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Be enchanted by Chantilly (Paris) Staying At Auberge du Jeu de Paume

With a storied past of a Royal prince, a captivatingly beautiful castle, an extraordinary art collection, legendary feasting, elegant equestrian pursuits and an enchanting forest, the picturesque historic town of Chantilly has all the ingredients for a perfect fairytale escapade. For my storybook experience, I stayed at Auberge du Jeu de Paume, the luxury 5-star boutique Relais & Châteaux property at the heart of Chantilly, with standout signature dining by Chef Clément Le Norcy at La Table du Connétable, and perfect pampering at the Valmont Spa.

My French fairytale adventure began once I was whisked away in a limousine from the sparkling new Schengen Air France terminal of Paris Charles de Gaulle airport for the short, 30-minute journey north to the enchanting French town of Chantilly, writes Andrew Forbes (The Luxury Editor).

Soon enough we left the motorway and began navigating the country roads passing through idyllic scenes of French pastoral life. As we reach Chantilly, there’s a forest. As we continued, the notifications from my iPhone were silenced as momentarily we lost phone signal. Emerging from the forest was passing through a moment of time travel. The tarmac road had changed to stone cobbles, and the view was now of 18th and 19th-century French aristocratic architecture.

I had arrived in Chantilly.

Hotel Auberge du Jeu de Paume

The car drew up outside the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, a noble 19th-century property, and now a charming Relais & Châteaux boutique hotel that immediately immerses you in the destination.

Built around a central courtyard, with 67 rooms and 25 suites, most with views of the Chantilly castle gardens, this dreamy place, part of the SANA Hotels group, resonates with the charm of a sophisticated country house, a ‘Maison’ where you feel like a privileged house guest.

The lady of the manor is Marie-Hélène Moreira, the welcoming French-born General Manager of Auberge du Jeu de Paume who, thanks to her Portuguese heritage, also brings plenty of Iberian warmth to this Gallic hotel.

Accommodation

My Prestige Terrace Suite overlooked the original Jeu de Paume court, from which the hotel takes its name. I am told the game was a little like tennis but played with the palms of your hand, like volleyball.

The view extended to the gardens of the Domaine de Chantilly estate and the romantic towers of the castle.

Each of the 92 rooms and suites embodies the charm of classic, understated luxury French style, echoing the look of a sophisticated 18th-century residence. On the wall behind each bed are captivating rural scenes of time-honoured storytelling captured on intricate blue or burgundy Toile de Jouy canvases, curated by Pierre Frey, while furniture is in the Louis XV-style, by the Henryot and Collinet.

The seductive style continues in the elegant bathroom, with a Carrara marble vanity, a vintage Murano glass mirror, and luxe amenities by Lalique. Details include a handcrafted local Chantilly porcelain soap dish (you can purchase one as a souvenir at the hotel’s boutique), and exquisite turndown amenities including handmade chocolates from the local town and the most marvellous macarons.

If you want to truly immerse yourself in French aristocratic extravagance, book the Aumale Suite, and if you are coming with the company, then you can take the adjacent suites, and combine them into a completely private part of the hotel, as a 3-bedroom Arc de Triomphe Suite.

To spa or to bar

This is the kind of magical destination you might expect to have to drive hours to reach, yet it’s practically a stone’s throw from Paris, just 40 kilometres away, and even closer to the airport. There’s a direct train service that whisks you from Chantilly into the capital to browse the flea markets and lunch in the shadow of the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, and still be back at the hotel in time for a signature treatment at the hotel’s elegant Valmont Spa…

…and later a cocktail in the seductive Lounge Bar.

La Table du Connétable – gastronomic dining

I began my evening with a champagne cocktail vermouth and kir before an indulgent evening at La Table du Connétable.

Chef Clément Le Norcy is the talent behind the renaissance of this acclaimed restaurant. The open kitchen brings a more contemporary feel to this elegant space, while Le Norcy’s charismatic and relaxed style makes you feel engaged with the chefs creating this culinary experience.

Dining is a Michelin Star worthy experience with white-gloved waiters, raising sparkling glass cloches, and revealing aromatic, seasonal delicacies.

The meal begins with the most delectable homemade bread with smoked butter before exquisite seasonal dishes presented with precision and flair, including the winter cod, an outstanding lobster with parsnip and chocolate, creative plates like Wellington-style sweetbreads, before classic treats like Crepes Suzette prepared in a contemporary style, tableside.

Wine pairings are a treat prepared by sommelier Jean-Cédric Thavard and his assistant Edouard Geneau.

Chantilly Experiences

Equestrian pursuits – Chantilly is renowned for its equestrian culture, and the Clefs d’Or concierge at Auberge du Jeu de Paume will happily create personalised experiences, from a guided visit to the 18th century Great Stables, a palace dedicated to horses, as well as a lunch at the Chantilly Racecourse, a fun and engaging experience capturing the spirit of the destination.

Epicurean experiences are also on the menu – after all, I am sure the first thing you thought of when reading the name Chantilly was whipped cream.

Crème Chantilly – this is said to have been created in the kitchens of the castle, the Chateau de Chantilly, as they sought to create a treat for the aristocratic guests.

Chef Clément Le Norcy’s team will be happy to host a masterclass on how to make authentic Chantilly. Believe me, it’s a delicious experience, and the effort of whipping up the cream is more than rewarded by the indulgent puddings you can smother with Crème Chantilly. Oh, and the recipe? Well, it’s simply heavy cream, icing sugar and vanilla – ideally the vanilla should be left to infuse the cream overnight. Then whip and enjoy!

Champagne Tasting – Yet another indulgent experience is champagne tasting – in France, it just doesn’t get more indulgent to work your way through some of the finest bubbles. Accompanying by the perfect pairings of oysters, foie gras, and seasonal canapes, sommelier Jean-Cédric Thavard will give you a fresh perspective to old favourites like Comtes to Champagne, and classics like Henriot, while also introducing you innovative new wines like the wonderful rosé champagne Gamet.

Château Chantilly – Yet no visit is complete, without exploring the magnificent Domaine de Chantilly estate, and especially the opulent castle. Actually, to be precise there are two castles, the exquisite 16th-century Petit Château, and the adjacent Grand Château, which was rebuilt after the French Revolution, in the 19th century.

Now it is home to the extraordinary Condé Museum, housing the remarkable collections of art, books and furniture of  the great collector, Henri d ’Orléans, Duke of Aumale, son of the last King of France, Louis-Philippe.

Despite the immense collection (said to include the second-largest collection of paintings outside the Louvre) a visit to the chateau does not feel overwhelming. It is an enriching way to enjoy a morning, meandering through the royal suites, and galleries.

The artwork is presented on a very human scale, with an intimate feel, from the beautiful library to the unforgettable galleries. Most visitors head for the Rotunda, to marvel at the Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci by Piero di Cosimo and The Madonna of Loreto by Raphael. Yet my favourite was the Tribune, a remarkable space that pays homage to Florence’s Tribuna in the Uffizi Gallery. This small gallery offers an incredible panorama of art history, including Renaissance Botticelli and Titian; 17th and 18th-century Dutch masters including Van Dyck, to French neoclassical and romanticism.

Le Jardin d ’Hiver Bistro

All this culture works up an appetite, so head for Le Jardin d ’Hiver, the chic bistro at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, for simple, yet refined French cuisine. I tried the pâté en croute d ’Auberge, a classic French meat pie, before tucking into the most delicious duck with seasonal vegetables.

If you’re staying for a few days, the hotel can also book you tables at local restaurants for a flavour of Chantilly rural cuisine including the nearby Le Vertugadin, a restaurant a few minute’s walk away, run by the colourful, charismatic Michael Ejzenbaum and his wife Emilie.

Auberge du Jeu de Paume epitomises the best of French hospitality, where style and elegance are brought to life by a very welcoming team, fine food, and enchanting experiences.

The next time you head to the French capital, consider a fairytale escape from Paris to the charm of Chantilly.

Contact Details

Website: aubergedujeudepaumechantilly.fr
Address: Auberge du Jeu de Paume, 4 rue du Connétable 60500 Chantilly, France

Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly, 4, Rue du Connétable, Chantilly, Senlis, Oise, Hauts-de-France, Metropolitan France, 60500, France