We have a wonderful stay and visit with Nicolas and his family. Even though it has only been 18 months since our last visit, Emiline, their daughter has grown a lot and turned even more into a young Princess. She seriously takes on the instructions of the very enthusiastic, young guide we meet when we decide to head out to Lac de Grand-Lieu . This is a huge bird reserve of 650 hectares and the guide tells us to stay silent as we approach the large hide. Emiline makes sure that we follow the instructions as we walk there. There is a vast number and variety of water birds taking advantage of the conditions here and we spend a good hour watching them interact.
We have so much to talk about and catch up on , topics ranging from future plans on life and work and family, a little politics and the new French president but also importantly we share lots of foodie stories and recipes. Nicolas and Marie make some wonderful treats for us and after our visit to the reserve we have expanded enough energy to sit down to a great dinner starting with a sushi salmon marinated in a deliscious marinade and homemade veggie burgers made from scratch including baking the buns! Lastly we compare notes on the amazing flourless hazelnut tort that Nicolas made, as it is one of our favourites from home too.
The place we found to stay in turns out prefect with great hosts and a super comfortable bed, just what we need after the long travel. The owners, rightly are very proud of their garden and we get a guided tour of the place.
It is our last day before departure now, so Nicolas shows off a local bistro with a very passionate chef. We settle for a mixture of two and three courses. We have to agree a very nice, creative menu it is.
Our journey to Paris was meant to be fast tracked by staying on the paying autoroutes, but I get an early warning that there is roadworks ahead and in an attempt to jump off the freeway and avoid the blockage I mislead André into taking the wrong intersection of highways. We are now heading south again Oops! André is very magnanimous about the error, we recalculate and without too much delay jump back on the road. Unfortunately there is a combination of roadworks and an accident, so for 7km we drive at 5km / hour. It makes our arrival to Chatilly at about 9pm.
We had booked this place before we left home, to finish off with a nice French accent. It does not disappoint and to top off the treat there is Brisco, a very affectionate Golden Retreiver.
We stock up on cuddles from Brisco and after dinner which is about 10.30pm we head out for a walk to see the town by the light of a thin sliver of moon. There is no-one on the streets, we enjoy the place to ourselves right to the edge of the forest. Then there is some rustling sounds , we turn around and it is our last wildlife experience for the trip 🙂
Our host asks us if we have come to Chantilly to visit the Chateaux, well we must admit to our ignorance as the only thing we thought we knew about Chantilly was that it must be the home of Chantilly cream.
We head out after the final and rather major pack to the Chateaux next morning. The history of the Chateaux Chantilly is quite impressive. It started being built in the 16th century and took another 100 years to complete. Pretty much totally destroyed during the French Revolution it took the Duke d’Aumale to rebuild it in the 1800’s. It is amazing!!
The stables alone now house the second largest Museum of Art second only to the Louvre. They still have amazing dressage performances and there is a huge amount of polo playing in the surrounding area. It looks very well off.
We have a morning exploring the grounds and the castle and then head into town to see if we can sample some original Chantilly cream. Success served with a nice lemon tart.