Chantilly Arts and Elegance 2015
Since 2014 and its first edition, the Chantilly Arts and Elegance 2015 Richard Mille has already proved to be one of the BEST car events in France. Organized by Peter Auto (the company behind many other incredible events such as the Tour Auto), the Chantilly Arts & Elegance is an ode to “la joie de vivre à la française” – the art of living the good life, french style (for lack of a better translation). In the lovely and very french setting of the Château de Chantilly, you can find the most classy and elegant cars in the world, very much like being in a museum, but among beautiful gardens. In only two years, it has already become an unavoidable event in my calendar.
The 2015 Edition wasn’t a disappointment. I met up with a bunch of friends in Paris on sunday morning, very early, and we all left together for Chantilly. On the way, we had seen a bunch of nice cars on the road, going to the event. It was pretty cold that day, the morning dew sort of soaked my brown leather shoes. Wait – leather shoes on a sunday? That’s not your usual style Alex! Indeed, we all “dressed-up” nicely for the occasion. They do mention a dress-code, and everyone plays the game = men dress very dandy and classy, whereas the ladies look spectacular in their dresses, most wearing beautiful hats. It’s kind of like Ascot in the UK. The Chantilly Arts & Elegance isn’t only about cars, it’s about an atmosphere: we are in a lovely place with lovely people. The “art of living” à la française I was mentioning earlier.
Arrivals & best-of – Chantilly Arts and Elegance 2015
The cars slowly started to arrive on site, both participants as well as visitors (who sometimes could have been participants too!). The gates of the castle weren’t open yet, but the parking areas & club areas were getting more and more crowded, as everyone was starting to arrive, slowly but surely. One of the greatest sights I saw that morning was a red Lamborgini Miura & a black Lamborghini Countach convoying together to the event. That’s the kind of thing that can only make you happy in the morning. That’s how you start a good day and you know it’s only going to get bette from now on. Other cars included, among countless others, a pretty neat red Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona (and a yellow one). I don’t know exactly why, but I really like that car – though it’s not my favorite Ferrari classic either.
When the gates opened, it meant it was time to rush inside to go and take a look at all the jewels on the lawns without too many people around. Though I’m being unfair: the place is so big and the cars are very far from each other. You really have a lot of space to take your shots & enjoy each car – though this doesn’t leave much space for “group photos” or “combos”. The place is immense. You can’t help but feel tiny and powerless near the magnificent Château de Chantilly, one of our national jewels. The setting fits so well with all those marvellous cars, which all represent the epitome of elegance (my vocabulary might be a bit limited when I speak english haha). There were a bunch of Ferrari 275 GTB lined-up. First “OMGWTF moment” of the day, without a doubt. There were some dealerships & brands showcasing stuff, it’s really an incredible place. And the day had only started!
The cars from the show were mind-boggling. So many rare and exclusive classics. In case you hadn’t understood it by now, the Chantilly Arts and Elegance 2015 isn’t about modern cars. Ford GT40, Jaguar XKSS, Ferrari 166MM… And so many more. Cars that shaped automotive history. I’ll be honest with you: I don’t feel I’m qualified enough to talk to you about older / classic cars, at least not enough to go in details or to the level of demand a connoisseur might require. I have so much to learn still. I can only appreciate them for what they are and what they represent, understand how beautiful and important they are and how they have impacted the automotive industry over time. Which is why I won’t be going too much into details about each and every car – not only would it be too long (and maybe boring?) to read for you, but I think there are better sources to read from about classic cars. I’m merely here trying to relate my personal experience, sharing anecdotes & stuff that happened, and how all of this felt, so you can somehow relive it from behind your screen, wherever & whenever you are.
Seeing a Ferrari 250 GT California (after seeing one being sold for +13 million euros during the Artcurial sale of the Baillon collection) was a treat. There even was a magnificent silver Ferrari 250 GTO. Out of the 36 units that have been built through history, I had already seen this one on various occasions (lucky me, right?). But it was the first time I saw it with its new livery. It used to have the famous “Scuderia Francorchamps” livery (aka “historic livery”) with the yellow stripe on the hood. It now bears a french-flag stripe. How fitting, don’t you think? The Ferrari 250 GTO is one of the most expensive cars in the world, and seeing one is always a privilege. I had already seen that Ferrari 250 GT SWB with the odd red&green livery (I love it) during the 2014 Le Mans Classic with the “250 Tornano a casa” tour.
This absolutely stunning emerald green Ferrari 275 GTB also took me by surprise, it looked like carved diamond under the sun. If you’re into classic cars, you can’t help but love this! It simply looked spectacular. I’m not saying it’s the best of show or anything, but you know. It’s one of those things you particularily remember after the day is over.
Modernity – Chantilly Arts and Elegance 2015
The next duo spoke a bit more to me. Because they’re “sort of” modern, but above all EPIC in every way. The McLaren F1 GTR known for its very original paintjob inspired by french-artist César, parked right next to the Mercedes-Benz CLK LM (famously unique car that looks a LOT like a CLK GTR AMG, but is NOT. It gets everyone confused, basically). At about that time I tried making a Facebook LIVE video for you guys to share this magnificent moment. But the data was so bad, it failed miserably 5 times in a row (it kept disconnecting after 10 seconds). Eventually I gave up. That’s probably the only downside of the day, if you can consider it like that.
Seeing these two for me is quite special. Both cars represent an era of motorsport: the 90s. Only missing one is the Porsche 911 GT1. The three were THE mean machines from the past that ruled every track, and most importantly, raced during the 24 Hours of Le Mans, leading to many tough battles. Everyone remembers that video of the McLaren F1 GTR battling a 911 GT1 – though people might have more vivid memories of the CLR (“CLK GTR race version”) driven by Mark Webber who had a huge accident and flipped many times after the nose lifted on the Hunnaudières straight line.
After having made a first tour of most of the cars inside (though I admittedly overlooked the “old Formula One” cars section – guilty as charged), it was time to head outside. Indeed, the show doesn’t only happen inside at the event, but on the parking lots as well. Many nice cars show up, wether they’re classics or more modern supercars. Obviously, I’m more of a supercar kind of guy, therefore I mainly take pictures of modern cars in the car parks. The “SupercarClub” parking area is, as every year, worth stopping by: Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Enzo, Ferrari 458 Speciale Aperta, Huracan, 488 GTB…
As well as a lovely couple of green Lambos. Though they both have a different shade of green, seeing the two together is always something special. A green Lambo is marvellous, but two… it’s hard to explain how awesome that is. Only in the parking lots can you expect to see some insane modern combos. But you better be quick about it, or have the right timing, because they sometimes only stay for a few hours, then leave as fast as they came!
After walking around, mingling and catching up with old friends, it was time to eat lunch with my mates. It’s definitely cool to rest a bit under the trees and chit-chat about car stuff with your friends. We also happened to celebrate a birthday, so it was a great memory, we all shared cold ones he had brought for the occasion. BTW, good thing it’s not *that* hard to get food this year compared to 2014 = there were many more places open to cater to our stomachs, and there was something for every purse, which is important too. So without a doubt a massive improvement on first edition (2014). After all was done, after I ate too much and I felt sleepy, it was time to head back inside to witness the actual “show”. After an interesting medieval dramatic spectacle where knights fought like in the old times, and horsemen were riding their horses, it was time to see the “winning cars”.
The show – Chantilly Arts and Elegance 2015
Indeed, there are a bunch of prizes (“best of show”, “best pick according to the sponsor”, etc etc). The winning cars parade and lap the swan-filled fountains for everyone to see. Amazing moments. Between you and I, it was also a blessed moment to be able to sit down in a chair and rest my feet (lunch time doesn’t really count). Heck, simply rest from all that walking and standing up since the morning! I’m actually adding photos from the “concept car” show that happened on the same place, but earlier that day (Ford GT, Hommage R, Citroën DS9 etc…). Two birds one stone, right? But either way, seeing those cars driving around, in front of such a nice crowd, everyone admiring them… Well, it’s always something special. Definitely feeling blessed to be a part of it.
There also were a *few* modern cars inside, but very few though. Mainly three Bugattis, brought by the company: an EB110 SupertSport, a Bugatti Veyron SuperSport and the orange & carbon fiber Bugatti Veyron SuperSport WRE (World Record Edition – only 5 units in the world). The Chantilly Arts & Elegance 2015 is also about trying to reach perfection. I think Bugatti deserve their place here!
At the end of the day, I even met up with fellow car enthusiast, awesome photographer and friend Alex Penfold. He happened to be there the whole day and we didn’t even cross paths. I only found out he was there at this moment, because the 3G/4G data wasn’t working really well = very little Facebook & WhatsApp (we are slaves to technology). But at least we got to talk and catch up, surrounded by all these cars I’ve just shown you. I wasn’t expecting to see him at the Chantilly Arts and Elegance 2015, that’s for sure lol. I mean the guy was at Blenheim palace in the UK the day before at another Concours d’Elegance! Definitely not complaining, though it was short, it was cool! I know I might sound like a broken record, but the event isn’t only about cars, it’s about everything around it, the people, the place, it’s such an indescriptible feeling. You sort of feel like a noble man at the king’s court during an important event, but with waayyyy more chilling. And white swans.
It was now around 5PM or 6PM, and it was already time to leave for me, sadly. Every year I leave earlier than I hope to leave. But then again, when you’re part of a group, you respect the decisions from the one who’s driving and brought you there and bringing you back. And to be honest, my feet were killing me anyways haha! Though I’ll try to stay a bit longer next year! This Chantilly Arts & Elegance 2015 was definitely worth waking up early for.