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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!