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There was an awful lot going on in Chantilly last Sunday. For the third year, the magnificent Domaine d’Chantilly castle and grounds outside Paris were opened up to hundreds of classic cars and thousands of classic car lovers in a celebration called Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille. Richard Mille is a watchmaker and sponsor and Domaine Chantilly is a treasured cultural centerpiece of French history with an 800-year heritage. All the above and more come together the first Sunday in September in a perfectly wonderful celebration of great cars.

First and foremost you have to understand that Concours were invented by the French in the 1920s as a venue to showcase new cars from established automakers. Somewhere along the line after we Americans adopted the Concours they became showcases for restorations of beautiful old cars. Both are old and new are joined together at Chantilly in a celebration that spans the history of the automobile.

The part that we would think of as a Concours, what you could call the old car category, is what they call here the Concours d’Etat. This year it featured 21 classes of cars from all over the world. Best of Show was won by American Jon Shirley, who entered the same 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B with which he’d won Best of Show at Pebble in 2008. It was a car he had driven many a mile in rallies and tours all over the world, including the 8C Tour in Wyoming and the Mille Miglia in Italy.

“It’s a great car to drive,” Shirley told us in 2008.

And presumably is still.

Another American, indeed another Californian, Peter Mullin, won the first Concours d’Etat at Chantilly in 2014 with a 1937 Delahaye 135M wrapped in coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi. Dutch collector Evert Louwman won it last year with a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster.

Then, in the Concours d’Elegance, it was another show altogether. Eight carmakers competed with relatively new concept cars for Best of Show, as well as three other awards. Entries lined up from Aston Martin, BMW, Bugatti, DS Automobiles (the luxury arm of Groupe PSA/Citroen), Lexus, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce. The makers of each car collaborated with various design houses to present not only the automobile but also a matching fashion ensemble. As each car rolled out, a model walked alongside, swathed in a dress that matched the car. All except MV Augusta, where the leather-clad model rode a motorcycle in. That was cool.

We had seen most of the cars already but that was fine, you can’t get enough of these rolling sculptures. Best of Show went to the DS E-Tense, a 400-hp electric supercar that debuted last March in Geneva. It was matched with a fashion creation of Eymeric Francois. DS Automobiles started out in 2009 as the luxury arm of Citroen only, then aligned with the larger Groupe PSA parent company. The 400 hp is matched with 381 lb ft of torque for what DS claims is a 0-100 km/h time (0-62 mph) of 4.5 seconds. We’d like to try that out, s’il-vous plait.

Also in the Concours d’Elegance, the “Prix Public” crowned the Mercedes-Maybach 6 Vision associated with a dress created by Jean-Paul Gaultier. The prize for the motor car and fashion combination for the most beautiful ensemble went to the 570GT by McLaren Special Operations with a model also dressed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. And a special prize was awarded to the new “atelier” motorbike by Zagato, the work of the master coachbuilder from Milan for the Italian manufacturer MV Augusta, which saw its world premiere at Chantilly.

FIA president Jean Todt was honored with a collection of cars he had either navigated in rallies or managed as race cars in his 50-year career (so far), including the Peugeot 504 Rally Group 4 car, which was present along with the car’s driver at the time he and Todt won the Rally Argentina in 1979, Jean Guichet.

There were also automobiles from 40 car clubs that made the trek to Chantilly, bringing with them 800 cars, according to organizers.

“We brought to the third event all the experience we acquired in the two previous ones,” said organizer Patrick Peter, who pointed out the new Supercar Rally held the day before the Concours. “It’s an important link that we want to establish and develop with manufacturers of exceptional cars, which I hope to see more of at our event in 2017. Thanks to the awards given to the first two, our concours is now acknowledged as one of the best and most beautiful in the world. This is an important factor in the eyes of the manufacturers. We also have to attract a bigger crowd to reach a figure of 20,000 or 25,000 spectators in the next few years. It took several Le Mans Classics to achieve this number. Thus, I feel confident about the future of Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille.”

So do we, mon ami. Hope to see you next year. Bonne chance!