We had almost perfect weather for our first full day in France. We spent most of the day walking and sightseeing around the Château de Chantilly, and thoroughly enjoyed it!
We’ll be driving south to our next stop today, but I wanted to take advantage of good internet speed at our hotel to share some images with you.
Exploring The Great Stables and Château de Chantilly
Our hotel had provided us a day pass to the Château, gardens and Horse Museum. As we were heading out the door, the guy at the front desk told us to be sure and catch the Dressage demonstration at the Great Stables at 11am, so we went there first.
These stables were built in the 18th Century, and are the largest in Europe. Having spent a considerable amount of time in stables early in my life, I had to appreciate how well laid-out these were. (And how familiar they smelled…that mix of hay, manure, horses and leather.) I hadn’t slept well and was still a little bit bleary, and we were soon surrounded by dozens of kids on school outings, so I didn’t take a lot of photos here.
If you love horses, the Museum is worth a visit. The exhibits cover the evolution of the horse, our relationship with horses from pre-history on, early saddles and tack (did you know it was the Chinese who developed the first saddles?) horse breeding, horse racing and much more.
I tried to take some videos of the dressage demo. I’ll either try to edit and share those later, or will post on Instagram.
I needed some movement and fresh air, so we decided to explore some of the gardens first. What a delight! Aside from the traditional French garden behind the Château, most of the gardens are of a more naturalistic style. There was hardly anyone else there, so it felt like we almost had the place to ourselves. We spent a couple of hours just strolling through the gardens and petite forêt and it was exactly what I needed. Very restorative and refreshing!
This is for my friend Duchesse at Passage des Perles. 😉
We popped out to a nearby cafe for a quick lunch, and then went back to tour the Château itself and more of the gardens. The ticket we had allowed for all-day entrance to both the Great Stables and Château and grounds.
Though parts of the Château date back to the Middle Ages, most of what you see today was completed in the 19th Century by the Duke of Aumale. He was also a passionate art collector, and the massive collection of artwork is still displayed as it was during his lifetime. It’s an amazing collection!! I recommend using the free audio guide available at the front desk of the museum.
I really enjoyed the Chinoiserie-style artwork in this room, called the Monkey Room. It was so named because it features images of monkeys engaged in human activities like playing instruments and hunting. This was a popular theme with French aristocracy in the 18th century. This room was restored a few years ago.
After touring the inside, we had more gardens to explore!
Remember those sheep I mentioned yesterday? Here they are having a rest after a full day of “mowing lawns.” The baby lambs were adorable!
By late afternoon, dark clouds were moving in. A few minutes after we arrived back at the hotel, the thunder started rumbling and it was soon pouring. We congratulated ourselves on our timing.
After a fantastic dinner at Le Bouchon Gourmand, I conked out and slept like a baby.
Travel Wardrobe “Wild Cards”
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a couple of swaps I made on our way out the door. Here are the two “wild cards” I selected, based on a weather forecast that was looking warmer overall by the day. Above, I decided to add another linen blend shirt. This one has a fun gold pineapple print. The pants are a new addition to my wardrobe. They’re linen and…not black! They’re cropped and a bit wider than my other pairs, but still work with most of the tops. (Plus here.)
I need to wrap this up so we can pack up and hit the road. More soon!!