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Walking Over Haddon in The Peak District

I confess I'm a fair weather walker, which means I often want to walk on our holidays, but whether we go is always dependent on the weather. I have a Goretex jacket but it's like a talisman. I own it, but I don't want to wear it and I hope vainly that just by having spent so much on it an schlepping it with me that it's going to ward off the rain! As you can see my travel planning involves a good deal of "magical thinking!" In California our cultural exuberance (paired with low standards) means we shamelessly call anything a "hike"  - as if we've scaled Everest in an afternoon. Here in England I'm not sure I even qualify as a "walker" because that denotes a level of seriousness I've failed at previously. Minimally it means you're wearing boots  and have an Ordnance Survey map (and possibly a compass) in your back pocket. I guess I'm more of stroller to be honest and I've blogged about my strolls all over the world; m…

Chantilly


A few weekends ago we headed out to Chantilly to visit the chateau. It's an easy train ride from either Gare du Nord (25 minutes direct) or from Chatelet (40 minutes on the RER via various suburban stops).
It's an easy walk from the train station. Head straight out (with your back to the station) until you come to some parkland. Cross the street and you have two choices, either through a small wooded section towards the racetrack or around the woods on a path to the left. Either way it's signposted and it's easy to find. The walk was less than half an hour. For variety on the way back we walked through the attractive small town.

The first building we saw was the "Grand Escuries" which we approached from the side....
Surely this is the grandest stables in the world? It's now a "Horse Museum" and I must admit from a distance I thought this was the chateau!
When we turned the corned to see this view my mistake was clear!

The chateau has a wonderful art collection including an enormous quantity of portraits collected over a number of centuries and its well know for its collection of Raphael's work.
I particularly liked seeing the manner in which the paintings were displayed which is highly reminiscent of  pictures I saw at the Louvre displaying the long galleries as they were organized in the eighteenth and  nineteenth century. Here you have the sense of how these art collections looked before they became public spaces, postage stamped and jumbled together at the whim of the owner/collector, added to as each family member inherited.
In the dining room you can see the tapestries displayed in their gargantuan wooden frames. The scale and grandeur of the room from floor to ceiling  is hard to convey.The library was also very beautiful but their famous book of hours is not on display and we were not impressed by the copy they have on show.
There are so many beautiful rooms including an extraordinarily decorated monkey room combining a neoclassical and Chinoiserie elements with monkey characters, wild!
The parade of decorative rooms went on and on along with  grand staircases and the obligatory private chapel.

We hadn't got an early start (for which I am wholly to blame) and by the time we made it to the gardens it was getting rather cold. However I was fascinated to see this small hameau ( or hamlet) which became a model for Marie Antoinette's  rustic retreat   at the Petit Trianon. Certainly the place had the feeling of a pastoral idyll though it would have been even more attractive in the warmth!

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