Last Sunday, on what turned out to be the last sunny day of summer 2004, I visited the Château de Chantilly. Beyond being the place of origin of whipped cream (in french : crème Chantilly), Chantilly, which is about 40 km north of Paris, was also the home of that great line of french nobles : the Princes de Condé. This was where they built their castle. The castle I visited is however the result of the many modifications that a quintessential nineteenth century gentleman brought to it. This gentleman was Henri d’Orléans, Duc d’Aumale and fifth son of King Louis-Philippe d’Orléans. The career of Henri d’Orléans was all that one could expect of a gentleman in his days. He was first a soldier, then a businessman, then a scholar and art collector, and finally a generous donor as, upon his death, he bequeathed the castle and all it’s impressive content to the French State. The castle has remained the home of his great collection and is now visitable by the public. Amongst works shown, one can find masterpieces by such great artists as Rafael, Fra Lippo Lippi, Van Dyck and Corot to name but a few. The library is also very impressive and has a very scholarly feel to it with all it’s old leatherbound books and gas lighting. Last but not least, the gardens, “à la française” of course, also make for a nice walk.

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