The Château de Chantilly Story
The Château de Chantilly is one of the hidden gems of France and led to Richard Nixon, the then President of the USA, during his official visit to Chantilly in 1968 to say "Why have I been taken to Versailles seven times and never here?"
From 1386 to 1897, the Château was passed on by inheritance to different branches of the same family, without ever being sold. The ORGEMONT family (14th - 15th centuries), followed by the MONTMORENCY family (15th - 17th centuries), followed by the Bourbon Condé family (17th - 18th centuries), cousins of the kings of France, the most famous of whom, Le Grand Condé, entrusted the lay out of the grounds to André le Nôtre (who had just completed laying out the grounds of Versailles), and finally Henri d'Orléans, Duc d'Aumale (1822 - 1897), the son of King Louis Philippe of France.
The Duc d'Aumale inherited Chantilly from his great uncle, the Prince de Condé, when he was eight years old, in 1830. Exiled, like many of the royal families in France at the time, from 1848 to 1870 in Twickenham, near London, he built up the magnificent collections that are now conserved in Chantilly.
When he returned to France, a widower and having lost his two sons at the ages of 18 and 21, he had the Grand Château, which was razed to the ground during the French Revolution, reconstructed. The house displays his magnificent collection of paintings (Poussin, Ingres, Delacroix, Fra Angelico, Van Dyck are worthily represented here), drawings, objets d'art and books.
In 1884, the Duc d'Aumale, who had no direct heir, bequeathed the Chantilly estate to the Institut de France, subject to the Condé Museum being opened to the public.
The stretch of water playing host to the swim section of the inaugural triathlon is the stunning Grand Canal, which is really La Nonette, a modest tributary of the Oise, canalised by Le Nôtre. The start and finish sections of the race are located in the aptly named section called La Manche.
The cycle route, on leaving the estate grounds, circumnavigates the Foret de Chantilly, whose arrow straight bridleways and star-shaped crossing points are also a product of Le Notre. From 1815 to 1830, Louis-Henri II, last Duke of Bourbon, hunted here every day. Later, numerous riding facilities (along with numerous English who at the time were recognised as the world’s experts on training horses) and the magnificent Chantilly Racecourse were created at this magnificent place.
Parc de Sylvie, the location of the run section, is named after the Maison de Sylvie which it surrounds. This charming 17th century building, baptised "Sylvie" by the poet Théophile de Viau, is a memory to the Duchesse de Montmorency.
Château de Chantilly also has a rich history of film including the James Bond Classic, A View to a Kill (1985) and the Pink Panther (2006) which lends it’s name to our children’s races.
Finally the cream! François Vatel (1631 – April 24, 1671) was a French chef, famous for inventing Chantilly cream in April 1671 at the Château de Chantilly. At this same banquet, Vatel, the consummate perfectionist, was supposedly so distraught about the lateness of the fish, the banquet was to be held on a Friday, and subsequent mishaps that he committed suicide by running himself through with a sword. According to some versions of the story, his body was discovered by an aide who came to tell him of the arrival of the fish. His death was treated as a national tragedy.