Versailles & Le Chocolat


Photo: wikipedia

It was in the 17th century that Anne d’Autriche, the daughter of the King of Spain, married Louis XIII and introduced chocolate, as Spain held the monopoly on cacao at that time. When Louis XIV married a Spanish princess, Marie-Therese, it was said that she had two passions:  the King and chocolate!  The King considered chocolate as something that satiates the appetite but isn’t filling.  On May 28, 1659, the King granted an officer to the Queen the position of selling a certain composition of chocolate throughout the kingdom and created a corporation of 150 “limonadiers” (beverage vendors) who were the only ones authorized to sell the chocolate drink.

IMG_0056At the court of Versailles, chocolate became fashionable and was served on certain days, no one certain of what
it really was: a gourmandise or a medicine.  Madame de Maintenon, the 2nd wife of Louis XIV, had chocolate served during certain celebrations. However, other opinions at that time stated that chocolate would physically cure your ills and that it would cause palpitations and sudden fever that would continue until death. (Perhaps, that is where the saying death by chocolate originated!?)

The taste for chocolate passed from the court to aristocrats, with France developing the cultivation of cacao in its colonies of Martinique, Les Antilles, and Guyane, but was reserved for rich clients that could afford its high cost.  In 1705, limonadier Pierre Masson introduced a gourmand beverage that consisted of cacao from Spain, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, and sugar mixed with water or milk.

Madame Pompadour, mistress to Louis XV, was the first to order chocolate served in the china/porcelain manufactured in Sevres. At the court of Louis XV, the taste for chocolate continued with the King preparing his own chocolate in his private apartment’s kitchen – chocolate said to have aphrodisiac properties. Madame Pompadour favored chocolate with vanilla and amber in order to heat one’s blood.

Until the 19th century, chocolate was considered a type of medicine, known for its digestive properties.  It was a pharmicien, Sulpice Debauve who was passionate about chocolate, who made the famous chcolate candy with almond milk (pistols de la Reine) for Marie-Antoinette. As chocolatier to the Queen, he invented for her various chocolates made with orchid bulbs for fortification, orange flowers for nerves, and almond milk for digestion.

For more than three centuries, the success of chocolate in the town of Versailles has continued, hosting many artisanal chocolate specialists and local patisseries – a ‘royal’ treat indeed!

Source: Magazine “Versailles” no. 81


Château of Versailles – Une Fête Gallante & Dream come true!

IMG_0025To mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Louis XIV, the Château of Versailles hosted a soirée costumée in la Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors).  As we walked through the royal gate and up to the marble courtyard, musiciens played and a welcome drink/champagne was served.  Once inside, there were baroque dancers performing, aria concerts to attend, baroque dances to learn, and parlor games being played, not to mention the private apartments of the King and Queen & la Galerie des Glaces to stroll through – a very special evening of regal ambiance d’antan!



View France 3 TV coverage: (I appear at 30 sec. climbing stairs in front of the red Cardinal costume) HERE

Attendee’s personal video:
I appear in the dancing excerpt at 3:40 mins.  HERE


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A la Franςaise – A Creative Video

Anyone who’s in the know, knows that I love anything and everything to do with Louis XIV & Versailles and am looking forward to being there again soon for a special event (stay tuned for blog post in June)!

The video (link below) was created by a group of graduate students and is done incredibly well as a tongue in cheek short animated film about life at court in 1700 – creative and amusing entertainment!

See video HERE

What do you think of it?



Versailles, Les secrets des Rois


Video (4 minutes – in French)  HERE

BUT if you watch it on YouTube, you can click on the CC box to choose video subtitles in other languages!


Also, inviting you to check out the blog “Le Bal des Courtisans

and like the Facebook page!

The Art of Baroque Dancing

What is baroque dance?

The term is used to refer to ballroom and theatrical dance of France, other Western European countries, and their colonies during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

Is baroque dance baroque (that is, highly decorated, ornamented, and so on)?

Well, sometimes. The steps can be highly decorated, curved shapes and paths are often used, and the choreographic thread is sometimes elaborately nonlinear.  But it can also have elements of classical order and symmetry, and even simplicity.

So why is it called baroque dance?

Presumably, partly by analogy with music and other arts of roughly the same period, and partly because it does have baroque elements.


The origins of the baroque dance are found in the court at Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV of France in the 1600s. The art of ballet was born under his rule, thanks to his passion for dance. Because of Louis XIV, balls, operas and the baroque dance played a pivotal role in the lifestyle at Versailles.

Baroque dancers at Vaux-le-Vicomte

Baroque dancers


Louis XIV

Louis’ connection with the dance was personal. When he took the throne at a young age, according to, “his authority was opposed by a faction of nobles in a series of uprisings known as the ‘Frondes'”. After the Second Fronde was conquered, “Cardinal Mazarin (who ruled through the regent, Louis’ mother, Anne of Austria)” directed a ballet called “Le Ballet de la Nuit.” In the la Nuit, Louis danced the main role of the Rising Sun. While Louis acted In character as the sun, he warned that anyone who chose to oppose his power “would soon feel his heat.” This threat was directed towards the nobles, reminding them that their opposition to the royal authority would not be tolerated

Dance as a Weapon

After Louis had felt his power as the Rising Sun character, he employed dance with the mindset of it being used as a weapon of State. Due to his enthusiasm for dance, the establishment of the Academie Royale de la Danse emerged in 1661. From then on, other ballets and operas that were composed by other directors such as J.B. Lully, praised Louis as “the wisest, most powerful and benevolent ruler in Christendom.”

The Baroque Dance Spreads

The form of dancing gathered popularity through parts of Europe, England and Spain. Other ballrooms and operas embraced the court dance forms and began teaching what Louis had created. In 1738, French dancing masters traveled as far as Russia, where Jean-Baptiste Lande established a school that gradually became the school of the Kirov Ballet at the Maryinsky Threater. According to, other French dance instructors traveled to the New World where French ballroom dances became popular “in the salons of the governors of New France (Quebec) and later at Colonial assemblies in which George Washington danced the minuet.”

Baroque Dance Evolves

The baroque dance form that was made famous under the Sun King continued to thrive during reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. As the French Revolution began in the late 19th century, the dance grew closer to the modern form of dance known as classical ballet.



The Man Who Would Be King

Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou is recognized as the “Head of the House of Bourbon” and rightful claimant to the French crown by the Legitimist faction of French royalists who also considered him as the senior male heir of Hugh Capet, being the senior descendant of King Louis XIV of France (ruled 1643–1715) through his grandson King Philip V of Spain.Louis_XX

If the French throne were restored, Louis Alphonse would become King Louis XX of France. Louis was born in 1974 in Madrid. He is a great-grandson of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and first cousin once removed of King Juan Carlos I of Spain. He is the successor of the 10th generation from Louis XIV and the great-grandson of the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII.

His supporters usually call themselves legitimists, one of two claimant parties to the extinct throne of France. On February 7, 1984 Louis Alphonse’s older brother Francisco died as the result of a car crash. From then on, Louis Alphonse was considered to be the heir apparent to his father, according to the legitimists.

He was invested with his titles by his father, Monseigneur Duke of Anjou and Cadiz. Among those titles are Duke of Touraine, Duke of Bourbon (this followed the accidental death of his older brother François, age 12), and finally head of the House of Bourbon following the death (also accidental) of his father in 1989.

Perfectly trilingual (Spanish, French, English) with considerable knowledge of Italian and German, he obtained his diploma from the French high school in Madrid and studied economy and finance at the university. Like all Bourbons he is athletic and excels at riding, ice hockey and swimming.

He is an ordinary citizen and currently works in a large international bank in Venezuela and makes frequent visits to France where he has presided over sporting, historical and cultural events in Paris, Versailles, Metz, Marseille, Brest and Vendée.

In November 2004, he married 21-year-old Marie-Marguerite Vargas, a young Venezuelan descended from the Spanish conquistadors, whom he met while a student in Madrid.  They have a daughter and twin sons together. (see photos below)

Louis Alphonse is recognized as His Royal Highness by the French Minister of Justice.


Comments he made during an interview:

“I am Royal Highness both in France and in Spain. In France it was the result of a court decision following the death of my father.  Not only do I have the right to bear the title Duke of Anjou…but also Royal Highness. On my birth certificate is the title royal highness, because my father was royal highness, and my brother who died also. It is also on my ID and my diplomatic passport.

From my father I inherited the hereditary right to the throne of France.  It is an historic and cultural heritage that I consider very important with obligations that I must fulfill. It is obvious that my wife Marie-Marguerite will be at my side.

I am the eldest of the Bourbons, that’s all…We are, that’s all and by virtue of this we assume fully our heritage…Grandeur is not in me, but in the moral heritage that falls to me.

…Sovereignty. That is the highest social function and no State can be without a sovereign. The choice of sovereign determines what the society will be and gives meaning to the State. You can be sure that for tomorrow and for the young who will have to build the new century and give it its values, I will know how to take my responsibilities and assume the heritage of tradition.

The future will be what we make of it…History is there to remind us that there are no irreversible situations.”

Does the monarchy have a future in France?

Yes, perhaps. It contains everything that is lacking today: longevity, the possibility to foresee and to act for the long term; its independence allows it to be an arbiter, a conciliator…because it’s a family, the dynasty reenforces family values in people’s minds; it restores the notion of the sacred, expressed or not in a confession. It is the bearer of the future; having learned, through the centuries, to adapt to the demands of every era, there is no reason why it cannot regain its capacity for adaptation, its mobility.

Published on Nov 22, 2013: Extraits

« Si les Français m’appellent je ne me déroberai pas. Je me sens prêt. Ce sera un changement de vie important, bien sûr, mais les grandes responsabilités ne me font pas peur.   Je suis disponible pour la France. »


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En Francais:

Source: Galliawatch and wikipedia and YouTube

Baccarat Celebrates its 250th Anniversary in Glitter and Glass

By Diane Stamm

To celebrate its 250th anniversary this year, Baccarat, renowned purveyor of crystal to royalty, celebrities, and yes, even just plain folk like us, has mounted a sumptuous exhibition at its headquarters, Maison Baccarat, at 11, place des États-Unis in the Paris 16th. Baccarat. Les 250 ans,which runs through January 24, 2015, presents a retrospective of nearly 250 of the company’s most famous, award-winning, and iconic creations.

The Baccarat brand had auspicious beginnings. At the end of the Hundred Years War, French King Louis XV granted the Bishop of Metz a Royal Warrant to establish a glass-making factory in the village of Baccarat in Lorraine on the banks of the Meurthe River. The factory was to serve as an economic stimulus and to provide employment. The kilns fired up in 1764, and in 1816 the factory began producing crystal.

The company’s prestige and international reputation began with an order for a set of glasses placed by King Louis XVIII following his visit to the factory in 1823. It was Louis XVIII who launched the fashion of the complete glass service in the Russian style, with each glass a distinct size – one each for water, white wine, red wine, and champagne.

The glasses were so admired by fellow crowned heads who dined at his table that they, too, began to order from Baccarat.

The company’s reputation steadily grew, in part thanks to its expert craftsmen, and after Baccarat won all the gold medals for its entries to the Universal Exhibitions at the turn of the 20th century, orders began to flow in from around the world. Today, Baccarat employs twenty-five craftsmen who have won the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Craftsmen in France – more than any other company in the country.

Baccarat. Les 250 ans presents decorative art at its highest quality. And its most dramatic.

The first section, Foli des Grandeurs, showcases monumental pieces such as the Tsar Nicholas II candelabra, and the Ferrières chair, stool, and pedestal table commissioned by 19th century Maharajas and delivered by elephant to them. The section called Alchemierepresents Water, Earth, Air, and Fire, the four elements essential to the creation of crystal.Au-dela de la Transparence (Beyond Transparency) explores the themes of lightness, refinement, and femininity. The Prestigious Commissions section displays some of the most important commissions from heads of state, such as Emperor Hirohito; royal and imperial courts, such as the Prince of Wales; and celebrities, such as Josephine Baker.

So in demand were Baccarat pieces by certain sovereigns that, for example, Tsar Nicholas II commissioned caravans of crystal pieces carried by mules bound for Russia. Through the 19th century, the Baccarat factory operated a special furnace at full capacity dedicated to the production of crystal for the Russian court.

Baccarat’s best-known pattern is Harcourt, created in 1841 when French King Louis-Philippe commissioned a ceremonial chalice engraved with the royal monogram. With its hexagonal foot and flat facet-cut bowl, its design is now nearly ubiquitous, especially in French cafes and brasseries, but it originated with Baccarat.

In addition to being the headquarters of Baccarat and housing a museum, Maison Baccarat also houses a boutique; an elegant restaurant named the Cristal Room; and a ballroom that comes from a Neapolitan palace decorated with paintings by Francesco Solimera, a disciple of Tiepolo. During the first half of the 20th century the mansion was home to wealthy art patrons Viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles and her husband, Charles de Noailles, and was the venue for salons that included diplomats, royalty, actors, and artists.

When Baccarat relocated its headquarters to the mansion in 2002, it hired designer Philippe Starck to redecorate the place. His style is pervasive throughout, beginning with the dramatically lighted foyer dominated by mirrors framed in Baccarat’s signature ruby-red crystal, a color produced by heating 24-karat gold powder.

The boutique sells the full range of Baccarat pieces, many of which are displayed on a very long table set for a grand dinner. Also for sale are all sorts of crystal arts de vivre– lamps, panthers, chess sets, decanters, chandeliers, jewelry, and much more. Of particular note is a large, fan-shaped vase with four exquisitely executed galloping horses etched in gold, the dust swirling under their feet.



You might conclude your visit to Maison Baccarat with a meal at the elegant Cristal Room, overseen by Michelin three-star chef Guy Martin. You will dine off Baccarat crystal and experience a little of the cachet for yourself. And before you leave, be sure to poke your head into the second floor bathroom for a look at one of the most atmospheric rooms – bathroom or otherwise – you’ll ever see.



Musée Baccarat

11, place des États-Unis, Paris 16th

01 40 22 11 00; 011 33 1 40 22 11 00

Metro: Boissière – Line 6; Iéna – Line 9

Museum hours: Mon and Wed–Sat 10am–6:30p; closed Tues, Sun, and holidays

Entrance fee: 7 euros; reduced fee 5 euros; free for those under 18, for students under 25, the unemployed, and the handicapped

Handicapped accessible


The Cristal Room

Tel:  01 40 22 11 10

Hours: Mon–Sat 12:30pm–2:30pm; 7:30pm–10:30pm; closed Sun


Credits: Article & Photos by Diane Stamm

Reblogged from: BonjourParis