by Jane Rosenstein and Didier Lambert
During this summer, visitors to Château de Versailles near Paris can enjoy two great shows: La Serénade Royale de la Galerie des Glaces and Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes (Fountain Night Show).
To attend La Serénade Royale it is advisable to make reservations because it is often sold out.
There are approximately 250 visitors for each session with sessions starting at 18.40, 19 h, 19.20, 19.40, 20 h and 20 h 15 for each show which lasts 45 minutes. The sunset provided attractive natural lighting of the castle and with the chandeliers illuminated we felt as if we were transported back to the time of the Sun King — Louis XIV. As we entered the first hall, a man in a costume of Louis XIV’’s era welcomed us with a short speech. We enjoyed the following musical shows in three rooms of the castle:
Dansers and Musicians from la Compagnie Baroque
Musical program of la Serénade Royale
In Vestibule Haut de la Chapelle Royale :
● Allegro, Jean -Marie Leclair, VIe sonate à deux violons
● Menuet varié du 8ème livre, Guignon
● Air du 13ème Concert (Agréablement), Couperin
with two great violin players.
In la Galerie des Glaces
● Air des Sauvages, Jean-Philippe Rameau
● Sarabande pour les Espagnols, extrait du Brougeois Gentilhomme, Jean-Baptiste
● Les Guirlandes, contredanse, livre des Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr
● Menuet d’Armide, Jean-Baptiste Lully
● Air des Paysans, extrait de la Fausse suivant, Mouret
● Menuet de Dardanus, Rameau
We enjoyed the enchanting musical accompaniment, featuring flute and oboe players , that underscored the beautiful choreography of the dancers and movement of their elegant Louis XIV era costumes. Little children enjoyed sitting on the floor to watch the show.
In Antichambre du Grand Couvert :
● Pourquoy, doux Rossignol, Airs & Brunettes, Hotteterre
● Le Rossignol en amour, Couperin
● J’avois juré de n’aymer plus, Airs à deux parties, Chabanceau de la Barre
● Les Bouffons, Thoinot Arbeau & Jacob van Eyck
Watching and listening to the musicians play their music with great joy andenthusiasm pleased the audience. We also enjoyed seeing some of the rooms, including a bedroom once used by the grandson of Louis XIV before he went to Madrid.
Exiting the castle, we entered the gardens for the Les Grandes Eaux Noctures or Fountain Night Show which started at 21.00. Visitors from many countries come to see this special show. Pamphlets with maps of the gardens and explanations in several languages enable them to explore the grounds more easily. Although there are approximately 15,000 attendees each night, there is plenty of room to walk around the gardens and enjoy them. Most visitors come in couples, families or groups.. We saw BBC filming the fountains as part of a program they will present on Louis XIV. The illuminated fountains and Musical Water Displays, presented by the Crystal Group, were enhanced by classical music and fascinating to watch. Food sold in the gardens, including wine and champagne, is reasonably priced. We were surprised to discover a juice bar selling orange juice made from fresh squeezed oranges. It was delicious!
We noticed bubbles enveloping the fountain and thought people were making them until we discovered it was actually a well camouflaged bubble machine hidden from plain view. After we toured some of the magnificent gardens and the Musical Fountains, we walked to the area in the center to see some dazzlingfireworks. Vibrant red, orange, blue, and white colors exploded into beautifulcircular and vertical patterns lit up the sky like a giant kaleidoscope accented byvery bright flames piercing the darkness in another area of the gardens. This was a modern method to enhance the spirit of the Fountains of André Le Nôtre, first gardener of Louis XIV who started the Gardens of the Château de Versailles in 1662. In only 4 years, they were completed and in 1666 the monarch inaugurated the first Grandes Eaux when the water was put in the pools and fountains of the Garden of the Château de Versailles.
The beautiful pyrotechnics were artistically choreographed to French baroque music conducted by Reinhard Goebel and played by Music Antiaua Köln and the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie. The elaborate fireworks display lasting approximately 15minutes and the flames were the work of Christophe Berthonneau and Jeff Yelnik Groupe F.
The Serénade Royale and the Fountains Night Show are two very enjoyable experiences that may be enjoyed on Saturday evenings until September 14, 2013 .