Chateau de Chantilly
Chateau de Chantilly is one of my favorite chateau in France. Unlike many of the chateau close to Paris it is built on a lake and has its main entrance on the second floor, which is unusual for French chateau.
The Chateau as it stands today was rebuilt in the 1870's. The original chateau was built in the 1400's but it was destroyed in the French revolution.
The chateau is set in gardens designed by Andre le Notre, is home to the Musee du Conde and is close to the Grand Stables where they have horse demonstrations/shows.
What to see
The chateau is home to the Musee du Conde, one of the largest and most prestigious collections of French art and ancient book illuminations outside of the Louvre.
There are a numer of different ticket options available. You can purchase a ticket which allows you access only to the gardens. The formal gardens were designed by Andre le Notre and feature a formal sculptured garden with its grand canal and a number of fountains, as well as a less sculptured English-style gardens, an Anglo-Chinese garden and a small hamlet area. There is a children' play area in the gardens. The Chantilly website has a good map of the Chantilly Gardens. A garden only ticket costs around 7 Euro.
The second ticket option includes the garden, and also includes access to the chateau and the Musee du Conde. This ticket costs around 14 Euro. The Miusee du Conde is home to a fantastic collection of 17th and 18th Century Dutch and Italian art as well as Neoclassical, Renascence and Oriental works. The entry price also allows you to see one of the small libraries and some of the other rooms. There are two tours available at a surcharge. They are guided tours available only in French however, even if you do not speak French, they are worth taking to see the more formal rooms of the chateau. If you are lucky (or if you ask) the guide may take you in to the other, bigger, more impressive and normally not seen library behind the scenes.
The third ticket option includes the Chateau and Musee du Conde, the gardens and also the equestrian museum at the grand stables, a short walk from the Chateau (5 - 10 minutes) and access to one of the horse shows (note: this is the regular/normal horse shows, not any special shows that are being performed). This ticket costs around 18 Euro, but you will need to reserve a place for the show. If you are interested in this option you can book online, or you should arrive in the morning for the Chateau and try for an afternoon horse show if it is available.
Things to do
To get to Chateau de Chantilly you need to catch a regional (or "Ter") train from Paris Gare de Nord. There are many trains each day. You can access the train schedule here.
The TER line does not take reservations so there is no need to pre-book.
The station you need to get off the train at is Chantilly Gouvieux.
From the Chantilly Gouvieux train station you have the option to catch the bus (from the Chantilly Gouvieux train station). Ask for "La Chateau" on the bus. To find the bus station, turn left as you exit the train station. It is unmarked, but right beside the train station. Look for bus timetables, or stationary buses to narrow it down.
You can also walk to the chateau which takes around 20 - 30 minutes. You can either walk through the town or beside the racecourse.
To the chateau via the town
To the chateau via the racecourse
Another option is to walk partway into town and purchase lunch from a bakery in town and then return to the racecourse route and eat lunch on the walk to the chateau in the forest or in one of the fields surrounding the racecourse.
Approximate Distance from Paris: 38km/24mi
Time to get there: about 25 minutes on a regional train followed by a 30 - 40 minute walk or a bus ride.
Transport Method: Regional Train from Paris Gare du Nord
Approximate Price: Entrance to the chateau is from 14 Euro per person,
Train is 8 Euro per person each way
Worth: A full afternoon.
Website: http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/ (available only in French)
Closed on Tuesdays