Welcome to the Sun King’s party
Louis XVI was really quite the party animal – or a ‘soirée’ animal, to use the French word. During his reign, the Palace of Versailles (20km outside Paris) hosted magnificent celebrations. The first party ever thrown lasted a whole week. How’s that for setting a high standard? The Versailles Festival (May 14 – July 14) allows contemporary ‘bon vivants’ to experience the splendour of the 17th and early 18th centuries for themselves.
The Sun King loved strolling around the vast gardens of his palace and, in 1666, ordered the design of a special route that would allow him to enjoy his own private paradise. The fountains played as the King and his court walked along the paths. The Versailles Festival programme includes several walks that recreate this route, from March through to November. During the ‘Musical Fountain Show,’ the plumbers at Versailles make 2,000 fountains ‘dance’ to Baroque melodies. At night they ‘dance’ with light shows and fireworks.
The festival also includes outdoor choir concerts, shows at the Opera and the Royal Chapel, and classical music in the gardens of L’Orangerie. Not to mention the parties. Festivities include ‘gala events’ with private shows, a grand ‘gallant party,’ Baroque dance lessons and a ball, with everyone in period costumes. On top of all this, a spectacular masked ball will take place on June 24, in the style of the festivities Louis XIV organised for his son, Dauphin Louis. A night that magical might even conjure up the spirit of D’Artagnan hiding behind a mask. Who knows?