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Insider Tips for Attending the Annual Ball of Versailles

Versailles

Many visitors to the Château de Versailles learn about the extravagant parties and masquerade balls hosted by the Sun King Louis XIV. But did you know you can actually attend one yourself? 

There are two balls at Versailles each summer, both involve elaborate period costumes, but the Fêtes Galantes is in the Hall of Mirrors with Baroque music and dancing, while the Grand Masked Ball is in the Orangerie with contemporary dance dance music and more of a clubbing atmosphere. 

One of the Secrets of Paris readers, Erin Meyer, planned her participation in the latter for over a year. After it was over, she graciously shared some of her impressions and tips for those thinking of attending next year. All of the following photos are hers.

Versailles Ball

“I wanted to let you know that the masquerade ball at Versailles was *astonishing*.  I mean, Heather, holy cow. Some pieces of advice for you/your clients if you ever want to go to the sloppy drunk version, as opposed to the Hall of Mirrors version:

1. Buy only the very highest tier of ticket.  

Yes, I know that’s like $400/ticket, but here’s why it’s worth it: each drink is 13 euros and requires you to stand in line and buy a special token… each time.  You get reserved seating and reserved tables plus reserved dance space so you can be assured that there’s space to sit and people watch when you need a break, otherwise the dance floor is *packed* and you will spend your night being crushed by panniers (the wide baskets beneath the women’s dresses).  Unlimited food and unlimited Red Bull/water help you counterbalance the unlimited champagne/wine/beer.  Really, paying extra for your ticket significantly increases your ability to make it until dawn, so your cost per hour is maybe less? Whatever, it made for an *epic* night and was absolutely worth the months and months of extra saving. These tickets sell out quickly and tend to go on sale in November, so advance planning is key. 

2. Rent from Sommier

Contact them in December/January for the best selection, and they are fine with overseas folks.  Costumes are of great quality, they have a huge range of sizes, and being able to pick up and drop off costumes was incredibly convenient.  I brought mine from overseas and while it was great to guarantee that it was going to fit, no part of that particular experience was convenient (or cheap–we had to ship the wigs to our hotel ahead of time).

Period Ballgown
Erin looking fabulous in her period ballgown and wig

3. Comfortable shoes.  

No joke, I wore straight up gym sneakers underneath my fancy dress and a) no one noticed, and b) I was in very decent shape for the extraordinarily long stumble back to the hotel at 7am.

4. Manage your sobriety.  

It’s a long night, and no one wants to be sober (or sick) at 3am.  Champagne, food, water, mimosa, repeat. 

Sleeping at Versailles Ball

5. For people coming over from North America, that time change is your key to success.  

Fly out Wednesday night, arrive Thursday morning, pick up your costumes, stay on North America time until after the ball, and you’ll find yourself wondering why everyone is so sleepy at 3am, because that’s only 9pm for you.  Party on.

6. DON’T FORGET YOUR HARD COPY TICKETS.  

THEY ARE NOT KIDDING WHEN THEY SAY THEY WON’T LET YOU IN, EVEN IF YOU FLEW HERE FROM AMERICA.  Seriously, they don’t care if you have the email confirmation, pictures of the tickets, anything, they won’t let you in.  We had two people of our 14-person group who were DENIED ADMISSION with their $400 tickets even though their names were clearly visible on the tables in the fancy section.  No hardcopy ticket, no entrance.

face paint

7. These masks were lifesavers. 

You can buy them on Amazon, they don’t rub off no matter how much you sweat, and they’re SO much more comfortable than having something strapped to your face all night.  Make sure you have baby oil or jojoba oil or something on hand before you put them on, though, because they take some work to remove.  And practice before the night of the ball.  You need tiny scissors to cut them out; make sure to remember to pack those.  You will sweat off any foundation or whiteface you might apply, so don’t even bother.

8. The guys were happiest wearing shorts under their rental outfits.

This is so they had pockets, or a moneybelt would work. They all said don’t worry too much about period shoes, just make sure they’re comfortable.  Some of them wore dance tights instead of white socks so they didn’t have to worry about socks falling down or legs being exposed under the knee-length pants.  Since you won’t take off your coat, you could just wear something sleeveless and attach lace to the coat sleeves.  Don’t have a cane or wear gloves or have too big of a hat–you don’t want anything you have to set down or keep track of.

9. Try to meet as many people going from your country as you can before the event.  

The more folks you can chat with and dance with, the more fun you’re likely to have and the later you’re likely to be able to stay up.  You can ask the Versailles ticket office to seat all the people that you’ve met (or even all the people from your country!) together to reduce the language barrier if your French isn’t as fluent as you’d like.  There’s a Facebook page already set up for people attending from the US–if you’re an English speaker, you can meet folks there, and you can post comments on the ball’s Facebook page routing English speakers to that page.  Some of the most fun people we met were new friends we’d only talked to on Facebook!”

Versailles Ball friends
Merci, Erin for the excellent advice!

Find more photos at https://www.facebook.com/BalMasqueDeVersailles/


Check out other dancing options in Paris: Where to Go Dancing in Paris

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  • There are already people posting on the FB group from last year about the upcoming ball: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2082277641861399 It may only be in French at the moment! I would go ahead and post something there in English asking if there are others who would like to start an English group (or if they know of one). You still have a few months. 😉

  • Hey thanks for this post, super helpful! My sister and I are coming from NYC and I couldn't find a facebook group for this year. Is there anyone who is going to the 22nd June Masked Ball who wants to create a group and meet up?

  • Thank you to the lady for making this page and helping with ideas and links !😍 I'm English and would like to travel from Dubai for the may 27 ball 2019 Has a Facebook page been created for this?I'm looking for a high end costume also. And will cover all the links now. So excited about revisiting the past in such a dramatic come true event. Want to make friends before I arrive so I'm not just a wall flower!please say hi. And thank you again for all suggestions! Looking so forward. Please say hi. My email is shaydubai@gmail.com

  • Hai,My husband and I are aiming to attend both fetes galantes and the masked ball in 2019. I have a few questions; where did you get your tickets? And did you guys do your own make up? How much do you think it will cost per person to rent out high end costume?Any other suggestions?Greetings

  • I am going with some friends to the Fetes-Galante in May 2018. Can you tell me about photography? There appears to be a no camera rule on the web-site. Was there a photobooth, concession or other location at Versailles to take photos? I'm tempted to hide a go-pro in my wig but I'm afraid they'd bust me at the door 🙂 Peace all.

  • Hey there – I am wondering where you were able to find information about ticket prices? My group and I are looking for ticket info but its been so hard to find! I sent some emails and I haven't gotten very far, other than that it seems like the prices have inflated. Let me know!

  • I have a ticket for the 24 June 2017 ball – but am unable to come any more! I paid 98 euros + 3 euros postage fee. I have the hard copy ticket with me in Paris. Is anyone interested in buying it from me for the 98 euros? it is not illegal to do so (the box office suggested I do this). you would be helping me out!

  • First let me say a Big " THANKS to Erin! " for allowing me to be part of the "in crowd". I chatted with her on the Facebook page for the ball. It was a BIG plus to know at least a few people at the dance. I'm certain I'll be returning again. Thank you Versailles for allowing me to be Cinderella for one amazing night. XXX

  • I was part of Erin's group, and the only thing I'd add to this is: no matter where you're staying (we were all in Paris for the majority of the trip), rent rooms at the Hotel Versailles (http://en.hotel-le-versailles.fr) for the night of the ball. We were able to come out from Paris in street clothes, get some dinner around the corner from Versailles (if you're going to be up partying all night, you probably want a good meal first), and get dressed at the hotel. We were also able to shower and get back into street clothes before heading back into Paris the next morning.