Attending Versailles Fetes Galantes 2018

Has it really been almost a year since I’ve updated?  Really?  That went fast.  I’m ashamed.  Life comes (and goes) quickly, and seems to go even more quickly when you’re juggling multiple projects (did you know my main job is as a jewelry designer? You can check out my brand Rkt over here).

But you’re not here to read about my horrible procrastination – you’re here to read about the good stuff.  And ooooooh boy this stuff is some of the best stuff!

Versailles Fetes Galantes!!!

The chateau at Versailles is amazing at throwing events throughout the year, and a few years ago they decided to introduce their own costume ball.
There’s actually two costume balls at Versailles currently – this one that focuses on historically accurate costumes, and the Masked Ball which is a seeming free-for-all.

Whenever I’m traveling in Europe I broadly google “events happening in Europe (whatever month)” and a year and a half ago I stumbled upon the Versailles Fetes Galantes.  I, unfortunately, couldn’t find anyone to go with me last year so I set out to attend the 2018 dates.  I speculated about when the dates would be based on previous years and booked a few hotels near the Chateau in preparation.  I highly recommend doing this through some place like Booking.com – take advantage of their free cancelations and lock it down as soon as possible!

I roped three of my best friends in to going with me and we planned a great little Euro trip around the event.  Two days before the ball we arrived in Paris and spent the day wandering around.  The day before we headed out to Versailles!  It was my first time visiting so I was keen to spend as much time exploring the gardens as possible.  Try to get to Versailles before noon, as you can then head over to the market and grab all the delicious snacks your heart desires (note that the ball this year was on a Monday and the market is not open on Monday…actually a lot of Versailles isn’t open on Monday as the Chateau is closed).

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Visiting Petite Trianon
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Marie Antoinette’s little village

The next morning we all got up early, scrounged up some breakfast and then headed out to see the Gardens.  Pro tip: Rent one of the golf carts!  Save your feet because you’ll need them for the ball!

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Getting ready.  When I was in cosmetology school many, many, many years ago I used to kidnap all of the mannequins and give them 18th century updos. Was super excited to do it on real hair!

The ball has become a bit notorious for bad weather and the forecast for that evening was looking grim, so as soon as we were dressed we rushed over, sprinkles just starting to fall as we arrived to the gates of the chateau.

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All fancied up! It was absolutely surreal being in costume and standing in the Marble Court.

Each of us ladies made our own costumes.  Material is super expensive in Japan, so I picked up my silk when I was back home in LA the previous November.  We decided to coordinate because….well, we’re freaking nerds like that.

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Rushing photos outside because it was about to pour.
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Full shot of my dress.  I used the Simplicity 3637 pattern and altered it to suit my design ideas. If there’s enough interest I can write up a post about the dress construction.
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My friends are perfect.
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Hall of Mirror Selfies
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“Was it hard walking around all those people in such a wide dress?” Yes, yes it was.  Now try to imagine going in to a bathroom stall.

We went for the cheapest ticket option that was available, which I think in the long run was the right idea.  All tickets include events throughout the night (concerts, dance lessons, private tours) and the higher end ones included food, drinks, places to sit, and different tours.  If we were to go for the higher end ones in the future, it would be to see the other rooms that are not open to the general public.  The food and drink options available for purchase were great!  5 euro glasses of wine and inexpensive, delicious food.

When you buy your tickets, you’ll choose the timing for your events.  If you’re interested in dancing lessons, buy your tickets early!  There are limited slots for the lessons and they sell out fast.

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You won’t want for photo opportunities! The windows looking over the gardens at dusk were magnificent.  A lightning storm started right after this and we just…stood and enjoyed it. Perfection.
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There are games scattered throughout the galleries and people there to teach you how to play them.  Here’s a shot of all of us!  Garrett was a trooped and acted as our photographer all night, so unfortunately there aren’t a load of full group shots.
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End of the night when you just don’t care about redeye any longer.
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“My feet are done.”  Don’t leave before midnight, though!  You don’t want to miss the fireworks show.

Overall, the whole experience was one of the best of my life.  Versailles itself, the ball, and my amazing friends all mixed together to make this an event I’ll never forget.

Decided to try something new with the footage we all took.

Logistics:
Getting there –  There cheapest way to get from Paris to Versailles is by train.  If you are 4 people lugging around a ton of luggage full of 18th century dress, however, I’d opt for an Uber.  It costs roughly 50-60 euros and takes about 45 minutes without traffic.

Tickets – Buy your tickets through the Chateau Versailles website here.  Buy them early if you would like to get one that includes a dance lesson.

Where to stay – Hotels around the Chateau are super reasonable!  I’d recommend staying close enough to walk over because, let’s face it, those pannier are not easy to get in to a car.  Book a few options early if you’re not sure (just make sure they’re cancelable).  There are also lots of AirBnB options.

At the ball – Be kind to your feet and maybe don’t wear super high heels, as you’ll be up and about most of the time.  There is food and drink available for purchase at super reasonable prices.

Costume – Honestly, don’t stress too much about being 100% historically accurate.  By all means try, but don’t worry too much about it.  Can’t sew yourself?  The Chateau website lists a few places that you can rent costumes from.

Planning on attending next year? Let me know!

 

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18 thoughts on “Attending Versailles Fetes Galantes 2018

  1. Do you plan to go to Fetes Galantes again in 2019? You looked so beautiful in your Costumes. Great hairdo!. Can’t believe you made the dress yourself. You inspire me to go for Fetes Galantes myself. I am just afraid they all speak French. I might feel lonely if no friends to go with me. Not sure how to attend the dance if I don’t understand French instructions. I am learning regency dance so assume French court dance is not too different.

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I’m planning on going next year (not sure if I’ll make a new costume, though).
      There’s people from all over the world that go, so don’t worry about communicating! I met so many wonderful people. And if you see me, feel free to say hi! I found the dance easy to follow, but I’ve always learned choreography just from watching instructors. I’m sure you’d pick it up easily!

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      1. Hello – can you please tell me what pattern you used for your costume? We are taking my 80 plus year old mother for a mother/daughter/granddaughter event and we are all making our costumes…. thanks!

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      2. How fun to make it a family trip! I used an out of print Simplicity pattern that I’ve had for over a decade. Simplicity now has a robe a la Francaise pattern by American Duchess. There’s also a good one from JP Ryan.

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  2. I stumbled onto your blog looking for more info on the Fetes Galantes and your dress is gorgeous! I’m really hoping to go next year (2020) and was wondering when was the best time to buy tickets — in the fall? thanks!

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    1. So sorry for the very delayed response! I’d buy them as soon as they go on sale. Spots are limited for the tours/events so if you want to get all the activities you prefer, get your ticket asap.

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  3. What a lovely blog post! I am a PhD fellow planning to attend the Fete this year as part of my research into Charles Perrault, fairy tales, and the depiction of women at court. Please let me know if you would consider creating a custom gown or if you would consider renting yours. It’s perfect.

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  4. Hello! I loved your blog. Your photos and dresses are amazing!! Very informative, as 4 of us are planning on attending in 2020. Couple quick questions – firstly, the pannier you used for your dress, was it just the pannier by your hips, or did you use a full petticoat, as well, to get your skirt part to flare out like it did? I would like to get the same look for my dress.
    And, also, may I ask where you stayed?(apologies, if I missed it in your blog.) Did you have enough room in your hotel room to get ready? And we would all like air conditioning.. 🙂 Was it too hot at the time you went? Thanks so much!!

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    1. Hi, thanks for reading!
      The panniers I made are full “court hoops”, so think of a normal hoop skirt that is made in to an oval shape – that’s kinda what they look like. My underskirt also has a still tulle in it to help hold the shape. You can definitely add a petticoat with a kick ruffle on the bottom to help with the shaping, though (and I’d recommend that for a dress this wide).
      We stayed at the Hotel Le Versailles. The rooms were very spacious and we have more than enough room and AC. It was pretty warm last year! Everyone had their fans going a mile a minute.

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  5. Hello:) may I ask how much it cost for the tickets for the event. I have seen a few different prices and can’t figure out which is the correct on:)? Thank u

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