For an authentic and truly unique HISTORY TIME, hink Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, about 40 minutes from Paris. You can even, at times, dress up. This New Year’s Eve promises to be extra-special. Hosted by hotel GM Julién Revah, a traditional costume Ball – wigs, breeches, lace-decorated gowns, if you want – will be preceded by an elaborate multi-course dinner minutely planned by Alain Ducasse, who has, in fact, always closely involved, as have UNESCO and every French heritage group imaginable.
Louis XIV, the Sun King, made Versailles de facto capital of France in 1682 and it remains, for many, the heart of the country. Feel part of history and stay over.
Each of the 14 rooms and suites has its own character. All have original wood floors, and most sport four-posters which, though modern, blend perfectly with Sun King authenticity. There is nothing so mundane as a television screen, anywhere in sight, here at Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle. And the bathrooms are so gorgeous, with Valmont toiletries, that you want to soak for a long time.
But you can swim properly, in the 15-metre pool. If you prefer fresh-air exercise, what about the adjacent Château gardens, manicured and sculpted to provide, since their creation in 1661, the ultimate exercise in perspective. For even longer runs or walks, there are 800 ha of natural parkland at your disposal.
After all that, you could well be hungry. Breakfast, which is included in the room rates, produces the largest flavourful croissants Girlahead has ever seen. At a main meal, I might perhaps choose turbot with fungus but definitely start with a Ducasse special, namely whipped egg whites encasing a yolk, the whole topped by Kaluga Queen’s Gold Caviar.
If this all sounds like a dream, savour it while you can. When you need to come back down to earth, a doorman in 18th century gear, including breeches and white stockings, sees you off – for airport, Gare du Nord or even Champs Elysées.
And now listen to another great Frenchman of taste, Jean-Luc Naret. Hear him here: