| Travel, Art, Paris, Travel,

Would You Prefer Owning a Castle or a Damien Hirst Cherry Tree?

Beatrice Lessi


That’s what I was wondering today, after experiencing two intense and completely opposite moments, one completely alone in a castle, and the other visiting the most popular and packed modern art exhibition in Paris.

If you wonder how that was possible, here is what happened.

I have been in Paris already for a month, to film a beginning running series with iFIT.

This gave me and the crew the chance to visit some stunning locations (the idea is to allow runners to virtually run everywhere in the world, especially in dreamy settings that are not so accessible during everyday life), often in the quiet of the early hours, to be able to film without disturbing anyone. That’s how I found myself, at 7 am, completely alone and ready to be followed by a drone, in the unreal and luxurious settings of Chantilly. The castle gate opened, and its spectacular manicured gardens welcomed me. I hesitated for a moment, because the atmosphere literally took my breath away. Then I entered and run. A moment I won’t forget!

In case you’re wondering if the name Chantilly is related to the famous whipped cream, yes, there is a link. Legend says, this sweet recipe was invented here when a famous chef, François Vatel, in the XVII century, had some delivery problems while preparing a banquet, didn’t receive enough cream, and apparently invented a way to make it look bigger.

After eating in the famous Vatel restaurant and enjoying a portion of its famous Chantilly cream, I headed to Paris and visited the Cartier Foundation for Modern and Contemporary Art.  What a fabulous contrast, and what an impression! The colours and sizes of the paintings also took my breath away.

The monumental canvases, which are entirely covered in dense bright colours, envelope the viewer in a vast floral landscape moving between figuration and abstraction. The Cherry Blossoms are at once a subversion and homage to the great artistic movements of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They are integral to the pictorial exploration long carried out by Hirst.

The exhibition, a response to an invitation by Hervé Chandès, General Director of the Fondation Cartier, to Damien Hirst during a meeting in London in 2019, presents thirty paintings selected by Hervé Chandès and the artist. Taking over the space designed by Jean Nouvel, the canvases, covered in thick, vibrant paint, absorb the spectator into the paintings.

Says the website.

I leave it to you: which is experience is best? I loved both and realised once more that I adore Paris and its surrounding.

The Chantilly Castle

Running in the garden

The garden of the Chantilly castle

Big canvas in bright colours – Damien Hirst Cherry Blossoms

Impressive size

The pink cherry trees room



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