On Friday, we recounted several exclusive events from the four-day trip to Paris with the American Friends of Versailles (AFV), including visits with the first lady of France, HRH Prince Charles de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, and the American Ambassador to France.
But the trip’s high point was private time at Versailles Palace away from the crowds, touring the premises, admiring the three projects AFV sponsored there in honor of Franco-American fellowship, and attending an extraordinary black-tie evening with champagne and dinner served in the elegant palace chambers.
ADMIRING THE RESTORED CEILING
Our trip commenced in the Queen’s Guard Room, where we admired the Louis XIV ceiling paintings we had raised funds to restore.
DINING WITH DUCASSE
After private guided tours, we dined in Alain Ducasse’s new Ore restaurant in the palace.
PREVIEWING AN EXHIBIT OF GARDEN PAINTINGS
The very first AFV project was restoring the Bosquet des Trois Fontaines, a mini-garden on the premises. Its original state was depicted in an exhibit of 17th-century paintings we previewed at the Trianon.
PRIVATE TOUR OF MARIE ANTOINETTE’S FANCIFUL “FARM”
The Hameau, or “hamlet,” where Marie Antoinette played at being a peasant girl, has recently been fully restored. We were shown through its rustic buildings.
BLACK TIE GALA
Wednesday night, we returned to the palace decked out in jewels and gowns for an evening that opened with champagne served in the Hall of Mirrors.
Proceeding through the King’s Apartments, we were joined by the royal family for a reception in the elegant Salon d’Hercule, one of the palace’s most elegant rooms.
Dinner was served in in the Haut Vestibule of the Royal Chapel. After a surprise musical interlude of organ music, guests were entertained by fireworks on the terrace overlooking the garden.
Photography by Francis Hammond, Keva Studio, Sharon Hoge, Jeanne Lawrence, and Michèle Fieschi-Fouan.