon, was a firm believer in reincarnation, convinced that he would return as a horse. To assure an abode be-fitting a Condé, he commissioned a talented architect, Jean Aubert, to build the magnificent stables of Chantilly, duly accomplished from 1719 to 1735. It housed 240 horses, 500 hounds and 100 employees. Today it is the home of the Living Horse Museum, which you can visit. In mid-afternoon, on certain days of the week, which change with the seasons, the museum offers a dressage show, a sort of equine ballet. If interested, we can suggest to you which date to choose for your tour, so that you can see the show, which usually lasts about 45 minutes.
Chantilly is also where 3000 thoroughbred horses routinely train for racing, including the race called the Prix de Diane, a very prestigious world class equine event.
Interested In Our Private Château de Chantilly Tour?
Depending on what you choose to include in your tour of Chantilly, there may or may not be enough time left to visit other near-by sites, such as the abbey in Royaumont, the ancient royal town of Senlis, the Château in Pierrefonds, or (needing more time) the charming village of Gerberoy. Further details will be provided upon request.
Just a quick note to let you know how much we enjoyed the tour of the Loire Valley [Custom Loire Valley Day Tour from Paris of 2 chateaux and 1 wine estate]. Let me start by saying the best part of the trip was meeting you and listening and learning about the history of France and specifically Chenonceaux. Your comments and guidance throughout the day made the experience far more than just a sight-seeing trip. Lunch was great and so were Amboise and the wine tasting. I can’t thank you enough for putting this tour together for us, we will enjoy the memories for years to come.
Stephen Kelly – San Francisco, CA