Prix de Diane – When the charming Chantilly gets ‘Hatted in Elegance’

Chateau de Chantilly

A short drive or a 30 minutes train ride away from Gare du Nord, Paris is this charming little commune called Chantilly in Northern France. As we drove in, I was told that this 18th century town is known for some of its exquisite lacework, beautiful porcelain and whipped cream. The one thing that you can’t miss out in this charming get-away is the Chateau de Chantilly. As the history unfolds an interesting story, this beauty is a creation by this prince, son of the last king of France. This man, considered to be the great collector of his time, made sure the Chateau stood as a testament to the rich culture & history showcasing some of his vast collections that included masterpieces in art and manuscripts. 

The Musée Condé art gallery inside the Chateau is a must-visit when in Chantilly. The Petit and Grand Châteaux strike an awesome pose with the surrounding still water reflecting this beautiful structure as an extension and a compliment. It offered a picture perfect view as we stood there in the green lawns a distant away.  In my mind I couldn’t help but think about the princely life once lived, his collections and the wonderful stories that this Chateau holds as it stands through centuries and for more to come. 

This is not a tale about this prince Henri d’Orléans, though it holds more than a great story for every traveller. Chantilly is all about horses with its 18th century grand stables to house over 200 horses and is one of the most popular horse-raining centres. It is called the French ‘Capital of Horses’. This is the prime reason why I was in Chantilly. As a part of the team invited by the iconic watch brand Longines, I was in this charming commune to attend the most popular Longines Prix de Diane. 

Riding the hoods!

Longines always identified itself with equestrian, supporting the sport the world over, for years. The brand resonates the tradition, the racing aesthetics and the glory of this sport with their design values, as one of the most admired Swiss watch maker. Longines as the title sponsor, the Prix de Diane happens every year in Chantilly, the equestrian racing hub of France, during the month of June. Ever since 1878 when Longines designed a watch with a jockey and a horse on the dial, it is said to be associated with most equestrian events. 

Carnival mood!

This grand event attracts tourists from across the globe to this northern French part to witness some of the finest horses being raced. With the beautiful Chateau de Chantilly and the surrounding Renaissance-style architecture forming the backdrop, some of the most pedigreed & race-bred fillies assembling in style for one specular racing afternoon, what actually adds the best of colours is the prestigious Mademoiselle Diane held by Longines Concours d’Elegance. And this actually, is the most fashionably interesting part of this tale that I am framing here. 

Party in pink n blue!

Le Prix de Diane Longines is a Group 1 race, which is the highest level in horse racing, is also an event of High-Fashion that attracts women flaunting the fanciest dresses & particularly the hats to compete in the prestigious Mademoiselle Diane competition…in such elegance.

Elegance!

The event offers nothing short of the latest in high fashion, absolutely spectacular hats, and overall an electrifying atmosphere with a picnic spirit. On a typically beautiful sunny French afternoon, the event heats up with some of the best wines being poured along with the choicest of culinary delicacies popping up out-beating one course after the other. 

Elegantly hatted!

The one thing that stands out from all of these is this specular collection of hats worn by the women with flair as they walk in large numbers. Its one big carnival by noon and with the finest race action in the middle showcasing some of the fine horse-racing, you can never go tired of watching the hats. Intricate floral arrangements, placement of fruits, beautiful lace work that Chantilly is known for, different assortments of feathers, naughtily netted & knotted, tall and structurally architected and a plethora of more interestingly designed hats.

Hatted conversations

These hats worn with such elegance captures every imagination of how creative one can get. As event warrants an elegant attire and sophistication, the hats are easily the stunners. Every creation deserves appreciation as it showcases craftsmanship and taste, as an incredible evidence to stand apart from the crowd in style, boldness, elegance, exclusivity & as a winner. 

weirdly interesting hats.
Carrying an architecture…
Taking on the sun…
Showing off…their hoods.

Every year, the event attracts more than 400 participants parading on a catwalk set up in the centre of the Village de Diane. Among 45,000 spectators at Prix de Diane Longines, Aishwarya Rai, the Miss World title winner & an actor from India turned heads in her black Armani ensemble teamed perfectly with a chic hat and sporting the newest timepiece from the DolceVita collection. She still is one of their most sought-after brand ambassadors, having been associated with Longines for over 16 years. Apart from launching the new DolceVita line, Aishwarya also gave away the ‘Mademoiselle Diane par Longines’ Award for Elegance to the most stylish woman at the race. 

Aishwarya Rai…the brand ambassador
Carrying a craft.

A sunny afternoon in French oaks, most picturesque racing event with the very Chateau de Chantilly for a backdrop, the finest of race-bred horses, the best young jockeys from around the world, some great French wines & champagnes, a well designed & delectable menu and a generous dose of some high fashion distinctively marked by the HATS!

Hatted in Style!
Hatted in Elegance

That is exactly what Prix de Diane in charming Chantilly is all about. You cannot ask for a better reason to plan that French trip during the race schedule…and to get absolutely charmed by Chantilly with ‘hatted’ elegance. 

Pictures – irk99 | www.instagram.com/irk99

When the world’s most beautiful race rolls into Roman streets!

If a trip to Italy especially Rome is always an enticing one, I could not have asked for a better reason to have planned one in May. Quite honestly, it was indeed a surprise that it turned out to be one such sweetly timed plan that fell in place for one awesome experience. 

There is an old motto that says ‘Its fuel rather than blood flows through the veins of the people who come from Brescia’, a beautiful city in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. This clearly depicts the Brescians innate passion for racing dating back to the nineteenth century. With a rich history of having held the first ever ‘speed race’ and motoring passion, many automobile manufacturers were found in Brescia.  These races became bigger and better over the years and attained much popularity.

As the history narrates, on January 18, 1927, the preparations for the first Mille Miglia Cup began to take place. From that day on, the name ‘Mille Miglia’ along with ‘Red Arrow’ trademark have remained the inalienable property of the Brescia Automobile Club. The first race took place during the month of March in 1927, which was won by Minoja-Morandi OM 655 Sport ‘Superba’. 

The founder Giovanni Canestrini in his book states the history of 1000 Miglia, as a description of the memorable incident that occurred on December 2, 1926, the day that has since been officially recognized as the birth of the Mille Miglia.  It narrates how a group of Brescians arrived to his home in Milan on Via Bonaventura Cavalieri, which included Franco Mazzotti, Aymo Maggi, Renzo Castagnet, (the other three musketeers) and his friend, Flaminio Monti. The rest of the story is history as it came to be known as ‘Mille Miglia Cup’ – the most beautiful race in the world. And it was quite an incredibly interesting history learning for me as someone who was very keen to know when this all started.

The incredible racing event has been bringing together exceptional personalities to the world of sport. And here I was absolutely lucky and super excited to be in Italy on time to witness it all. The re-enactment of the Mille Miglia currently, is an event in a class of its own. Mille Miglia combines tradition with innovation, and vividly colours that combination with creativity, elegance, beautiful scenery and the Italian way of living. This plethora of rich elements makes the Mille Miglia a symbol of Italian excellence all over the world.


This clearly makes visiting Italy during this grand racing event most unforgettable. The beautiful narrow roads play the lucky ‘red carpet’ for all the awesome ‘vintage-to-contemporary’ cars to roll on. The hardcore racing fans line up on either side, especially at the crossroad junctions and turns to get a good look of these amazing beasts whizz past. And I was also at one of those junctions strategically closer to a traffic signal, as it drizzled on and off adding to the cool of a spectacular evening.

Some of the best classics ever made in the history of car making from the iconic creators such as Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Bugatti, Porsche, Austin Healey, Aston Martin all racing down the streets of Rome, can anyone ask for more. Specially for the car and auto sports lovers, this exciting event makes it a perfect time to visit Italy. 

For me, this turned out to be one unforgettable experience standing in awe watching these beauties roll by, sometimes even forgetting to click pictures. 

As for those planning a trip post this Great Covid Pause, be there on time to pick your spots in the historical streets of Rome to witness what is truly ‘the most beautiful race in the world’.

Pictures – irk99 | www.instagram.com/irk99

A masterpiece in mighty metal, that millions marvel!

If there is one thing that comes to everyone’s mind the moment the city of Paris is mentioned, it is the Eiffel Tower. And it is also the very reason why it is clearly the No-1 if not the top attraction for every first-time visitor to what has been long cherished as a most romantic city in the world. 

As a traveller I am no different and neither do I wish to be different not to put the Eiffel Tower right at the very top in the list during my first visit to Paris. As most visitors, my expectation too was as towering high, right on my way to the Eiffel that showed itself in glimpses as we drove towards it. Standing over 1000 feet tall and weighing over 10,000 tons, this amazing structure in metal on 4 pillars clearly makes us go awestruck at first sight. As it is claimed, this incredible structure having taken 2 years, 2 months and 5 days, without a doubt has amazed millions till date and will continue to do so for 100s of years to come. As a testimony to French engineering, this tower is a frozen moment of the great industrial era at the end of 19th century.

The mighty Eiffel…just when I turned into the road to encounter the marvel

Though the wait in the queue may put you off, it is definitely worth it once the ascent begins. Having been modernised in 1900 by Gustave Eiffel, a decade later after their inception in 1889, two of the original elevators are still in service. Now this is an incredible fact that elevates the excitement and interest levels of most visitors like me, as we move up. As someone with the lens in hand and hungry for the views that are differently captivating, every stop that we made at different levels offers more of them. 

A structural marvel

The lovely landscapes around…

As we move up, the first sight is a spectacular landscape that showcases an orderly built city, star-studded with centuries old monumental structures such as Palais de Chaillot, the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, esplanades, the beautiful River Siene and the beautiful lush green Champ-de-Mars park forming the intermittent spaces that completes a perfect panorama. Every frame from the tower’s high, offers nothing short of centuries of rich history and culture. The slowly moving boats carrying loads of enthusiastic tourists on River Siene, adds more than life to every view, be it live or through the lens. 

On the way to dizzyin’ heights…
Shining bright to stand out from the rest.
The most scenic River Siene

The higher one gets on the Tower, more interesting are the views and the experience. The whackier side of me is made to imagine a large cake with some intricate icing in white and a green base, that has been precisely cut into a pattern of different sizes.  And thats exactly how one of these city views appear right from the top.

A spectacular view of the nearer old and the farther new of Paris!
Perfectly designed…a green view from the top.
…the green junction
An incredible view…

Every little variations seem to be adding more beauty to these sights. And one cannot miss the beautiful bridges that seem to appear like those incredible line drawings that connect interesting points on carefully drawn travel plan on a large canvas. The three main bridges Pont d’Lena, Pont d’Alma and Pont de Bir Hakim pose elegantly for me as they connect the two sides of the waterways, right below the Eiffel Tower, and also conveys much about the sophistication in planning of this romantic city.

Beautiful bridges
A view from the other side…
Tall & awesome.
A mighty engineering marvel & truly a strain in the neck view!

The Iron Lady, as it is called, standing tall above the French capital, celebrates 130 years and this goes as a little tribute remembering the Parisan engineer Gustave Eiffel, the creator. This mighty engineering marvel is sure to awe millions from all over the world for 100s of years to come.