In France, the concours d’élégance tradition goes back to the beginning of the last century. They soon multiplied following a simple principle: a lady, a fashion designer, a coachbuilder and a jury. They then went out of fashion because of an increasing lack of diversity among cars. Since 2014, Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille has brought them up to date.
The Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille assembled automotive jewels of the past and future in the majestic setting of one of the most beautiful chateaux in France.
Chantilly Arts et Elegance Richard Mille has been held on only five occasions. In that time it has acquired considerable renown to the point that it has twice won the prize for the Best motor car event of the Year at the International Historic Motoring Awards. It now has become a biennial event in alternation with Le Mans Classic and is eagerly awaited by enthusiasts and historic car collectors.
The story of the château de Chantilly is intimately linked to that of Henri d’Orléans, the Duke of Aumale. This great collector made his home a haven for his innumerable chefs-d’œuvre and precious manuscripts. He left behind no direct heirs so he willed his domain and his precious collections to the French Institute provided that at his death the museum would be opened to the public.
On Saturday morning before the heat wave the collectors set off for their drive in beautiful summer light. This tourist rally of around 50 kilometers was organised for supercars and some 30 historic machines that are never seen on public roads. Can you imagine coming across a Talbot Lago Grand Sport Coupe followed by a Porsche 917?
As its name implies a Concours d’Etat rewards the car or cars in the best state of preservation or restoration. Here in Chantilly there were only exceptional cars divided up into 17 classes. Mylène sets off to meet jury members to get a better understanding of the criteria they use to judge them.
Candidates for the coveted “Best of Show” prize were enough on the meadows in front of the castle. It was all the harder for the jury to choose the best from all the gems. “Best of Show” in the post-war era was the French Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport with a shapely body of Figoni & Falaschi, built in 1948. The 1931 Bentley 8-liter coupe was awarded the “Best of Show” prewar era.
This year, numerous manufacturers presented their concept cars around the central lake of the château. Nowhere else was it possible to see a model dressed by Max Mara alongside the “Voiture Noire,” the BMW Vision M Next having its world premier or the McLaren Speedtail, which won the competition associated with fashion designer, Paule Ka.
For the clubs, the lunch break is the highlight of the day. They are the life and soul of the elegant Sunday in the country and take part in the huge garden party. Elegance must be harmonious to hope to win the Grand Prix des Clubs awarded for the quality of presentation, diversity and originality of the cars on show as well as the care taken with the Luncheon on the Grass.