Celebrating the world’s most beautiful cars at Chantilly Arts & Elegance 2017

World-class wonders


By Wei Yeen Loh

Celebrating the world’s most beautiful cars at Chantilly Arts & Elegance 2017

A 30-minute drive from Charles de Gaulle Airport in France took us to the idyllic countryside that is Chantilly, a quaint commune that boasts an expansive 16th-century château and sweeping golf courses. The annual Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille 2017 was in full swing that weekend, where the world’s most beautiful cars (both classic and new) congregrate on the grounds of the Château de Chantilly for spectators to feast their eyes on. Launched by the founder of Swiss haute horologerie brand Richard Mille—who is an avid racing car enthusiast himself, the international automobile event is in its fourth edition this year. A total of 16,000 visitors descended upon the sprawling domain to spot more than 890 cars that were in the running for a number of contests (or concours) that weekend.

“The visitors that attend Chantilly are always amazed by what they see and experience, by the celebrities of all kinds they have the opportunity to meet. Everyone leaves determined to return. They they let their friends know, and word of mouth works its magic,” says Richard Mille. “If you think about it, there’s really no other event in the world that brings together cars, art, fashion, gastronomy and wine in such a regal setting.”

And that we concur. While it was impossible to miss the beauty that is a fleet of rare supercars and vintage automobiles on the grounds, it was evident that this year’s highlight was Ferrari’s 70th anniversary celebrations. In typical French fashion, a touch of flair was served by way of 30 Ferrari creations—all of which participated in the Le Mans 24 Hours—on display at the Le Nôtre Lawns within the château. Standouts include the legendary 250 Testa Rossa (driven by Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill in 1958) and a stunning 250 GT Berlinetta that won the Tour de France of 1960.

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Another feature of Chantilly Arts & Elegance is the Concours d’Elegance—where the world’s best car manufacturers and stylists show off their newest concept cars, each accompanied by a model decked in an ensemble by a French fashion house. Renault’s head-turning electric supercar, the Trezor, won first place alongside Citroën’s hybrid hatchback, the CXperience. Apart from that, the Concours d’Etat saw 90 classic cars on display, including a few of the most famous electric cars in automobile history—from the 1899 La Jamais Contente that was the first road vehicle to go over 100 km/h, to the new Porsche Mission E that boasts a zero to 100km/h time of just 3.5 seconds. But what turned heads was a rare Bugatti 57S Atlantic (1936) made by Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore—also the winner of Best of Show award in the Pre-War class, to little surprise. 

Amongst the many car-related activities were a range of cultural events, including the inauguration of an exhibition solely dedicated to the Nicolas Poussin’s 1628 masterpiece ‘Le Massacre des Innocents’, a staged performance in front of the château inspired by Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus, and a poignant rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ in front of Picasso’s ‘Le Charnier’ within the museum. As with every event of this scale in terms of prestige and opulence, a host of celebrities and friends of the brand graced the concours that weekend, including FIA president Jean Todt, Formula One racing drivers Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean, four-time Formula One Drivers’ Champion Alain Prost, and professional footballer Didier Drogba among many others.

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More highlights of the Chantilly Arts et Elegance 2017 as captured by Richard Mille:

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