France

Château de Chantilly and Notre Dame Light Show

With limited daylight hours in October, we got up way before the sunrise (8:30 AM) to start our 4-hours journey back to Paris. It was very foggy and dark when we left Mont Saint-Michel. As the sun slowly raised, the fogs got cleared and we arrived at Chantilly just at lunchtime. There was plenty of parking near the Italian restaurant – Il Gritti.

We were seated at the back of the restaurant where it was very cozy and warm. Jason ordered the shrimp risotto and it tasted creamy but not much seafood taste. The shrimps they used were my favorite Mediterranean shrimps so the ingredients used were fresh and good.

I ordered the shrimp pasta and it was very good with crushed pistachios, first time I had this combination and it really added a crunchiness texture. The pasta itself was creamy type, not much of seafood taste. I couldn’t ask for more in France 😉

Our Italian lunch was overall good and cost $148 for five of us. Once we finished lunch, we continued our drive to Château de Chantilly. I wanted to show my mom a French chateau so I picked Château de Chantilly since I never been to it. After some confusion on finding where to park, we arrived at the chateau. There was some local market going on and a horse racing day? so the parking lot (a dirty/grass area) was packed.

We queued up to purchase the admission ticket around $23 per person. The chateau’s reflection, one of the famous spot:

A garden fair, it looked like, inside the chateau’s ground and packed with locals.

We walked around the lake to the front entrance of the chateau, the sun was out and it was actually warm 🙂 The sky was clear with no cloud at all. The parking lot was packed but the crowds in the chateau wasn’t bad so I guess most of the people were there for the garden fair. The chateau is located right near town and literally next to the road, it is much different than the chateau I have imagined in the middle of the woods like the ones I visited in Loire Valley. However, the exterior design looked very beautiful.

Inside looked like a gallery filled with paintings and the stained glass ceiling provides natural lights to light them up. The bold color of maroon made the golden frames of the paintings really stand out. Doesn’t this look like an art gallery instead?

Another room where it is darker. Those “carpets” hanging on the wall are huge!

I really like the ceilings of the chateau designed to give more natural light. A closer look, those are paintings surrounding the octagonal shaped ceiling.

I love the colors on this ceiling painting, the blue sky and the angels.

While on the ground floor is this mosaic artwork depicting hunting?

A collection of porcelain.

The grand chandeliers, furniture, and golden wall decors that a chateau has to have:

A library inside the chateau filled with precious manuscripts:

I love this circular staircase leading down to the chateau’s gift shop.

Inside the chateau’s chapel with another magnificent ceiling.

Château de Chantilly is not the biggest chateau I have visited, it is actually quite small compared to others, but I loved the natural lights inside. The interior as well as the exterior are very beautiful to spend a few hours in.

After Château de Chantilly, we returned our rental car at the airport and then took a taxi to our hotel in Paris center – InterContinental Hotels Paris – Le Grand. We waited at the taxi rank and told the dispatcher that we have 5 of us, it was a bit of a wait for a van type of taxi. One thing that was changed from our last visit to Paris is that the taxi now have a flat rate to Paris center which is awesome for tourists so we don’t need to worried of getting scammed. It is €50 for up to 4 people and additional passenger at
€4 each from CDG to anywhere in Paris center north of the Seine. For 5 of us, it make sense for a taxi because public transportation is not that much of a saving.

We arrived at the InterContinental Hotels Paris – Le Grand where the external walls were covered by scaffolds due to renovation. The interior is as grand as you would imagine an InterContinental to be. Three of us checked in for the three rooms we reserved, although I had contacted the hotel to request that our three rooms to be close together, I felt like they didn’t even make a note of it. We ended up having my mom’s room at a different wing of the hotel while my brother and our room were one floor apart. My mom’s room was at the 5th floor and looked more spacious, perhaps a one category upgrade. My room and my brother’s room was the same layout but different floor.

The bathroom…I hate those half glass bathtub design, water always tend to get out and make the floor wet.

Our room was spacious at Paris standard….I remembered our room at the
Westin Paris Vendome  years ago, it was so tiny that there was no room to even walk around the bed. We received a free bottle of champagne and a plate of sweets (super sweet).

After settling down, we met at the lobby and walked 17 minutes to Louvre, just about sunset time. It certainly brought back memories…it has been 6 years since we first visited Paris! It didn’t change much, always filled with tourists even on October.

We have a reservation at The Reminet at 7:30 PM so right after sunset, we made the way there with a few stops for photos.

When I was planning the France birthday weekend getaway, I asked Jason which restaurant he wanted to go back to or try all new restaurants. He said he wanted to go back to The Reminet where he had the best oysters so far. I made the reservation at The Folk with 50% off a la carte. The Folk website is my favorite restaurant reservation website, it really saved us money in the expensive Paris.

With 5 people, we were able to try out different appetizers:

After 6 years, Jason has the oysters again but this time it wasn’t as amazing as the first time…maybe different types of oysters? Nevertheless, those were very fresh according to Jason.

Foie gras – yummmmy!

I had duck breast again but it was drier than how I like it.

Our dinner for 5 cost $183 after 50% off!!! Right after dinner, we “ran” to Notre Dame because there was a special event going on – Dame de Coeur. I found out about this special event from TripAdvisor and it happened to be on the week that we were there so I made reservations (free by the way but they limited the number of tickets so you need to reserve at their website to get the tickets by email).

There were two sessions, one earlier in the evening and one at 9:30 PM. I reserved the 9:30 PM one so it’ll be after our dinner. Notre Dame is always packed but it was more pack than I imagined…we were literally squeezing to get in. The logistic was poor that they should’ve let people in earlier and not wait till last minute with thousands of people trying to get in this small entrance where they check the ticket and security check on all bags. This was how crowded:

After waiting and waiting, the light show finally start but the story was narrated in French only, no English so we have no idea what it was about. However, the lights and graphics projected on Notre Dame were spectacular!

The light show was pretty long, I would guess 20-30 minutes? After it was done, I thought it was the end of it but no……there was another 15-20 minutes of wait for the line slowly progressing to the entrance into Notre Dame. The interior lit up with LEDs and it was amazing! I had been in Notre Dame 6 years ago and this time at night was very magical and mysterious. Once the hall filled with people, the door closed and then a short light show start…thus the reason for the slow moving line. Once the light show is done and people made their way out at another exit, the door will re-open to let another group of people in. You probably never seen Notre Dame at night like this!

As a photographer, I was very lucky to photograph this event. Was it worth the wait and all those crowds? For me, yes! By the time we got out of Notre Dame, it was like 11:30 PM!!! They closed the streets around the Notre Dame area so it was hard to even get a taxi. It was a long walk back to the hotel and we were all exhausted. It wasn’t too bad though since the City of Lights offered many beautiful buildings at night to see as we walked through the grand boulevards.

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