Works of art of the automobile kind meet at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance

Where do works of art of the automobile kind meet? At the equally grand Château de Chantilly at this year’s Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille


The superfluou­s is very necessary!” said Voltaire, the French philosophe­r and writer. And nowhere is this more evident than among the splendour and historic grandeur of the Château de Chantilly, rebuilt after the French Revolution by Henri d’Orleans duc d’Aumale in the late 1870s to the new design of Honore Daumet on the site of the original dating back to 1484!

Set amid the large forests of France 30km north of Paris, Chantilly is the Newmarket or Kentucky of France, a mecca for horse breeding and racing. Indeed, the Château features the most remarkable stables imaginable. The Augean Stables of the legend of Hercules would be hard pressed to equal the splendour of the equine quarters here. Re-watch the 1985 film AView To A Kill starring Roger Moore as James Bond, after visiting and you realise that the setting for the horse auction scene is not fictional at all!

But for the car lover even more importantl­y it is the home of Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille. There cannot be many better settings than the gardens of the Grand Château in which to display a selection of some of the most artistic automobile­s of all time. Very apt as an Italian tribunal in Bologna recently ruled that a car indeed can be classified legally as a “work of art”.

Over 120 cars in 17 classes were gathered together on the manicured lawns on one of the hottest days in French record. The bright sunshine reflected harshly off the gleaming metal as the

members of the jury, including such luminaries as designer Marc Newson CBE, supermodel asmin Le Bon was it just a coincidenc­e that her rock star husband of Duran Duran fame sang the title song to that James Bond movie?), and Coldplay’s bassist Guy Berryman, who’s also a qualified mechanical engineer. Celebrity car buffs, true, but neverthele­ss real car experts in their own right, shoulder to shoulder with the design directors of Peugeot, Volkswagen, Bugatti, Renault, writers, historians, pilots, and collectors from all parts of the globe.

This event might not yet be as wellknown as Pebble Beach or Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, but in only its fifth iteration, Chantilly Arts & Elegance is pushing them very hard. Truly living up to its name, the public were treated to cars and gardens, cars and carriages, cars and paintings, cars and château, and cars and elegance. Invited guests, meanwhile, were frted and pampered to the very point of incredulit­y – a welcome champagne dinner on the lawns; a rally to Louis XV’s Château de Compiègne; a gala black tie dinner in the aforementi­oned stables where horses galloped and danced in the aisles and five-star chefs presented an outlandish haute cuisine extravagan­za accompanie­d by the finest wines; a super-buffet in the castle itself under the watchful gaze of paintings by Poussin, Gerard, Delacroix et al, all the while being supported by the bubbles of a seemingly never ending stream of Champagne Castelnau Réserve. No wonder the aristocrac­y lost their heads in this part of the world!

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