Cycle Chantilly: 5 Reasons You Need to Explore Chantilly

See the magnificent Chateau de Chantilly on a bike tour in Northern France | Martine Savart
See the magnificent Chateau de Chantilly on a bike tour in Northern France | Martine Savart
Chantilly is a postcard perfect town in Northern France that is perhaps overshadowed by some of its more famous neighbours. However, we adore Chantilly's hidden charms and believe it's a truly worthwhile visiting it to get an authentic French experience. You can discover Chantilly on two UTracks cycling trips: the Cycle Amsterdam to Paris tour and the Paris to Bruges Bike and Barge tour.

1. Chateau de Chantilly

See the magnificent Chateau de Chantilly on a bike tour in Northern France
The top reason to visit Chantilly in France is, of course, to see Château de Chantilly. Set amidst landscaped gardens on the shores of an artificial lake, the castle is a storybook vision – sprawling pale yellow sandstone mansion with a slate-grey roof, turrets, and spires. The castle consists of two adjoining buildings. The Petit Château is the original (but restored) 16th-century part, while the 19th-century Grande Château or Château Neuf replaced the original castle that was destroyed during the French Revolution. Do not miss the Cabinet de Livres, which is home to literally hundreds of manuscripts and books including a Gutenberg Bible.
Intrinsic to the charm of the Chateau de Chantilly are its surrounding gardens which seem to be made for riding around by bicycle. In the heart of the gardens is the Hameau de Chantilly. Built in 1774, it is a collection of French Tudor style thatched roof cottages with richly decorated interiors. 

2. Musee Conde

See the magnificent Chateau de Chantilly on a bike tour in Northern France |  <i>Martine Savart</i>
The last owner of the chateau was Henri d’Orleans (the Duke of Aumale), son of the last King of France, Louis-Philippe. The duke rebuilt the Grande Château in the Renaissance style that we see today. He was an art lover and amassed quite a rich and varied collection of paintings and sculptures. These are on display in the Musée Condé, which is actually in the chateau itself. The layout looks quite random, which is no accident. Actually, by stipulation of the Duke, the layout remains unchanged and is in its original 19th century format.  Raphael, Poussin, Botticelli, Titian, Van Dyck, and more are represented. It is, in fact, the largest Renaissance collection outside of the Louvre.

3. Great Stables ( Grandes Ecuries)

See the wonderful horses in the Great Stables of Chantilly on a bike tour in Northern France
The Grandes Écuries or Great Stables are quite spectacular. Built by Louis-Henri de Bourbon, between 1719 and 1740, the Great Stables were originally home to 400 hounds and 240 horses of the royals. Today it houses the fascinating Living Museum of the Horse which displays equestrian works, riding equipment, rocking horses and other objets d’art. The daily equestrian shows which take place inside the stables are awe inspiring. They are a delicate combination of horsemanship, acrobatics – and humour. 

4. Creme Chantilly

A delicious creme Chantilly, one of the special treats of Northern France
We are in France, so of course there is an iconic dish. Chantilly’s claim to fame is a deliciously airy concoction — Crème Chantilly or Chantilly cream. A favourite with patissiers and dessert aficionados, it is cream and sugar whipped together until it thickens to form waves. 
There are various stories about the origin of Chantilly cream, all of which involve royal banquets. Whipped cream had been around in the French and Italian courts for a while, but the inspired addition of sugar took place in Chantilly at the Château de Chantilly where the Prince of Conde hosted frequent banquets.  A truly unique and memorable culinary experience is lunch at La Capitainerie restaurant, which is actually in a cave-like setting within the confines of the chateau and you can partake in a demonstration on how to make crème Chantilly. If you're hungry now, watch chef Mel from @miacucina_ give a demonstration on how to make your own Creme Chantilly at home.

5. Senlis

This hidden gem right by the forest of Chantilly is an easy 9km bike ride from Chantilly. This picturesque Gallo-Roman village is famed for its gothic Cathedral de Senlis and as being the home of Seraphine de Senlis, whom Australians came to love by the film of the same name and whose works are on display at the Art and Archaeology Museum in the centre of the town.

>> Want to visit Chantilly? Explore this beautiful town in Northern France on UTracks' Cycle Amsterdam to Paris tour and the Paris to Bruges Bike and Barge tour.
France, Cycling, Chantilly, Chateaux, Bike, Tour

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