Every year in September, the “Art et Elégance Richard Mille” event puts on a spectacle for lovers of cars and culture to enjoy. Hosted at the strikingly elegant Château de Chantilly, an hour north of Paris, this year’s edition — the fourth — was without doubt the greatest one yet, with more than 16,000 visitors on hand for the world-class automobile contest: 90 classic cars competed in the Concours d’Etat, while close to 800 competed in the Grand Prix des Clubs.
Saturday’s rallies featured both rare classic cars entered in the Concours d’Etat as well as similarly rare — but much sportier — supercars. McLaren’s partnership with Richard Mille was highlighted by the automaker’s fascinating introduction to its range on the challenging Mortefontaine circuit. Simultaneously on display were the most famous electric cars in history: the renowned Jamais-Contente from 1899, the first vehicle ever to clear 100 km/hr, and the avant-garde Porsche Mission E, boasting 600hp and a 500-km range.
There was still more to wonder at: One of this year’s highlights was the celebration of Ferrari’s 70th anniversary, featuring a display of around 30 of its creations, all of which participated in the Le Mans 24 Hours. On the grounds of the Château de Chantilly, a legendary Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa stood side by side with a 250 GTO, while the 330 P4, 312 P and 512 S Spyder were lined up on lawns which were designed by none other than famed French landscape architect André Le Nôtre, who served under King Louis XIV.
Art lovers, meanwhile, were thrilled with the kick-off to this year’s gathering: the inauguration of an exhibition dedicated to Poussin’s world-renowned painting Le Massacre des Innocents. Talented young singers and dancers from Chantilly led guests round the park on their way to the exhibition with songs and artistic happenings; in front of the château, visitors were treated to a stunning mise en scène of Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus, while inside the museum itself the highlight was a moving rendition of “Hallelujah” in front of Picasso’s Charnier. The work, one of many inspired by Poussin’s original, had been brought back specially to Chantilly, with Richard Mille’s support, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The crowd was unsurprisingly VIP, featuring the likes of eminent Richard Mille partners such as Mutaz Barshim, Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Jean Todt, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Alain Prost. They spent their time relaxing with the likes of Didier Drogba, Eric Boullier and Frédéric Sausset in the dedicated Richard Mille lounge around a Delahaye MS 135 coupé CHAPRON 1937, whilst being serenaded by French music from the Belle Époque.
Sunday saw a stunning equestrian show performed by Mario Lurashi and his team, after which the judges, including FIA president Jean Todt, bestowed the Richard Mille Concours d’Élégance prizes on the Renault Trezor—an electric-drive sport coupe GT—and the Citroën CXPERIENCE & Yang Li. The prize for Best of Show was conferred on the unbelievable Bugatti 57 S Atlantic (1936) in the Pre-War class, and the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (1958) in the Post-War category.
Given the highlights of this year’s edition, you might not want to miss the 5th edition, which takes place once again at Chantilly in September 2018, when the bar for Art et Elégance Richard Mille will no doubt be raised even higher.