The Chantilly stables

Built thanks to a generous donor, the Prince of Condé, Duke of Bourbon, this amazing equestrian complex is, after Versailles, undoubtedly the most beautiful monument ever dedicated to the horse, with its remarkable luxury fully etched in stone and lavish sculpted decoration and interior amenities. A former disciple and collaborator of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Jean Aubert, designed it and then built it from 1719 to 1740. In many ways, he was inspired by the Versailles stables but was able to achieve originality, both in the distribution of the building and its location in a prominent position away from the château with which it maintains a purely visual connection. The lack of subordination to the mansion is unusual and was criticized as contrary to decorum and reason. This location enabled placing the long main façade to the south, on the edge of a large clearing of about fifty hectares. In 1843, a racecourse was built at this deforested area dedicated from the outset to equestrian exercises, which now hosts meetings as prestigious as the French Derby, inaugurated in 1836, and the Prix de Diane, inaugurated in 1843.

Everywhere one can see how equestrian practices have been annexed by art and how they bear symbolic, utilitarian, performance and economic functions.

Daniel Roche, preface to Les Écuries des châteaux français [The Stables at French Châteaux], by Pascal Liévaux, Paris, Éditions du patrimoine, 2005, 305p.

The plan designed by the architect looked to bring together in one place the Duke's horses and carriages and his packs of dogs and numerous related servants. Inspired by the Château de Maisons's famous stables built in the mid-17th century by François Mansart, Aubert designed, on one side, the housing for horses, and on the other, a large domed riding area whereas the other services based around the courses to the rear. The two double stables house two hundred forty stalls under a barrel vault, which furnishes the interior with a powerful sense of the monumental.

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