I’ve decided that the French take partying to a whole new level. When someone here says costume party they don’t just throw on some sheets (toga) and call it done. Nope, they go all out and rent high end customs from or in the style of the period. And, that was the case for last night at the Versailles Masquerade ball.
While the entry for the event itself is relatively inexpensive for such an event, whereas the costumes – which are rented, will set you back about $120-$150 . We went a couple weeks ago to pick out costumes (a 2-3 hour affair) and then had our friends pick them up while we were away. They came in these gigantic boxes.
Those big wire things? Those are the girls hips. They go under the dresses and stick out like airplane wings. Meanwhile, there’s an ‘unboxing’ of my costume below.
But you know what’s great about all that extra space for the hips? It’s perfect for hydration storage.
We got ready at our friend’s home ahead of time where they cooked up a meal for us – a perfect start to the evening! Which, is a good time to mention timelines. This event doesn’t start till 11PM, and doesn’t end till 7AM the next morning. Oh, and the locale? The famous Chateaux of Versailles.
Unfortunately we lacked a period-appropriate horse carriage to take us the 10 miles to the Chateaux, so instead we piled on the metro system (the RER line C).
Don’t worry though, we met others in costume on the way. After all, there aren’t really too many reasons to leave the city and go to Versailles at 10PM at night.
We arrived at the gates of the palace just as the fireworks show started. As you can see by the shimmering ground, it was a bit wet unfortunately.
As a result, the grounds were turned into one giant Muddy Buddy course – to be navigated at night in heavy and dragging costumes. The women were just thrilled.
After the fireworks show ended around 11PM, we worked our way down the steps into the palace for the actual event. Along the way I got a photo of The Girl:
As we entered through massive wooden doors we arrived in front of a small pool with a hundred floating candles and a performer up top.
As you can see, admission required a period-appropriate costume and mask. And it was cool to see thousands of people all in appropriate attire.
The ball was spread out along a massive arching stone hallway, divided into different performance areas. Throughout the night these areas would come alive with new and different acts.
Many of these acts involved less clothing than a typical beach goer might wear. So in order to keep things around here somewhat PG13, I’ve added things when required.
The main stage rotated every 30 minutes into a different act. For example, there was the topless dancer above and the random wolf (?) head costumed male dancers. And then it switched to a really impressive performance from a man with lasers. Unfortunately, my photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice – thankfully, this YouTube video from a performance elsewhere appears to be the same performer doing a similar show.
Then the stage would head back to other dancing related performances.
Some of which might just have involved a pole. I think it’s admirable that the French take all forms of culture and art seriously.
Outside of people dancing around on a stage without clothes, the majority of the evening involved people dancing around with too much clothes. Notably, everyone else.
You’ll notice the bottle of champagne in the air there. Drinks were not included in your price tag (probably why it was so low), so you had to pick those up individually from the bar. The vast majority of people were buying/drinking champagne.
In addition to the acts on stages, there were also acts that moved through the crowds. These ranged from stilt walkers to gigantic dragons.
Of course, the trick to the entire event is the fact that it goes until sunrise. This was especially tricky for us in that we had arrived to Paris that morning from the US on a redeye flight. So effectively we were double-red-eyeing. Or, said differently: We just stayed on US East Coast time. Sorta worked.
Around 5:45AM-6AM the crowds started to head outside into the orange gardens. In years past, much of the party would have been constantly moving in and out, but with the cooler weather and rain – most of it stayed inside. Though, we did head out into the gardens a few times throughout the night to get fresh air.
Since the weather was slightly better now than the night prior, most of us took an opportunity to get some final photos.
As did The Girl and I:
From there we headed on out beyond the perimeter and walked through the early morning mist back to the metro station. Interestingly, directly to the right you’ll see a bit of grass – that’s where the Versailles Triathlon is held (and directly to the left where the wall is located is the back of the orange gardens where everything above was taken).
Oh, and in case you’re wondering – I walked some 5,164 steps between midnight and 6-7AM. You know, just a typical period-appropriate costume accessory.
Finally, our friends that were there with us this year also were there last year and she put together a huge blog post of lots of photos of last year (when the weather was much nicer). Some really interesting stuff in there (including the white tiger and the large naked lady in the hot tub singing).
With that – thanks for reading!
that’s quite extravagant, French quirkiness. but quite cool.
Thanks for sharing!!
The costume definitely does something for you – maybe you should wear it more often.
I suspect that any attempt to run in your costume shoes would result in rather a lot of pain. Not to mention the ignoble act of have just run off leaving your lady behind to face that which caused you to leg it in the first place.
Sorry but i cant help noticing in your costume but it looks like you have a bit of a belly coming back? Have you been having too many of the girls cupcakes?
Haha, no, the costume was weird in that area in that it had a bunch of layers all converging there. I’m honestly not even sure what half of the layers in that area were even for. Fabric for the sake of fabric.
Relax and don’t censor titty-pictures. You’re living in the free world now. No reason to be afraid of.
Free as my world might be, many folks read the blog from work, whose policies may differ.
Thanks, for many reasons, Ray, for keeping the blog and post family friendly.
Yep! I often read your page at lunch (like right now), and much appreciate the relative SFW-ness.
Agreed. Thank you!
I like the Girl’s dress. Beautiful!
There seems lots of fun in Paris. You had that dinner where you bought your own table and chairs, and now this party in costumes. What’s next?
now that was weird.
Fantastic post Ray. Glad you are having fun there
Cool ! thanks for sharin, Ray! You rock!
Ray, you and the girl are amazing but this feat of flying the red eye and masquerading all night is almost unbelieveable!
I am a great and grateful fan of yours, but are the black bars on the girls really necessary?
Yup, for the reasons noted above in the comments on ensuring posts are safe for work (since they’re topless on those specific photos).
Just curious, as I noticed your friend’s blog that you linked & her being from Dallas, but do you primarily hang out with other US ex-pats in Paris? I’m sure you have a good deal of Parisian friends, but I would think that moving to a new place, and especially to a new country where English is not the primary language, you would naturally gravitate to other Americans.
It depends, we hang out with both Parisian groups as well as native English language folks (US/Canada/UK/Aus primarily). Parisians are a tougher crowd to break into, especially if your French isn’t as good.
It helps though that there are so many awesome Parisian DCR blog readers – so we’ve become friends with a number that way too.
So Cool! Too bad you didn’t wear a heart rate monitor so you could show your calorie burn too!
Très magnifique! I trust The Girl invited the other guests to “let then eat cake.” (From the Cupcakery, of course.)
Good to know that I’m not the only one wearing an activity tracker to formal events 🙂
If I were to surprise my own girl with a trip from Norway to this awesome party, where should I start? How do you get tickets?
You’ll want to check every once in a while in a few months for tickets on the official Versailles website. Once you have that, then you’re good to go.
Did you not consider an appartment in Montmartre? Excellent training for the bi-cyclist and the “stepper”
My daughter and I have attended the Grand Eau many times and in 2010 we decided to attend ‘masked’ as the town has many shops selling masks. During the evening we were surprised to be asked to be photographed with many of the tourists there. At one point we were stopped by security guards who said ‘you do not work for us? ‘ and told us we had to remove our masks. After a short conversation where I had to resort to telling them they ‘had to be joking’ in English and that ‘we were English’ the guards left us be. It was one of the best nights of my life and I believe we must have set the trend for masked balls at Versailles. My daughter and I look forward to attending the ball this year in 2015, maybe as guest of honour………………..
Sounds like a blast. Definitely looking forward to this year!
Where did you rent your costumes from? I’m planning to attend next month, but am traveling from the US just a few days prior and trying to figure out the right costume shop to contact in Paris. Thank you!
Your blog inspired us to go the ball this year! Any tips on last minute costume shopping? We won’t be in Paris until the weekend before the ball. Thanks!
It’s gonna be tough to be honest. You’re best bet would be to reserve something via phone with one of the costume shops as a backup in case they don’t have anything in your size available at the last minute. It might not be perfect – but it’d work.
The shop we use each year is: link to sommier.com
Thanks! I’ll see if sommier or another a shop will take our measurements and reserve something in advance. Thanks so much for the info and all the pictures. I can’t wait to check this out myself!
Thanks so much for your excellent review! Friends and I are heading over for this year’s ball and the only question I haven’t been able to find an answer for is how hot it gets in the indoor spaces? Affects choices for costumes, etc. Would be so grateful if you’d be willing to let me know?