(The day my hair was basically #goals hehe)
One of my main goals in life is to visit as many castles as possible. I've already done quite a few, but there are so many of them on my bucket list... The castle of Chantilly had been on there for a few years now, and I finally ticked it off the list this summer. In fact, I went there during a school trip when I was in primary school. My memories of it are quite thin, but there was one thing that had caught my attention and that I have remembered all those years: the château had the most impressive library I ever did see!
Going back recently, I can certainly say my childhood memories were right. What a library! And in general, what a castle! Chantilly is well-known for its incredible collections of works of art, gathered in the 19th century by its last owner, Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale. Lover of Art, of Archaeology and of History, he bequeathed his collections to the world, at one condition: that they were left untouched, as he had himself hung the paintings one by one, in a configuration he cherished.
Enough said now, let me take you inside that castle of wonders...
All the rooms are full of paintings, sculptures, furniture and other valuable works of art. The Duc d'Aumale incessantly looked for new beautiful pieces to add to his treasure: Renaissance portraits, Italian paintings, like the works of Raphael, French 18th-century court paintings, but also Roman mosaics and archaeological finds from Pompeii.
There's so much to see, you can spend a good two hours visiting the inside of the castle. The audio-guide is incredibly helpful to understand the story of all these pieces and their owner. Speaking of which, I would have loved to meet if travel back in time was a thing... We would have got on very well, if I dare say so!
After having taken your time to go through all the rooms of the castle, make sure to keep the library for the end of your visit. It really is the cherry on the cake! Just imagine... More than 15,000 books, manuscripts and volumes from as far as the medieval times, gathered beautifully in one awe-inspiring room.
Yeah, books. EVERYWHERE. Isn't that the best type of room you could ask for in a castle?
I honestly felt like Belle discovering the library in Beauty and the Beast. This is when the memories of childhood came back; and I could perfectly remember that room, the manuscripts laid out in glass-protected displays in the middle of the room, the golden titles shining in the dim light.
One of my other goals in life is to build up a library just like that. But then, who wouldn't want one?
Once you've finished touring the house and had a proper look at all the works of art (and they are all worth a proper look!), it's time for a walk in the gardens. There, you'll have plenty of space to have a relaxing wander around and explore. It is worth noting that the gardens were designed by none other than André Le Nôtre, the iconic gardener of Versailles. This guy really knew his job! However, don't expect anything close to the Versailles gardens; the jardins of Chantilly are not made to show off. Fewer statues, fewer intricate pathways, fewer fountains, but an incredibly peaceful and wide area to discover.
Plus you can take really cool outfit photos there. And just pretend to be the lady of the castle. ;)
The gardens are big, so take a map in the castle before you go. You'll be able to spot the different areas more easily: the Anglo-Chinese garden (yes, this is actually a thing), the Petit Parc, the Grand Canal... My favourite area to explore was the English Garden, located at the west of the whole park. There, you'll find a beautiful artificial lake, a grotto, and even a (false) Roman temple. English garden ideals at their finest!
See what I'm talking about:
After passing by the Temple of Venus, walk a little more to stumble upon the Island of Love. There's clearly a theme going on here, isn't it?
Like many other bloggers, 'I have this thing with floors'. And this is possibly the coolest mosaic floor I've ever seen! Now I know that in my house in the future, I'll have the garden paved with Fleur de Lys mosaics.
Our tour of the gardens is over. There is a lot more I haven't shown you in this post, but you would be scrolling down for ages if I did show everything... Instead, I'll encourage you to visit Chantilly by yourself. But refrain yourself from stealing anything from the library, they wouldn't like it. ;)
Do you like fairytale libraries as well? Or are gardens more your thing?