D’Artagnan’s trip to London: Chantilly, April 1625

All went well till they arrived at Chantilly, which they reached about eight o’clock in the morning. They needed breakfast, and alighted at the door of an auberge, recommended by a sign representing St. Martin giving half his cloak to a poor man. They ordered the lackeys not to unsaddle the horses, and hold themselves in readiness to set off again immediately. They entered the common hall, and placed themselves at table.

Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers, 1844

The Three Musketeers, the historical novel by Alexandre Dumas, recounts the adventures of a young man named d’Artagnan. Set in the Spring of 1625, the above abstract follows D’Artagnan as he travels from Paris to London to bring back Queen Anne’s jewels.
Henry II of Montmorency is the current Lord of the Chantilly Castle and Domain. Only the “Petit Château” built by architect Jean Bullant in the 1560’s stands in the Nonette river vallée.

Chantilly, Garden front of the petit chateau, engraving from Le Second Volume des plus excellents Bastiments de France by Androuet du Cerceau of 1579.

According to Dumas, the Musketeers leave Paris at two o’clock in the morning. On their way to Chantilly, they probably pass through or near the towns of Saint Denis, Sarcelles, Villiers-le-Bel, Ecouen, Le Mesnil-Aubry, Epinay-Champlatreux, Luzarches, Chaumontel and La Morlaye, using the 17th century’s version of the D316 (departmental road in Oise).  After 6 hours of intense riding, the musketeers are hungry and decide to stop at the Hôtel du Grand-Saint-Martin, recommended by a sign representing St. Martin giving half his cloak to a poor man. At the time, such icons of St. Martin are commonly used by inns and known to be a symbol of the universal value of sharing.

Example of sign showing St. Martin giving his cloak to a poor traveler, Hotel Saint-Martin in Colmar, France.

Auberges/Inns are social centers highly frequented by both locals and travelers. Here, the musketeers order the lackeys not to unsaddle the horses, and to hold themselves in readiness to set off again immediately, suggesting they would have something quick to eat. At this time of the day, the innkeeper probably offers them a chunk of of bread with a bowl of thick unsalted spring vegetable soup. Nothing fancy.  A stranger sitting at a table proposed to Porthos to drink the health of the cardinal. Porthos replied that he asked no better if the stranger, in his turn, would drink the health of the king. Watered wine is commonly drank at any time of the day.

We still need to wait 67 years for the church of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption to be constructed, 159 years for the Baroness Marie Feodorovna to write about eating cream in Chantilly,  207 years for the hippodrome to be inaugurated, 219 years for the novel The Three Musketeers to be published,  and 250 years for the Chantilly Castle to be entirely renovated by Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale to the designs of architect Honoré Daumet.


Chantilly today, photo courtesy of Domaine de Chantilly