North of Paris is a wonderful palace that is not as crowded as Versailles and offers a treat that no other place can offer. Getting there takes a little train trip.
To get to Chantilly, you must depart from the Paris Nord train station and go to Chantilly Gouvieu. If you just tell the person at the ticket window you wish to go to Chantilly, they know what to do.
Purchasing these tickets is not difficult. When you find a ticket booth at Paris Nord, you will find that the agents speak a number of languages, English being quite common. Wishing to show off, I ordered the tickets in French. We had already been in Paris for a week at this point and I was doing pretty good. We did end up in the right place so I think I did quite well.
Our SNCF tickets for our family (3 adults and 1 child) cost 18.30 Euros each way. The train itself leaves about every 30 - 60 minutes. If you are unsure about the train, ask the ticket agent to point you in the right direction. Also, don't be afraid to confirm your directions with train officials if you need to. Our stay in Paris was so pleasant as the French were more than happy to help us go the right direction. We always had the best instructions.
The train ride was excellent. Keep your camera out to take pictures of the scenery.
Once you get off the train, there is a few ways to get there. We were told there is supposed to be a free bus service that will get you out to the main gate of the palace grounds. We only saw it when we were at the palace and it stopped running before we got around to it.
There should also be a lot of taxis at the train station. Oddly enough, we saw over a dozen taxis, but there were no drivers. We will have to find out how to get a taxi rolling there next time.
Walking is the option we chose. If you do this, bring food. (You should bring a picnic anyway) We walked with no provisions and suffered for it. The walk will take nearly 45 minutes. As you walk out the train station, walk straight out the parking lot, up a block and you will find an electronic map with lights that lead you to the palace. It is not perfect though.
On your walk, when you see the stables (they look like a palace too) you can head right out across the field toward it. You will see sidewalks leading there. The chateau is to the right and beyond the stables.
At the electronic map/sign, there is another way to go. Turn right on the main road and proceed along the block. There is a very nice foot/bike path that leads right up to the chateau. Either way you go it is about 45 minutes to walk. We really hoofed it back on the foot/bike path and could do no better despite the fact that it is shorter.
Once there, you will find three major attractions. The stables are interesting for anyone, especially any members of your party interested in horses. There are still exhibits from history and around the world as well as a live animal show.
The Chateau has three different parts. One is the public access areas. The second is the French only guided tour of the apartments. Even if you do not understand French, it is interesting as each room has a rack with translations in many languages. The third part is the restaurant. We missed the food because we did not plan our tour to coincide with restaurant hours. we were late and hungry by the time we got there.
The third major part of the trip is the gardens. The best part is to take a walk to the little hamlet in the garden. There you will find a place that serves WONDERFUL deserts covered in REAL Chantilly Cream. I thought I had tasted it before, but was WRONG. The delight they served was unlike anything I have ever tasted. We had it on Apple Pie... heavenly.
They sell a ticket that lets you get into both the stables and the chateau. Children 4-12 are 7.00 Euros and adults are 16.00 Euros.
Date taken: 2007 07 24 17:50 Tuesday
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