Shearwin's in Europe 2018 travel blog

Monash Centre Visit

Chantilly

Chantilly

The entrance


We awoke at 0800hrs in a better mood but determined to clear the Ibis as soon as we could which was 0845 hrs after a quick shower.

We took the shuttle train from Orly Sud to Orly Ouest to pickup our rental from Hertz. Hoping to beat the slow queues of these rental companies we were at the desk at 0915 hrs. Unfortunately, we had booked the car by voucher for 1000hrs and by contract we could not complete until the paid monies were transferred to Hertz at 1000 hrs. Thankfully, the first attendant I approached was more response at 1000hrs and all documentation was completed in 20 mins. He had allocated us a small car which was an automatic and greatly appreciated. Our objective for the day was to visit the Monash Centre at the Australian War Memorial at Villers Bretonneux and then the Chateau Chantilly.

Clearing Orly which is under major reconstruction proved a lot easier than expected, however the traffic out of the city was very heavy and we crawled for the first hour at an average 30 kph. We completed the 154 km drive which was primarily on the motorway and were at the memorial at 1300hrs.

We had a quick snack and drink at the Monash Centre Cafeteria before taking the audio visual tour. The British guide managing the historical presentation was helpful however the French lass attending the cafeteria appeared at sorts; not a good image. We found the centre impressive and the historical account excellent from the perspective of both the story and the technical presentation. We were more than pleased to have revisited this great monument and to have seen what $100 Million can do to preserve the history of our First World War soldiers. On the way out of Villers B, we searched out the Melbourne Hotel where we had lunch in 1980; it is now no more than a bar, however, the village is very much larger and unfortunately less “villagey” than it was then.

Once again our drive to Chantilly to investigate the chateau was primarily on the motorway for it’s 104 km. Once we moved away from the motorway and approached Chantilly, the vegetation became thicker and greener and revealed their very much Robin Hood style. The villages were also of their original style of French character.

Having seen so many of these chateaus from Versailles, Vincomte etc, etc we were quite surprised at how we both thought wow of Chateau Chantilly as soon as we rounded the roundabout and cleared the trees. It was probably the panoramic view of house, lake and spreading gardens that appeared suddenly as we drove down the cobbled road that caused Kaye to ask there and then for a photo.

We had few options to stop and before we knew it we were in the town of Chantilly and parked in the only carpark in front of the first cafe.

We walked to the main gates and as we approached we were offered free tickets to enter by a guide who was finishing for the day and had spares; the offer took us by surprise and it turned out to be most generous.

We toured the house and the gardens until about 1815hrs absolutely saturated with what we had seen. The house is in trust and financially sound and thus well maintained. The rooms to view are extensive and the decorations even more so. Reputed to having the second largest art collection after the louvre it was mind blowing just trying to take it in. We must have said a dozen times that we should have allowed ourselves more of it; a full day. The audio alone would have taken hours to listen to if we had been able to complete it. I have many a photo to try to remember the quality viewing. It was an amazing find that left last evenings drama’s behind.

Exhausted, we returned to the car, had a glass of wine in the nearby cafe, noticed we were in a paid parking area, had not paid and had no ticket before heading the 25 km back to our hotel at CDG.

We were now back to reality as we needed to refill the car for return in the morning. This is not a pleasant exercise in this area as there are so few stations on so many twisting roads driven by frantic french drivers that the dumb tourist is really a rabbit in headlights. The task however was achieved showing some experience of the situation and we were at the Rossy Residhome by 1930hrs.

Our luck continued for the day with an upgrade to a lovely suite ( too big for two for one night and for the same cost as last nights horror) which went well with our dinner on the terrace. Kaye had the buffet with a main of fish and I finished the trip as I started with a Steak Tartare ( nice but not as good as the first). We wasted little time after seeking sleep for the long trip home tomorrow. So here ends a great six weeks; it was one of our best!



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