special places – 3

Chantilly.

It’s north of Paris, not far from Beauvais. Easily accessible from Scotland courtesy of Ryanair. There now – “courtesy” and “Ryanair” in the same sentence. Anything is possible with the right mental attitude.

It is special for three reasons.

First, the château. It is lovely. So are the immediate grounds it sits in, and then you have the surrounding estate as well. Paintings by masters to be seen inside. Deer to be seen in the gardens.

the chateau

Second, it is the equestrian centre for France. The racecourse is right next to the château. A stunning backdrop as the horses come round the final bend and into the finishing straight.

finishing straight

Last. It is the scene of one of my most embarrassing travel moments. I went looking for lunch before the first race. I went into the stand, and found the part marked “cafeteria”. A self service place – ideal I thought. I made my selections and went to the caisse. She scorned my €s and demanded my voucher. I demanded to pay by cash. She refused and demanded my voucher. As the temperature rose, the guy behind me explained I was in the staff canteen for jockeys, trainers and stablehands…

parade ring

Ah well, the staff returned the food to the display cabinets and I headed upstairs to the 5 star resto with white linen, pretentious waiters and views of the course. Prices to match.

© iain taylor 2011

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