To celebrate fifteen years of marriage, we had a romantic weekend getaway in Chantilly. My friend Danila offered to take Juliet, and suggested some mutual friends to take William and Gabriel, and then offered to collect all three of them after church so we would only have to make one pit-stop at the end of our mini vacation. The weekend was magical.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Chateau Mont Royal in a “Chamber Double Superior” – a double superior room. And oh, I wish I could tell you this post was sponsored and everything was free, but alas …
However, the stay was magical. According to the infallible Wikipedia, Mont Royal was built at the beginning of the 20th century in the style of Louis XVI, but the owner was never able to enjoy it as he was called to duty in WWI and lost his life there. The exterior was dedicated to hunting, and the interior to music. This is what the front looks like:
And they did a great job in extending it to include more rooms – you cannot distinguish easily between the old and the new.
This is what our double room looked like.
with a beautiful view over the forest that sets off Chantilly. Even when the weather leaves much to be desired, it’s still beautiful.
The staff took great pains to find out if we were celebrating something special, and when we returned to our room after dinner, it was to this:
Do you die? I die.
The interior of the hotel is stately. This is the lobby and reception.
And since Chantilly is such an equestrian town, let me give you a closer view of the statues/ lampshades that flank the reception desk.
Oh yeah. They’re life-sized. Moving towards the restaurant of the chateau, we come across this work of art
– a frame that has been turned into a chair by way of attaching a wooden structure, covered with tapestry. It’s clever and beautiful.
And then you find the circular staircase and balustrade
before you enter the restaurant. You cannot forget that you are dining in a chateau.
The restaurant is located in a room, originally built for private theatre, and the owner (Fernand Halphen)’s widow had it turned into a conservatory to support young music students. The moulding, chandeliers, fireplace, tall ceilings, and archways give timeless appeal, and provide a tangible escape from the mundane.
The chateau was ransacked during WWII, but reclaimed when the war was over. Halphen’s descendants sold it in 1989 to M. Hermier, and the following year, the chateau opened as a hotel.
The area is known for its excellent spa services, and this hotel is no exception. I booked an hour-long massage, which was beyond great. And if the thought weren’t so distasteful to my husband (who doesn’t like strangers touching him), we could have booked a massage for two!
You can learn all about the Chateau Hotel Mont Royal services by clicking here.
A final word about where to stay before I move on to where to eat! Two other hotels to consider when booking your weekend are the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, which is much older than the Mont Royal. I never could figure out what the building entailed, and whether it was connected to the city wall. All I can say that if the Mont Royal is impressive, this hotel is doubly so.
We ate dinner there, and the ambience – and food – is absolutely perfect. One other place to consider is Chateau de Montvillargenne, which is the biggest chateau hotel in the area. Find out more by clicking here.
Where to eat
Jardin d’Hiver, Auberge de Paume
Moving right along. We spent our first evening at the Jardin d’Hiver (the winter garden) of the Auberge du Jeu de Paume. You can peruse the menu here.
The setting was perfect.
I was deliriously happy to begin our weekend in such a place.
And deliriously happy when I tasted the foie gras and granny apples, soaked in lime, for an entrée.
This was followed by the most delicious 7-hour lamb ever tasted on this earth, and then sorbet with the famous Crème Chantilly (this town is where whipped cream was created).
We had breakfast in our hotel, and I was stunned to find there was even a gluten-free section of breads. This is still practically unheard of in France.
And we dined on French cheeses, smoked salmon, sausage, fruit salad, yoghurt, pastries, bacon and eggs, strong black coffee – not all at once, of course. This was over the course of two days.
La Capitainnerie – Chateau de Chantilly
On Saturday, we visited the Chateau of Chantilly, and I’ll tell you more about what to see in the next post. But it’s worth mentioning that the restaurant, La Capitainnerie is located in the vaulted 17th century kitchen of the chateau.
We sat near the window, overlooking a cobblestone courtyard and the stained glass gallery across the way.
I had heard mixed reviews about the restaurant, but thought that the antique setting (combined with the fact that they accept ticket restaurant, which made it a nearly free meal for us), cinched the deal. In fact we were not at all disappointed. I had salmon with hollandaise sauce over zucchini noodles.
And balls of sorbet/ ice-cream with the famous Chantilly cream.
Here is one more peek at a section of the restaurant. It’s really super charming, and a nice break from touring the château.
Opera – Chateau Mont Royal
Dinner that night was the biggest deal as we ate at the expensive Opera restaurant in our hotel. (In fact it was where we had breakfast, but the evening light changes everything).
What was fun about this is that they brought lots of “amuse-bouches” in between courses. We had a block of foie gras and a block of smoked salmon, followed by a tiny portion of pumpkin purée with foamed truffle before we even began. My entrée was (again) foie gras – don’t worry, I went to the gym this morning – and I was excited to be able to eat it with the gluten-free bread. This was followed by sea bream and root vegetables. I forgot that I’m not crazy about root vegetables.
(My husband got steak with foie gras on it and he said it was the best he’d ever had in his life).
And then we had dessert. For me it was enormous red berries with sorbet and whipped cream. And one of the sorbet flavours was poppy! Not as in poppy seed, but as in the red flowers that Monet painted! Matthieu was able to get a real pastry – mille-feuilles with whipped cream.
Fortunately, we had only to stagger up the stairs in order to collapse on our beds in the stupor that follows rich fare.
La Ferme du Condé
This restaurant was recommended by Fodor’s Guide as one of the places where you must eat, and reservations are essential. So how could we turn it up? Never mind that I couldn’t imagine ever being hungry again …
La Ferme du Condé is in a converted Anglican church, on one of the less pretty streets of the town of Chantilly, albeit one that borders the park. The setting was as magnificent as promised.
And when we went to the loo, we discovered where all the other people were hiding. In the former sanctuary!
The price is very reasonable – you can get a fixed price menu for 20€. And for that, I do recommend the restaurant. But … despite an auspicious start with carpaccio and parmesan shavings for my husband and (I will post the recipe soon, keeping you in suspense in the meantime) for me, the main course left much to be desired. We both ordered roast chicken and it was bland.
Usually I associate roast chicken with crispy, seasoned skin and crispy matchstick fries on the side. This had rather plain skin, dry meat, and the only seasoning came in the form of gravy. It was accompanied by cottage fries, which were soggy and firm. I was not impressed.
It all went downhill from there because she asked me point-blank if I hadn’t liked it when she picked up my half-eaten plate, and I couldn’t lie – or even think of a gracious reply on such short notice.
So she sort of ignored us after that. And promised a café gourmand that included sorbet and chocolate mousse, only to get fruit salad and crème brulée (because they were out)? We sort of slinked out of there, and the experience left a bad taste in our mouth, if you’ll forgive the metaphor.
However, I can still cautiously recommend it, hoping that our experience was a fluke. They do seem to have a steady clientele.
So here are way too many words, and way too many pictures to describe eating way too much food. But … maybe it’ll inspire you to go to Chantilly? To consider a weekend away on your next trip to Paris? It’s so close to the airport, you absolutely need to know about it, at the very least.
What about you, dear readers? Do you splurge on luxury from time to time? Or would this be way beyond your scope?