So you’re planning a trip to Paris and while you’re there, you want to see a castle, a “chateau.” But even thinking about trying to brave the crowds at Versailles makes your stomach churn. Is there somewhere else you can go that’s easily accessible by public transportation from Paris? And not too far away?
The answer is a resounding YES. The answer is Chantilly. It’s about 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, from central Paris. The easy way to get there is to take the TER which takes 20-25 minutes (2 stops). The TER is a local train run by SNCF, the national train company. Tickets can be bought easily on a couple of different apps- Trainline or Omio. Once you arrive at the Chantilly-Gouvieux station, you can catch a local bus to get to the chateau (or there are often taxis at the train station as well).
There were two chateaus that were part of the estate- the first and smaller (Petit Chateau) was built around 1560. The second, larger chateau was virtually destroyed in the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 19th Century for Henri D’Orleans, the Duke of Aumale.
It now houses, among other things, the Musée Condé, which houses the second largest collection of antique paintings in France after the Louvre. The Duke required that the paintings remain in exactly the same order and arrangement as when he lived there (so they are in an order that reflects his taste, rather than chronologically). Tickets are 17 euros and if you time your visit to include the tour of the private apartments, it’s well worth the extra 5 euros.
http://www.domainedechantilly.com/en/accueil/chateau/ is the website (there is a French and an English option- look for the button on the top right side of the screen to toggle between them).
There are also a variety of additional things to see in Chantilly as well as special events at the Chateau itself. One website I found that has a good summary of other things on offer is Culture Trip https://theculturetrip.com/europe/france/articles/the-10-best-things-to-do-in-chantilly-france/