A town that claims to have invented whipped cream and there are horses everywhere and you can traipse around the chateau gardens for hours?
Sign me up.
Chantilly is a gorgeous little town 45 minutes out of Gare du Nord.
So, legend has it that one of the Princes of Condé, Louis Henri, believed that he would be reincarnated as a horse. Therefore, he must have a stable built that was much more palace than stable. That way, a horse of his status would not be living in squalor. So the legend goes.
Chantilly became the place for all things horses: The town is centered around a turf race track, there is the Museum of the Horse at the former Royal Stables (which may or may not be Henri's current home) and a grand Chateau that has the largest collection of art in France outside of the Louvre. Those Condés did not fool around. We're talking Raphael and Botticelli here.
Oh, and gardens. Lots and lots of gardens. You could walk all day and still not see it all.
Oddly/Fantastically enough, there were only about 8 other people there visiting. It was ghostly, yet made it seem somehow regal to be walking the estate by yourself, and walking the galleries and libraries by yourself, and....I could get used to this.