I know quite a lot of people have been expecting the account of our French adventures in Versailles – so here it is. I am afraid it will be a rather a disappointing one, as due to the unforeseen circumstances in the days prior to the event I ended up being on the edge of total exhaustion. Despite managing a short nap at the hotel after arrival, I was still half awake – in fact I really doubted I could go at all!
In the end, I did manage to get my friends dressed and get into my own gown ( I was too busy sewing last minute commissions for this event so I didn’t get time to sort out a new frock for myself – so my old francaise had to do. You have seen it before at the ball in Bath and then in Stamford 🙂 )
The weather was not encouraging – but fortunately the hotel provided us with umbrellas!
And then inside, everybody left the coverings in the cloakroom and got a suitable bracelet, according to which level of tickets people had. We had bought Duc et Duchesse, the middle level which entitled us to see an aria and participate in a private tout of the King’s apartments, as well as do a dance class, It also meant food – something I was very much looking forward to as we were starving. I was dreaming of a coffee too, to keep me awake ( hotel had no tea/coffee making facilities and no time to have one in a restaurant).
As it turned out on arrival – no coffee available – but they had champagne instead. Tough life…
We rushed straight to see the aria – and it was amazing. Fantastic voices, great performance, sublime music – definitely my absolute favourite of the night. It was also great just to sit back, close your eyes and listen to the songs – and I was amazed how much of the French/Italian I actually managed to understand! very relaxing.
After the aria we had a bit of time before the tour, so, without further ado, we made towards the buffet… on the other end of the palace…. En route, photos happened….
another new frock for Eleanor, freshly off the press,
And then, at last we were through the endless posh chambers and into the buffet. And alas, a disappointment. Food was served in fashionable quantities – the canapes the size of a 10p. Most of the ones we saw served were seafood – and no doubt delicious for people who enjoy seafood. I don’t 😦 so my meal was basically one salmon pate thingy and a small cup of beetroot something. On a plus side, lots of drinks available – champagne, and more importantly, juice and water. So yep, next time, if we decide to go back, we will know to have a hearty meal ( and coffee!) beforehand. Desert canapes were served later on – and although still on minuscule scale, they were delicious, so I have added 3 chocolatey thingies to my evening meal. I was still starving, but at least the chocolate subdued my rumbling stomach enough for it to behave and not rumble too loudly 🙂
More photos followed, and we spent some time admiring the professional dancers performing in one of the halls – and there was much to admire, the dancing was superb!
Then it was time for the tour of the King’s apartments. All very grand – but strangely what I enjoyed most was the fact that I understood enough of the guide information to interpret for Kelly and Glen. It was weird, as although I am a trained interpreter and translator, I hadn’t done it for years, never mind in French. So the mental exercise kept me engaged and awake 🙂
And for me that was it really. We were supposed to be attending a dancing lesson, but I could hardly stand. Kelly was not much better, so we found a place to collapse and try to stay awake for the fireworks…
the wait was long – we had another hour to go….
but even modern technology didn’t manage to provide enough stimulation for utterly exhausted brains, and so we left the party, very un- Cinderella like, well before the end:-( WE had hoped to get back to the hotel and get some food in the restaurant there – we were all still on a peckish side.
and yes, it was still raining….
Alas, it is France- so everything was shut. Hungry to bed – but at least I could let my hair down back in the hotel a bit :-)))
And that was it!
So in short – a well organised evening ( I was impressed at the ease with which people were directed to their entertainment places etc – great way of managing such a great crowd. It also meant, since people were going to different places that I didn’t get to meet people we were planning to meet there – probably a good thing as in my zombie state I was not a very good company!). Stunning music and professional dancing ( cannot say much about the short dance class and a communal dance session at the very end as we have missed it); the place suitably lovely ( again, am not the right person to judge – I am not moved much by architecture, I am more of a nature person, so would be much more interested in the gardens, but at least it was a treat to see some of the paintings in person :-), and a great atmosphere.
An event that I wish I had enjoyed more – though for an exhausted and hungry introvert, maybe not an ideal environment. 😦 But a valuable lesson learnt – do not take up last minute work! I came back home ill, and basically slept the for 3 days just to recover enough to get back to work. A mistake I am not likely to repeat in the future…
Oh and as for the costumes – an enormous variety! a good deal of some truly amazing outfits, from late 17th century till late 18th. unexpectedly my favourite garment of the evening was a very simple wool frockcoat – but immaculately tailored, with a great fit and elegance – and for me it just trumped some very splendid satin and embroidery habits. Some gowns were breathtaking – and there were a few divine wigs around! There was a lot of – ok stuff – very clearly rented from a good theatre. But there was also some pretty bizarre stuff too – modern corsets and a skirt , medieval-larpy thing or two – so sometimes it was tricky to take a photo without people showing big zips or velcro at the back ;-). Having aid all that – nobody gave a damn really, and nobody was judging, sneering etc – the atmosphere was great – friendly, welcoming and relaxed. So if you want to go next year but you are afraid your stuff is not up to scratch – do your best, but don’t worry too much – just go and enjoy!
And a few more pics:-)
for the event page – check here –
Dresses – Mine, Eleanor’s, Kelly’s, as well as our gentlemen – me – Prior Attire
photography _ Timelight Photographic