France

CHRISTMAS AT THE CHÂTEAUX

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Christmas in France might look a little different this year, but as usual many of France’s stunning castles are decking their halls to bring some much-needed fairytale cheer to the festive season. Here are two easy day trips from Paris to experience these cherished landmarks in a whole new light.

Equestrian extravagan­za

A little bit of the North Pole comes to the Domaine de Chantilly, with its worldfamou­s stables, this winter, transformi­ng the château into the grandest Santa’s grotto. The estate welcomes le Pere Noël for over a month of festivitie­s throughout December and into early January.

Christmas trees stand proudly throughout the domaine and magical decoration­s adorn the château’s staircases and furniture. Young visitors can wear special fancy dress costumes including musketeers and princesses to really bring their Christmas visit to life. Of course, an encounter with le

Pere Noël is an unmissable part of any child’s visit to the estate.

The highlight for many guests is the unforgetta­ble equestrian performanc­es at the Grandes Écuries (Great Stables) and

Christmast­ime sees an extraspeci­al show concocted. Last year’s guests were transfixed by Chantilly’s own Christmass­y take on Alice in Wonderland, starring an enchanted carousel. domainedec­hantilly.com

Light fantastic

For the 15th year, Vaux-leVicomte will be transforme­d into a winter wonderland, complete with grand illuminati­ons. The façade of the 17th-century Baroque beauty will dazzle with its colourful projection­s displaying an eightminut­e-long snapshot of the château’s rich history.

Its pretty gardens will also host light displays to capture your attention. The centrepoin­t is the Christmas-tree lined pathway leading up to the entrance that makes for the perfect photo opportunit­y. Why not discover the great outdoors here further by taking a horsedrawn carriage ride around the grounds?

Afterwards, warm up inside the château next to roaring fires as you tour the sumptuous decoration­s in the state rooms, the scent of cinnamon and gingerbrea­d in the air. It’s the perfect way to lift spirits. vaux-le-vicomte.com

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 ??  ?? Clockwise from top: Magnificen­t staircases at Chantilly; Vauxle-Vicomte’s light show; its festive table settings; a winter wonderland at Vaux-leVicomte
Clockwise from top: Magnificen­t staircases at Chantilly; Vauxle-Vicomte’s light show; its festive table settings; a winter wonderland at Vaux-leVicomte

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