There are many things that make the Domaine de Chantilly unique (and, in my opinion, much more interesting to visit than Versailles). Its last resident was Henri d’Orléans, Duke d’Aumale, and son of the last King of France, Louis-Philippe. His family’s princely apartments, the only remaining examples from France’s “July Monarchy” (ruling between the revolutions of 1830 and 1848) will be reopened this month after several years of careful renovations.
The Duke and Duchesse d’Aumale’s Private Apartments were created in 1845 within the oldest part of Château de Chantilly, the Renaissance-era Petit Château built in 1557 for the Connétable Anne de Montmorency. The rooms were opened for guided tours for the first time in 1993, relatively untouched since the death of the Duc d’Aumale. But the faded tapestries, sagging wood floors, worn-out gilt and yellowed paintings needed a total makeover.
If you haven’t been to Chantilly yet, make this the year to take the plunge. Just 40 minutes by RER from Gare du Nord, the Domaine is right on the edge of the adorable little town of Chantilly, surrounded by wooded forests, and noticeably less crowded than Versailles. There’s much to see: a Renaissance Château with an art collection of world-renowned antique masterpiece paintings, Le Nôtre Gardens (with a cute hamlet that inspired Marie Antoinette to have her own constructed), the famous Chantilly Hippodrome, and the magnificent 18th century Great Stables (the largest in Europe), now home to the Living Horse Museum.
The Private Apartments of the Duke and Duchess d’Aumale reopen on February 23, 2019. Access is only possible during a private tour, of which there are three daily in French, and one in English at 11:30am. The tours are €5 per person (in addition to the château entrance fee). You can purchase the tour tickets at the entrance of the Château or reserve in advance online.
Open daily EXCEPT Tuesday from 10:30am-5pm in Low Season (until March 29, 2019), and daily 10am-6pm in High Season (until October 29, 2019). The gardens always stay open at least one hour after the château closes. Domaine tickets are €17 (includes audio guide, temporary exhibitions, and a dressage show at the Living Horse Museum), €13.50 for kids. Family tickets (2 adults, 2 kids) are €48.
Previous Secrets of Paris articles about Chantilly: