My two friends and I had a Monday off due to a holiday in France, so we decided we wanted to go on a day trip somewhere outside of Paris that wouldn’t be too expensive. We Googled a few things and came across the website for Chantilly, which looked absolutely gorgeous, and the train tickets were inexpensive for a 30 minute train ride. I then read that it has the largest equestrian center in Europe, and as a competitive equestrian who’s had horses since 9 years old that sounded like a dream. Naturally I became extremely excited and couldn’t wait to see it.
The next day we took our train in the morning and got there around 11 AM. We walked about a mile through pretty woods to get to the land with the barn and castle/château. When we arrived we could only see the equestrian center, which was incredible, and we actually thought it was the castle at first until we walked in – that’s how amazing it was.
Once you go through the front entrance you purchase an inexpensive ticket and then can walk through the barn where the stalls and horses are. Although they still have a racetrack on the property, they mostly focus on dressage now, as well as some “shows” on specific dates for spectators.
Once we saw the barn, horses, and some of the riders, we walked into the museum that is connected to the main section of the barn. The museum had multiple rooms that showed the chronological history of horses. It was actually really interesting and I learned numerous things I hadn’t known previously.
After the barn we walked across the field to see the château, which was even more beautiful. First we took some pictures with it in the background, and then we made our way up the hill to go inside. We got an audio guide for the self-tour, which was very helpful. There were a lot of unique and interesting rooms and facts that we learned.
About 45 minutes later we walked outside and looked around the gardens. There was a little train that would take you around the gardens every hour so we hopped on one of them. The gardens were really pretty and there was even a kangaroo sanctuary in the middle of the woods.
We were done for the day around 4 PM, but our train didn’t leave until 7 PM, so we decided to walk around the town and get dinner. This was the only downside to our journey to Chantilly – the town seemed practically deserted and restaurants didn’t open until 6 PM. We walked up and down streets for over an hour and then just waited for something to open. That was a frustrating end to our day, so for anyone who visits I recommend eating at the restaurant on the Chantilly grounds near the gardens.
Overall, it was the perfect, beautiful, and cheap day trip for our day off and we were home by 8 PM.