by Nancy Armitage
Napoleon III’s Chateau Beauregard Le Celle-Saint Cloud by Paris France was a national French treasure. This was a large property with 187 hectures (400 acres). This large estate was leased by Mr. and Mrs. Henry & Arabella Huntington for 10 yrs., from 1913-1923. The “U” shaped Chateau was about 20 minutes from Paris; The Chateau Beauregard official address was: Oise et Seine, Chesney, (Le Celle-Saint-Cloud), Paris. It was also near Versailles Palace, the Sevres Factory (Arabella must have been in heaven) & Paris. In the northeast corner of the Domaine de Beauregard, the property had a thorough-bred horse stable called “Bel Ebat” (which also had a mansion-hunting lodge called Chateau Bel Ebat). It also had a u-shaped smaller “mansion” on the property that was just west of the Chateau Beauregard. This mansion is now called “The Castle of La Celle Saint-Cloud” (yellow). Sadly, Chateau Beauregard, got bombed in WWII.
Napoleon III had Chateau Beauregard built for his favorite mistress, Miss Harriet Howard (below), a English actress. Napoleon gave her Chateau Beauregard including the Bel Ebat (the horse stable) & gave her a French title, “Comtesse de Beauregard”. This Chateau Beauregard at Le Celle-Saint- Cloud should not be confused with Napoleon III’s “Chateau St. Cloud” a huge castle that he shared with his wife, Empress Eugenie just miles away.
Chateau Beauregard (Chateau means “castle” in French) was a breathtaking ornate large building. In this photograph (below), it looks like a 2-story Chateau but in reality it was 4 stories. The whole basement floor was filled with wine caves of French wine & French champagne. See on the left of the photograph was a conservatory or bird aviary. By reviewing the Chateau blueprints, I found the impressive French castle had over 111 rooms. The first floor had 44 rooms, the 2nd floor had 48 rooms, the 3th floor had 19 rooms & on the bottom-basement floor – the wine “caves” ( was a enormous wine cellar) 49 rooms with wine rooms (for each different kind of wine), an estate office & “Fruitier” (green grocer).
In July of 1913, H. E. “Edwards” & Arabella Huntington had just gotten married at the American Church in Paris. They were staying at the Hotel Bristol for their grand 5-month honeymoon in Europe. For a wedding present, Edwards desperately wanted to buy the Chateau Beauregard Le Celle-St. Cloud for Arabella for a wedding gift.
Baron Maurice de Forest owned the chateau & the whole property. DeForest was a Englishman, a motor racing driver, aviator, & liberal politician in the UK. Rumors say he gambled away his fortune. Mr. Huntington, his lawyers, & friends went back & forth in letters ; many negotiations & correspondence with de Forest. Every documents in French needed to be translated in English, so Mr. Huntington knew what was going on with the transactions. De Forest would not sell. But what De Forest would allow was a very one-sided 10-year lease of the Domaine de Beauregard Le Celle-Saint-Cloud from 1913-1923. But, that the Bel Ebat Horse Stables & the grand wine cellar were off-limits to the Huntingtons.
Napoleons Chantilly (recipe)
In the Huntington’s Chateau Beauregard papers, there were many invoices for pastries purchased from fancy bakeries in Paris & Versailles. The Parisian invoices were truly a work of art; amazing ornate script with lovely swirls & illustrations of century old markets. There were long lists of French fancy pastries like chocolate covered croissants, Napoleons, & gateaux (fancy cakes) & chocolate mousse tart with creme a l’anglaise (vanilla sauce) & bonbons (chocolate truffles). This recipe seems to have many interpretations. In San Francisco at the Hotel St. Francis, they called this dessert a “Napoleon Cake”, using vol-au-vent or patty shells. The chef would line the puff shells with vanilla icing & fill with pistachio nuts. “Chantilly” is whipped cream with powdered vanilla added to it, it can also have nuts, chopped rose petals, & raspberries added to it to.
Sheet of puff pastry, frozen
Vanilla icing or “Chantilly” whipped cream filling
Pistachios nuts, whole
Fresh Raspberries, whole
Royal icing (powdered sugar & lemon juice until it drizzles)
Dark French chocolate, melted in microwave for 1 minute, to drizzle
Bake the puff pastry, let cool. Layer puff pastry in a casserole pan. Brush on chantilly cream or vanilla icing. Fill with fresh raspberries, another layer of puff pastry, drizzle royal icing, sprinkle pistachios, top with another puff pastry. Decorate royal icing & drizzle melted chocolate. Recipe Nancy Armitage (from several different recipes)
There were so many lovely locations to the Parisian chateau property. The Chateau sat high on a knoll so you could see everything on the enormous property. The Chateau buildings & the French history was amazing on it own. The outside had spectacular formal gardens, a 4-acre walled Kitchen garden: “La Chataigneraie”, orangery, a forest, a fruit, nut & apple orchards, a farm, a dairy, farm animals: chickens goats & cows, many flowers, exotic & French vegetables, & French roses. Domaine de Beauregard was located down the street from Versailles Palace & the Sevres porcelain factory – Arabella’s favorite porcelain vessels and plates. She purchased many beautiful pieces of Sevres porcelain in her life. Just several miles away from Paris, with great French antiques, & dress shopping at her favorite House of Worth.
Inside of the Chateau Beauregard it would have looked like Versailles Palace or Chateau St. Cloud. With gilded walls & elegant XIV French paintings. Louis XIV satin chairs & couches, French Sevres porcelain vessels on marble tops, & gilded side tables. Mrs. Huntington collected all things French, furniture, chandeliers, paintings, and sculpture. Some rooms were painted light blue, green, or bright red. Everything stylized in the ornate design Louis XIV & Marie Antoinette; Napoleon III who built the Chateau.
Mr. Henry E. Huntington paid for the 30 Chateau Beauregard’s full time employees & 3 widows of past employees. There was 12 chateau employees (inside) & 18 employees (outside) took good care of him and his wife. She impressed the staff by speaking fluent French to them. Inside the chateau, there was D. Welker (Head Butler), there was also a chaffeur, wall painter, plumber, locksmith-engineer, charretier, rough work, valet de chambray, Head Housekeeper: Mrs. Merkel, doorkeeper-locksmith. Then Outside the Chateau was 4 Gatekeepers, coachmen, chaffeurs, doormen, Doorkeeper-Chesney, Doorkeeper- Bougival watchmen, Doorkeeper- Rocquencourt Gardener, Gardener asstistant, Car-man, Mechanic, Ploughman, agricultural workman, coachman, 1st motor driver, 2nd motor driver, motor washer, shoeing the horses, watchmen.
The Huntingtons always brought there own servant staff while traveling: McGilliray (Head Butler), Alfonso Gomez (Mr. Huntington’s Gentlemen’s Valet), Jeannie Reifer (Mrs. H. Ladies Maid), Jas. Temple (Footman) Mr. Varnum traveled with his wife, Catherine then he fired in 1915 for offending Mrs. Huntington and Geo. Hapgood (HEH’s Social sec’y), replaced Varnum, & Carrie Campbell (ADH’s Social Secy.), & sometimes a cook. It is not quite clear where the Huntington’s entourage stayed, at the Chateau or Hotel Bristol in Paris.
On their 10-year lease, Mr. H.E. Huntington got the short end of the stick. But he loved his wife so he agreed to it. The Chateau Beauregard was run down & not up to date on plumbing, kitchen, etc. So the Huntingtons had to renovate the whole Chateau to be satisfactory to their needs. Arabella was really excellent at renovating mansions, she had renovated many of her mansions before in New York and San Francisco. Sir Joseph Duveen, (antique & artwork dealer & friend) helped them. On this unusual lease, Mr. Huntington had to pay $100,000.00 for renovating the chateau, then he had to pay $75,000.00 for a annual lease fee. Mr. Huntington paid all the bills to buy 100’s of new trees, French roses, plants, French herbs, food for the servants, & house-guests. So in the summer of 1913, while the Huntingtons renovated the Chateau they had fun traveling around France & Europe. The Huntington purchasing French master paintings, rare books, & Louis XVI French elegant furniture.
So as you walk into the chateau on the 1st Floor, in the middle was the “Grand Salon” (Large Ballroom), & the “Petit Salon” (Smaller Drawing Rooms). Also, with “Grand Salle a Manger” (Grand Dining Room) & the “Petite Salle Manger” (the Family Dining Room). There was “Salon de Madames” (Madame’s Bedroom) with her Boudoir (Dressing Room) & numerous chambers (bedrooms), the Chateau kitchen, lingerie, wash rooms, laundry rooms, & a “chapelle” (a Chapel).
The upkeep of the Chateau was extensive & and many acres of lovely gardens. Even when the Huntingtons were not “in-residence” Mr. Huntington still paid all the bills. Mr. Huntington asked The Head Butler for good communication in letters; he asked the Chateau Head Housekeeper Miss Merkel to jot down everyday what the Cook bought at the market & to make “Expenditures” (grocery lists) & save them all for Mr. Huntington. For 10 years, Mrs. Merkel & Mrs. Jaggi did just that: wrote down the grocery list; and gather all receipts for Parisian pastries, tea, spices, roses, flowers & vegetables, car & limousine repairs were bundle up together. This packet was sent to Mr. Huntington’s lawyer in Paris, Mr. Harper on a monthly basis & they bills were paid.
In the Chateau Beauregard Papers, there were several Maxim’s Paris menus & several other Paris menus. We know that Mrs. Huntington fancied the Hotel Ritz for fancy afternoon tea and dinners, also. The Huntingtons enjoyed Maxims for afternoon tea & Parisian fancy dinners. Maxims served a amazing Maxim’s Tea Blend (a Citrus Tea) with Bergamot leaves, Earl Grey tea, citrus fruit like grapefruit peel, lemon peel, orange peel, & tangerine peel with some kind of citrus essential oils.
Mrs. Huntington has two people that were special to her. They were Mr. & Mrs. Antoine Miconnet: Mr. Miconnet was the houseman & Mrs. Miconnet was a fine French cook. Mrs. Huntington employed both of them in both of her Paris Mansions before the Huntington’s leased the Chateau Beauregard: 1907-1913 – Mrs. Arabella D. Huntington two Paris Mansions were located at 20 Rue de Lubeck Paris (1908-1913) & 2 l’Elysses & Gabriel Paris (1907-8).
Some of the delicious French food eaten at the Chateau Beauregard on the “expenditures” were “Pot en Feu” (a Braised meat & poultry & veggie dish in a broth but it is served like 2 courses), with bagettes of French Bread. Also, French omelet with herbs, artichokes, & French cheeses, Consomme Madrilene, Boeuf a la Bourguignonne, Chocolate crepes, French rustic Apple Tart, Gigot d’agneau (Roasted Lamb), “Dinde” (Roasted turkey), Bordeaux Red wine, Capons of Chicken with Mushroom wine sauce, “Chantilly Soup” with fresh garden peas & mint. Teas, sable (cookies), orange marmalade with bread.
Mr. Huntington sent his sister, Carrie Holladay a letter in the States about the news of leasing the chateau:
Sept. 5 , 1913
Hotel Bristol, Paris
My Dear Sister,
I have just leased for a term of years the Chateau Beauregard which is a most beautiful place of 400 acres n the highest ground around Paris only fourty minutes from the hotel. It was presented by Napoleon the third III to his favorite Miss Howard & often the commune was purchased by Baron Hirsch where he resided & I have leased it from his son, Baron de Forest. It is only 7 minutes from Versailles. I shall be very busy as we return next week to America. I hope to have you all visit us here sometime with very much love to you all.
Your Affectionate Brother,
Bell just me in here…
The Huntington’s usually enjoyed the Chateau during the summer & Autumn months. This is a great time to see and smell the French flowers & French roses in bloom & the apples in the orchards. Usually in June, the Huntingtons would take a Transatlantic Cunard cruise from New York City to La Harve (a French seaport village in Normandy, in northern France). They might spend the night there & then the next day get on the train and travel south to Paris. Then the train to travel on to St. Cloud station. The Chateau chaffeur would have picked the Huntingtons & their large entourage and luggage up at the St. Cloud train station.
For their auto travel, the Huntingtons had 3 limousines & 2 cars. In June of 1914, Mr. Huntington purchased: (2) Mercedes limousine, “Prince Jacques” & (1) 40 HP Limousine Rothschild”. Several Lloyds of London car insurance policies were found in Mr. Huntington’s Chateau papers. In July of 1914, a receipt addressed to Mr. H. E. Huntington at Hotel Bristol in Paris & Chateau de Beauregard, purchased several cars. There was a Packard & one Renault. Often, the Huntingtons would take day car trips to Paris or Provence (spend a couple nights there,) & Italy, too. Day trips to Paris might involve shopping for jewelry, paintings, & Louis XVI furniture.
Many historic French decorations made the Chateau Beauregard so special the doorways, the French sconces, & Marie Antoinette chandeliers. There was Louis XIV furniture of comfy couches & settees; master paintings, engravings & watercolors adored the ornate gilded walls. They had one pair of large torcheres with bronze gilt branches with cupids in black bronze long columns of marble. Many pairs of French Sevres vases, one pair was blue decorated in gold, one with a blue ground & Medici shape.
In the Chateau Beauregard’s,in the Butler’s Pantry there was many beautiful pieces of Sevres porcelain, Chelsea Birds, & many Dresden porcelain. There was Dresden porcelain plates “Empress” or “Chateau” (1907 Mrs. H. Rudolph Kann collection). They also had old Dresden tea set with 14 tea cups & saucers, White Dresden, Modern Dresden (abt. 1913); she also could have had Marie Antoinette Dresden porcelain plates. The French Crystal glasses: Gold rimmed French crystal glasses & French Baccarat Crystal.
The Chateau Dining Room was a very large long room with many dinners enjoyed by the Huntingtons. I found a ornate Sevres porcelain plate (above) that was used at the Chateau Beauregard by “Comtesse de Beauregard”. It was called: “Pheasant Indies Dinner plate service (Sevres – Manufacture de Sevres 1784) with green dotted background, buffon, & antique birds”. There is a series of these mint green rimmed plates with different beautiful birds in the center of the plate. One plate had this blue Victorian crowned pheasant/pigeon & another plate had a lime green parrot. The rim background is a mint green color with gold and pokka dots/flowers. On the plate rim, there 3 portraits in a Wedgwood affect & 3 rectangular shapes with antique birds. Did the Huntingtons get to use this beautiful plates at Chateau Beauregard? If Arabella could have purchased even one of these plates let alone an entire set, she would have been thrilled!
I found a invoice, dated May 21, 1914, Mrs. Arabella Huntington: “Madame Huntington, Chateau de Beauregard par Le Chesney Paris”. She had purchased from Armandias, a large set of Louis LXV Sterling silver flatware. It was a service for 12 guests, her favorite number of luncheon & dinner guests. It had a full set with fish serving knifes, sugar tongs (for tea) strawberry spoon, ladle, coffee spoons, & “30 couverts de table arg Louis XIV”. On the invoice, it said “Poire”, maybe pear plates, I found some “Old Paris” Plates Armorial plates with pears. We know that Mrs. Huntington collected French “Old Paris” dinner or teaware.
The French Chateau Beauregard Dinner “Le Diner” would consist of 3 – 4 courses maybe 5-6 courses. The 1st course was a Hors d’oeuvre or appetizer sometimes called a “Amuse Bouche” (which is a little surprise from the chef) or a Soup, 2nd course is the “Plat principal” (the entree – main course), & then a French cheese course (Brie, Camembert, Pont l’Eveque, Roquefort, Gruyere & St. Andre ) or Dessert course that sometimes could be followed by a salad course of French Chateau greens like baby arugula, herbs, or endive with a light French vinaigrette salad dressing.
The Chateau Beauregard soups were, French Onion Soup, Paris Mushroom Soup, French Sorrel Soup, Sago Soup (made with pearl tapioca), or Potage St. Germain (a split pea soup with ham & greens). Appetizers could have been a Petit Roquefort Tart, (we know Mrs. Huntington loved Roquefort) Quiche Lorraine, Pate de poulet aux truffles (Chicken Pate with rich earthy mushroom truffles) tor Goat cheese & mushroom on French baguette toasts.
The Chateau Beauregard meat entrees were “Pot en Feu” (a lovely braised beef stew with veggies & broth; served in 2 courses. Also, Tournadoes of Beef, Selle de Mouton (Lamb), “Veau” (veal), or “Poulet” (chicken like Capon of Chicken with Mushroom wine sauce). Sausages with macaroni or Lapin (Rabbit stew) Entrees served with a delicious St. Julien red Bordeaux wine in French tall crystal glasses.
Chateau Vegetables were picked daily from the extensive Chateau 4-acres walled garden: they had shallots, carrots, leeks, lettuces, potatoes, spinach, Paris Mushrooms, radishes, tomatoes, celery, petit pois, & green beans. The Huntingtons were partial to Garden Petit pois (Baby garden peas) & Haricot Verts (French Green Beans) with toasted almonds. To make the entrees & vegetables more flavorful & delicious they had such a grand variety of French herbs. The Herb Garden from the Chateau garden had French tarragon, Flat leafed Parsley, Baby chives, Chervil, French Sorrel, Scallions, Lovage, Basil, & French lavender.
Chateau Salad always eaten French-style after the main entree. Lovely French salad greens and herbs were picked fresh daily from were fresh from the Chateau 4 acres garden: Baby Arugula leaves (sometimes called “rocket”), curly lettuce, purple lettuce, French baby sorrel leaves (lemony flavor), French chervil. A wonderful French salad is fresh pear with roquefort cheese bits with arugula & light dijon mustard vinaigrette salad dressing.
The Chateau desserts were many: The French dessert course with a nod to Napoleon III could be “Mille Feuille”, (rectangular shape puff pastry with cream & drizzle with cream & chocolate) & Petit Napoleons. Mrs. Huntington never had a problem with the cook going to the local Versailles village bakery & picking up some divine little French desserts. So many choices: Opera Cake, Chocolate Mousse Tart, Lemon Tart, Creme Brulee, or berry or Fruit tart. Or a birthday chocolate box filled with French “Bonbons” (chocolate truffle candy) with cafe au lait or delicate French demitasse cup of rich hot chocolate as a treat. For someones birthday a special chocolate box was ordered from the French bakery.
Think of the very colorful scene in the movie: “Marie Antionette” with all the fancy cakes & petit fours served in fancy silver trays. The Huntingtons could have all that & more!! Also, delightful Petit Fours, Parisian Macaroons, Creme Brulee, Chocolate Mousse, French vanilla ice cream with French liqueur, Fancy cakes decorated with Garden Raspberries & French champagne grapes, Tarte aux Pommes (French Apple Pie made apples from the Chateau apple orchard), Fancy fruit and berry tarts, petit raspberry or lemon curd tarts . The possiblities are endless with all Fresh fruit orchards of apples & apricots & nuts (pecan & tarts) orange & lemon trees – so much petit tarts & pies they could have baked. Mr. & Mrs. Huntington also both enjoyed tea and French Roast coffee.
Chateau Beauregard “Pot-au-Feu”
Listed often on the Chateau Beauregards “Expenditures” (grocery lists), this French hearty stew is usually served in 2 courses. First, a light flavorful broth, ladled from a lovely soup tureen at the Dining Table into pretty soup bowls. Then, on a fancy large platter, the meat, chicken & surrounded by vegetables and herbs are laid out for the guests to eat. Serve with fresh crusty French baguette & sweet butter.
2 lb. rump roast, chopped
1 veal of oxtail bone, roasted
2 large onions, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
1 heart of celery, including leaves
1 gallon cold water
2 small chickens
6 leeks, sliced
pinch of salt
1 head of cabbage
Bouquet garni: peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, thyme leaves, 6 garlic cloves sliced,
Sprinkle on top French Chervil & French thyme
In a large stockpot, add beef and veal bones, vegetables, & bouquet garni. Bring liquid to a boil & then cook down for 1 1/2 hours. Add chicken to the stockpot, simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Skim fat. Transfer meat & chicken to a platter. Strain liquid through strainer or cheesecloth. Spoon the hot vegetables on a platter. ladle the lovely stock into a Limoges or Sevres soup tureen. Garnish with fresh garden thyme and chervil. Serve with Fresh French Bread. With tongs, place the meat and chicken & vegetable on a platter, garnish with fresh herbs. Recipe: Nancy Armitage adapted from Escoffier’s recipe.
“Creme de la Vanille” French Tea Blend
2 oz. Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea
8 oz. Jasmine tea & blossoms
2 oz. India Black tea
8 oz. lavender blossoms, dried
80 drops Cook’s vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, add tea & herbs. Drop vanilla extract on the tea & herbs one at a time. toss with a spoon, Place in tea tin or air tight container Recipe: Nancy Armitage
Historical Note: the Huntingtons were known to have their own “Huntington Blend” in their New York Mansion. They would add Ceylon tea & India tea to make Orange Pekoe. This tea (above) is a nice French twist of French lavender & vanilla.
Liqueurs at the Chateau Beauregard for after dinner drinks were Calvado (apple brandy from Normandy), Cognac (brandy) Pastis, (anise-flavored aperitif from France), Armagnac (French Brandy) Kirsch, Cream de Menthe (mint), Eau de vie (colorless fruit brandy made of juice of fruit), & Cristaux. A wonderful after-dinner drink to have after a rich meal is the mixture of a little cream de menthe & gingerale or soda water. It is great to settle your stomach.
So many fun things to do at the Chateau Beauregard for the Huntingtons. Mr. Huntington always loved to wonder his properties to see what was going on. Considering he was building his own world class botanical garden at the San Marino Ranch in Southern California – he would have been interested in how they gardened in France. There were animals, goats, chickens, cows, & some horses. there was a orangery and a bird aviary. They had exotic fruit hothouses with fruit & nut orchards (pear, peaches, apples & nuts). The chateau kitchen made conserves made from peaches and the pears and also a tomato conserve.
Outside of the Chateau Beauregard, the Huntington’s enjoyed there Parisian club. Their Parisian club was called St. Cloud Country Club, close to the Eiffel Tower. They joined many Paris charities & had fundraisers for the Paris Hospital with the American Colony of Paris. They had fancy tea in the afternoon at the Paris Ritz & Maxims. They motored to the Lourve Museum to see the lovely paintings. The Huntingtons had many lovely luncheons & Dinners at Hotel Bristol, Hotel Continental, & Maxims in Paris.
HEH Coll. MS 12/ 1-8 Box 1 File 8 (Chat B. papers at Huntington Library San Marino, CA)
HEH Coll MS 659 Box 131 HEH Corespondence (Letter to HEH’s sister Carrie Holliday from H.E. Huntington from Hotel Bristol, Paris)
HEH Coll. HEH 12445 Box 162 HEH Corr (Letter dated July 9, 1923 about Mr. & Mrs. Antoine Miconnet
Historical Note: By the way, there are 5 Chateau Beauregards in France, one in Loire valley, one is by Bordeaux where they make really great red wine, one that is close the LaHarve (Below), & then there is Chateau St. Jean Beauregard with magnificent gardens and then the 5th one was Chateau Beauregard La Celle-Saint Cloud Paris which the Huntington’s leased (1913-1923).