Day 4 Itinerary: Royal Abbey Chaalis, Chateau de Chantilly, small city of Fecamps, Etretat, Caen
Ok I’m again splitting day 4 up into 2 posts. The first 2 stops are less than 30 minutes outside of Paris so consequently totally doable if you are staying in Paris. The other places were along the coast of Normandy and let’s be honest I took a million pics in Etretat so it needed its own post.
So to start with, another early morning at 6:30 AM to catch a shuttle organized through the hotel (wasn’t attempting the train again) to the airport to pick up our rental car. We grabbed a quick mcdonalds breakfast at the airport and our rental car then were on our way out of the city around 8:45. First stop: The Royal Abbeye Chaalis which I mistakenly thought opened at 9… ya it opens at 10 so we had like 30 minutes to kill when we got there.
So to kill time, we went and explored the adorable little town Ermononville (only 10 minutes away from the abbey) The first picture is of the Grand Chateau Ermononville which is a hotel/restaurant and the photo just above is of the beautiful little park space across from the chateau. Despite it being almost 10 AM, NOWHERE was open yet and the town was pretty deserted.
I definitely found myself wandering around singing “Little town… It’s a quiet village.” (You know the rest)
A picturesque little Dam in the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Park. There were also loads of sheep and geese out there with pretty little bridges and the waterway.
Wandering through the town. It took us a while to get the hang of the French roads, better recognized as obstacle courses. (see those random little barriers that act as speed bumps… as in you have to slow down to weave in between them) The sign on my right indicates who has the right of way should 2 cars get to this same spot at the same time. (In my case, I’d have to wait since I have the smaller RED arrow)
Cute little entrance to the town of Ermononville
Finally. It was 10. And the gates had opened. And we were legit the only ones there. lol
So a little history on the Royal Abbeye de Chaalis: Louis VI founded the monastery of Chaalis on 10th January 1137 in memory of Charles the Good, Count of Flanders who had been massacred at Bruges.
This abbey’s church was consecrated in 1219. Almost immediately after its foundation, the abbey became incontestably renowned largely due to the quality of its priors or abbots. ( as in… it was a pretty wealthy abbey) The old part of the abbey (above) fell into ruin a long time ago but its fate was sealed in ruin with the French Revolution. The top pic however it of the more modern Abbey which is now housing an art museum.
Wandering around the ruined abbey
Feeling small in the huge world that is history
Posing in the old Abbey church with the new abbey/art museum in the background
The coolest gargoyles ever. They were so random! Like at least one animal representation of each kingdom. This is the smaller Abbot’s chapel which is one of the Medieval buildings so it’s amazing it has stood the test of time so well!
A mermaid and a lizard/ dragon thing?
Looking at the backside of the old church ruins
Let’s see a turtle, a snail, something else, and then an alligator in this one
The art museum aspect of the grounds didn’t open until 11 and we still had a lot of stops to make on our drive so unfortunately we didn’t get to see the inside of any of the buildings. I bet this smaller chapel was beautiful since it had a lot of stained glass.
Picturesque rose garden beyond the Abbot’s chapel and mansion
The front side of the old Abbey. In this perspective you can see the original building was quite huge as the left side was not even the make up for the larger chapel.
Pretty path of trees on the Abbey de Chaalis grounds
Abbeye de Chaalis Practical Information:
Hours: Park, Rose Garden, and Medieval Abbey are open everyday from 10-6PM
Castle Museum is open everyday from 11-6PM in the summer? season however in the Winter season (Nov 12-Feb 28) it is only open Sundays 10:30-5:30
Cost: For all parts of the grounds and museum full price is 8 euros, for just the outdoor grounds (what we did) it would be 4 euros.
*Reduced rate of students is 6 euros or 3 euros respectively
*The Abbey is included in the Museum Pass
*Dogs are allowed on leash in the park 🙂
Then it was a short 15-20 minute drive to our next stop: The Chateau de Chantilly
Chateau de Chantilly Practical Information:
Hours: High season (March 25-Nov 1):everyday from 10-6 (8PM for the park)
Low season (Nov-March 25) everyday EXCEPT TUESDAY from 10:30-5 (6 PM for the park)
Cost: For the entire park, chateau, stables, horse museum it is 17 euros full rate, 10 euros reduced
There is an Equestrian spectacle show mutliple times during the day so for the entire park and the show it is 30 euros or 24 euros for reduced fair
Car Park costs: 4 euros for the day, accepts credit card
*Equestrian spectacular shows go from April 2 to November 5
* The standard domain ticket still includes a 30 min dressage demonstration given by stable riders (check program for times)
*Reduced fair: for children aged 3-17, students, people with disabilities
*Chateau domain is included in Museum Pass, however the horse spectacle is not
*The Audio guide is included in all domain tickets
Between the fact they had equestrian shows AND DOG STATUES everywhere. I could just tell this chateau and I were going to hit it off
Dog statue 1
The main entrance to the Chateau/ Conde Museum
Dog statue number 2 (my favorite one)
Awesome moat/ reflection pool surrounding the chateau!
OK so a bit of history: The Grand Chateau was actually destroyed in the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s (so it is relatively new construction compared to some other Chateaux we will be visiting) The museum of Conde (housed within the Chateau) is considered one of the finest art galleries in France (after the Louvre) and specializes in French paintings and book illuminations from teh 15th and 16th centuries. The original mansion was built in 1528-1531 for the Montmorency family. In 1632 following the death of Henri II, it was passed to the Grand Conde (his mother was Charlotte de Montmorency)
*Also this is more modern history but James Bond fans should recognize this chateau from the movie “A View to Kill.”
The inside of the chapel ceiling… We love ceilings
The incredible library that houses over 1500 manuscripts, 17,500 printed volumes, and some 300 Medieval manuscripts. Some of the most notable are on display to look at down the center. It was certainly amazing to look at such old documents and see how colorful and fun they made them. lol
The tour takes you through the grand apartments, library, and several art gallery halls before spitting you out in a gift shop (typical lol) and to the rear of the chateau. The reflection photos are always a favorite of mine 🙂
The gardens were pretty extensive however after doing Versailles… well let’s just say no gardens would satisfy again so we did a quick round about tour before heading out. Places to be and all that…. We didn’t make it down to the stables or the museum of horse but there is a small train/ tram that takes you around the grounds (so if you would likes to see those things, look for the small train!) There were many paintings and statues of dogs throughout and the stable/ race track is supposedly like the Versailles of stables. According to legend, Louis, Duc de Bourbon and Prince of Conde, believed he would be reincarnated as a horse after his death so in 1719 he asked the architect to build stables suitable for his rank…. as a horse.
Day 4 costs to this point:
Shuttle from hotel to airport: 36 euros for 2 people
Mcdonalds breakfast in airport: $10 euros
Rental Car: Total cost for 10 days is $324 so just about $32/ day
Abbey de Chaalis: Free with Museum pass/ free parking
Chateau de Chantilly: Free with Museum pass/ 4 euros for parking
Hotdogs and a coke to drink from a stand outside the chateau: 10 euros
Total for day 4 THUS FAR: $92 for 2 people