Versailles, Fetes Galantes 2016…

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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 🙂 )

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at the hotel, ready for the short walk to Versailles

The weather was not encouraging – but fortunately the hotel provided us with umbrellas!

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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…

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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….

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Kelly in her new Francaise, striding like a queen through the corridors of Versailles!

another new frock for Eleanor, freshly off the press,

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meeting friends…

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and posing for photos…

 

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Meeting the followers of my page! :-)))

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 🙂

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at the bar…

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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!

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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 🙂

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my gown went well with the decor…

 

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In fact, I  became almost invisible in the official royal bedroom….:-)

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…

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the wait was long – we had another hour to go….

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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.

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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 :-)))

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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:-)

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 for the event page – check here

 Dresses – Mine, Eleanor’s, Kelly’s, as well as our gentlemen – me –  Prior Attire

photography  _ Timelight Photographic

6 thoughts on “Versailles, Fetes Galantes 2016…

  1. Wow what a great event! (although a shame you weren’t fed a little better!) I thoroughly enjoyed reading this especially as I am enjoying Versaille on the TV at the moment! Thank you for sharing… one day I would love to attend these events.. who knows? Hope you are feeling a little better.. sounds as if you need a holiday!

  2. Beautiful photos! What a grand event. Some friends of mine from here in the U.S. attended as well. Oh how I would have loved to go! There are never enough opportunities here to wear my silk francaise.
    -Emily

  3. Oh, you were there too!
    I was too, but with the “marquis ticket”, so no food for us…except in the hotel before departure!
    We had the two concerts. I think the dance lesson is not realy interesting if you already know some dances: too many people, a dance wich is not so fun. But I’m a purist you konw. 😉
    I’m happy you love it despite your tiredness.

  4. Thank you for sharing. What a wonderful trip! Hope that you are better and rested. I’ve been thinking of a pannier dress and you have definitely inspired me! Still working up the courage, though. 🙂

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