A Magical Night at the Bal de Versailles
My 7+ year dream of attending the magical masked Bal de Versailles lived up to everything I’d hoped it would be, and more. I already shared the behind-the-scenes of preparing for the Bal de Versailles, but I know you’re dying to see what the ball was actually like. It was MAGICAL. ✨
Watch this (and make sure you turn the sound on):
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The official Bal doesn’t start until 11pm, but guests can arrive starting at 9pm for the fountain and music show. This is open to the public as well (with tickets), so we definitely underestimated how many tourists would be there fun. It took us awhile to get through the initial gardens and fountain near the Chateau because tourists would ask us for photos. We took tons of photos too as it was completely surreal!
The perk of arriving earlier is you have better light (the sun sets around 11pm in June in Paris). It also meant you could clearly see the incredible spectrum of outfits! Best people-watching EVER and people truly looked amazing. If you’re going to go, why not go all out?
The fountain “show” really is music playing with the fountains on. Not much of a show. Around 10:30pm the fireworks started (along with fireballs!). Some of our group arrived later so they got cool photos with the fireworks up by the chateau. My friends I was with by the time watched down closer where they were setting off the fireworks.
When the show was over, the tourists headed home, and the rest of us headed up to the Orangerie where the masked ball took place. It was so cool to get the overhead view of where we were going. There’s a big stairway to head down, and then you walk along a row of illuminated palm trees to the grand entry.
This year’s theme was “space” which you noticed a bit at the entry and some early acts, but didn’t seem to carry through beyond that. There were some pretty impressive costumes of the performers who were part of the entry area. It was a true experience!
Friends who had been in the past had suggested getting VIP tickets, and now I understand why. It’s nice to have a place to sit and take a break. It’s not only hot outside, it’s hot in the costumes, so it does help to pace yourself if you want to make it sunrise breakfast.
My group had regular admission tickets, but by a magical twist of fate got gifted 9 VIP spots the week of the Bal (you receive a wrist bracelet after your ticket is scanned that gets checked when you enter the space). It was sweet having an easy meeting place, own bathroom, bars, and the real appeal: two free coups of champagne (which we dubbed thimbles because those glasses definitely didn’t hold much), and a buffet! Also VIP guests had some truly incredible costumes!
Having food was definitely good for keeping us going. While you’re at a Bal at a chateau one is probably imagining elaborate silver chaffing dishes and a big spread. These were more small bite sized foods you could pop into your mouth. You never knew what was coming next. You weren’t actually sure what you were eating either (not ideal for vegetarians or people with food allergies as nothing was labeled.) Still every time I was in the area, I’d try to get a bit of extra fuel for me.
My only “complaint” of the evening is the lack of water. It was hot! Not unbearable but definitely summer (and it had been sweltering earlier in the day). You were expected to buy bottles of water, which were 7€ a pop. Most of the bars poured the bottles into cups. Our bar seemed to give us the bottle. Some friends would then refill that bottle in the bathroom. While the bathrooms were quite nice for temporary bathrooms, they weren’t actual bathrooms, so the water was not marked potable nor non-potable (no one got sick so think it was good!).
The whole food and drink system worked by a token system (“les jetons”). You could buy a pack there. I ended up only spending 35€ on tokens for the entire evening. Basically soft drinks were 1 token, and alcoholic drinks were 2 tokens. Our VIP free drinks helped. (There are fancier upsells as well with a guaranteed table and unlimited champagne, but I actually preferred the VIP area; the other levels did give you a view of the stage and performers). I was grateful I paced myself with the alcohol because it meant I enjoyed myself more and could make it all night.
The music went all night. Every hour (or maybe twice an hour?) there were main stage performances. They all had a different theme. Some were more acrobatic, others were full on dance. They were fun.
It was great the windows and doors were open for fresh air all night. We often navigated between the dance floor and the VIP area outside so we didn’t have to battle the crowds. I never made it too far without running into one of my friends too, so I ping-ponged between groups all night which was great fun.
Those without VIP would enjoy the cushioned areas along the window wall of the dance area, or have a seat in the garden (chairs or on the grass). Throughout the night you definitely found people asleep! (VIP had the best area for naps too.)
The ultimate goal is to make it to sunrise. Much of our group opted for sleep before then. I’m glad I made it. After the final musical act they announced that coffee and croissants were being served. It felt like a rite of passage!
Alas, the sunrise was more like the lights gradually coming on outside in this epic movie set we’d spent the night in. There was no actual sunrise, at least not one that we spotted.
To complete the experience, I somehow convinced my friends to take public transportation home. We’d taken a van to the event—the right move, especially given the heat and we surely would have been paparazzied! We even had our own carriage of the train—shockingly a 6:30am train [RER C] on a Sunday is not very crowded ;) There were earlier trains, but it was about an hour between trains, so it’s just good to check on Google to make sure you’re not sitting at the station forever. We enjoyed a slow stroll to the station. Versailles is a very charming town.
It most definitely was a night to remember.