My New Happy: Paris Is Always A Good Idea: Day Four

Friday, December 2, 2016

Paris Is Always A Good Idea: Day Four

Welcome to day four of my surprise trip to Paris.   If you missed them, you can catch up on days onetwo and three here.

Monday was bright, sunny and warm.  A perfect day to head out of Paris and into the French countryside!  Our destination was the town of Chantilly, to see the hunting palace and gardens of Prince de Condè.

Our guide book made it sound easy enough.  "From Gare du Nord, ask at any information desk for the next departure to Chantilly-Gouvieux on the Creil line."  Feeling confident, we hopped on the metro, made our way to Gare du Nord,...and had a small panic attack upon arrival.  Gare du Nord is the busiest railway station in Europe, serving 190 million travelers a year.  I'd never seen anything like it.  Thousands of people, dozens of platforms, and surprisingly, very few employees who spoke English.

After using our limited French to ask at several information desks, getting lost, and asking again, we finally found the correct platform.  Feeling very happy with ourselves, we boarded the next train that arrived and settled back for the 50 minute ride to Chantilly. Mistake one.  

Ten minutes later, the train pulled into the first station, and everybody in our car got off except us and two others.  I remember looking out the window and seeing a man gesturing at me, clearly wanting us to exit.  But I figured he must be confused (ha), so I ignored him.  Mistake two.

We pulled out and for twenty minutes moved verrrrryyyyy slowly down the tracks...right into a train yard.  And stopped.  And then nothing happened.  There was no platform, or ticket office, or another soul in sight.  The other two passengers looked just as confused as we were.

To make a long story short, we got on the wrong train.  Clearly.  

Luckily, a worker at the yard came along and was kind enough to help.  He didn't speak English, and when we showed him our ticket for Chantilly, he just laughed.  Oops.  He walked us down a long road to the entrance gates and turned us over to the security guard, who told us in very loud, slow French, to wait here.  A few minutes later a company van pulled up. The driver impatiently gestured at us to get in, and I'll admit we had a moment of hesitation. But really, what choice did we have? We had no idea where we were, or how to get back to Paris.  And Google Translate was NOT helping, no matter how loudly the security guard talked.

Fifteen minutes later we arrived at a welcome sight.  A train station.  Thank you, kind French people!
This is a good time to mention that, contrary to popular opinion, the French are very nice, friendly people.  As long as you make an attempt at their language, and don't act like an ugly American, they are quite lovely.

We bought a ticket back to Paris, found our platform at Gare de Nord, and patiently waited for the correct train this time.  Three hours later than originally planned, we finally arrived in Chantilly.

The town was charming...

And the thirty minute walk to the chateau led us through a beautiful forest...

That ended here, at the Petit Chateau.

Around the corner was the Grand Chateau, set on a beautiful reflecting pond.

We toured the art gallery, and then made our way to the Hameau de Chantilly, a small village built on the grounds. The thatched roof homes were used by the prince when he wanted to "play peasant", and although they appear simple on the outside, apparently were quite lavishly decorated.  Because you know, a prince pretending to rough it still needs his princely things.

There was a small cafè in the Hameau, and this is where we ate the most delicious food of our entire trip. Strawberries and Chantilly crème. Yep, it's in bold because it was that good.  Seriously, I still have dreams about this dish, and have been on a hunt to find some in the States.

On our way back to the train station, we passed a little library box. Between the crème and the books, I was ready to move to Chantilly.

But we needed to get back to the city, because we had special dinner plans.  Luckily, we got on the right train this time. Sheesh.

Our longtime friend and his daughter were on a three week graduation trip in Europe, and they happened to be in Paris on this night.  It was fun, and a little strange, to meet up with people we knew, so far from home.

And thus ended the day.  Stay tuned for day five, which includes two words:  Louis Vuitton.


  1. What a story! I'm so glad the French are so nice and helpful and got you safely back to a train station! The town is so pretty and how cute is that library box!

    Doused In Pink

    1. Thank goodness they helped us - we were out in the middle of nowhere!

  2. LOVE, thank heavens all ended up ok. Such a beautiful area and great pictures!! Love your sweet, smiling faces. Happy weekend sweetness, soak up a great one!!

  3. So glad to see the pictures behind that story, I definitely want to visit there!

  4. Ah well, what is a trip to a foreign country without a little adventure? LOL

    Been there, done that. Except I was on a train, told to get off and then my luggage left with the train! I've never seen it again but spent another 5 months travelling around without any luggage or clothing. Could I do that now? Ha ha! No way!

    The spot looks lovely. Did you buy something at LV? I hope so. As a souvenir of this momentous trip.


    1. Exactly, you have to come back with some stories! I can't imagine not having my clothing for five months - ah, to be young again!

  5. I bet that was terrifying at first. What an amazing trip so far. I can't imagine how excited you were to finally get there.

  6. Oh my goodness, you will never forget all of that! What a story! Glad you finally got there and what a beautiful place!

  7. Lana, it sounds like it was incredibly wonderful... I know other people who said the same thing you did about French people, they are really quite nice if you're nice to them xox

  8. Your posts make me tear up. I really adore everything that is France. My lovely Marie great uncle died in history concentration was Napoleon and the French Revolution. Ah, Paris, I love you! I'm inspired to take a trip back there now!

    1. Oh, you should go! The hamlet in Chantilly inspired Marie Antoinette to build hers at Versailles!

  9. Strawberries and Chantilly crème, please!! I wouldn't know where to find it, but when you do, let me know! I once had the best strawberries and creme I'd ever had in Calistoga, CA, so maybe that's the place.
    I LOVE the thatched roof homes!

    1. Aren't those homes so charming? I wish we could have gone inside. I can still taste that dessert!

  10. Wow! What an amazing adventure and how fun to meet up with friends in Paris!!!


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