Charles III State Dinner for a King: Midst an aura of regal opulence, the Palace of Versailles played host to an illustrious gathering on Wednesday. French President Emmanuel Macron extended a formal invitation to England’s monarch, Charles III, marking the commencement of the British sovereign’s three-day sojourn in France. The grand tableau unfolded within the hallowed Hall of Mirrors, setting the stage for a culinary spectacle that left no stone unturned in its pursuit of gastronomic excellence.
The feast, an extravagant affair expected to grace the palates of 150 to 180 esteemed guests comprising government dignitaries, industry titans, and luminaries from the realms of arts and entertainment, offered a tantalizing voyage through a meticulously curated menu. Spanning a spectrum of flavors and textures, the gastronomic itinerary unfolded as follows:
A striking curtain-raiser featuring blue lobster and pot crab, elegantly ensconced in a gossamer veil of fresh almonds and mint.
Bresse poultry, imbued with the delicate essence of corn, embraced by the decadence of a porcini gratin.
A triumvirate of cheese delights, including a thirty-month Comté, a log of goat’s cheese, and the pièce de résistance—a Stichelton, an unabashedly English blue cheese, complemented by a luscious Mirabelle plum jelly.
The pièce de résistance, a symphony of flavors orchestrated by none other than the renowned pastry maestro, Pierre Hermé. His magnum opus, the ‘Ispahan,’ graced the occasion, bedecked with a resplendent pink macaroon and accompanied by a refreshing lychee sorbet.
In the hallowed sanctum of the kitchen, culinary luminaries Anne-Sophie Pic and Yannick Alléno assumed their culinary posts. Both bear the coveted three-star mantle from the Michelin Guide since 2007. To seal the evening with an indulgent flourish, the legendary Pierre Hermé took the reins, crafting a dessert that will linger in the collective memory of attendees.
The gastronomic spectacle unfolded upon the world-renowned Duplessis bird service, a masterwork in Sèvres porcelain, and was accompanied by libations presented in the most exquisite Baccarat crystal glasses.
Charles III State Dinner for a King: Charles III’s Extravaganza at the Palace of Versailles
The choice of Versailles as the backdrop for this sumptuous gathering, replete with historical gravitas and a legacy tied to the Sun King, Louis XIV, has sparked debates, potentially rekindling the image of absolute monarchy in a France grappling with contemporary challenges. However, the Élysée Palace firmly dismisses any suggestion of absolutism, clarifying that the selection of Versailles primarily aligns with Charles III’s desire to walk in his mother’s footsteps and to showcase France’s grandeur through one of its most esteemed landmarks.
Versailles has previously hosted royalty from across the English Channel, as evident in ceremonial lunches for Edward VII in 1903 and George V on the eve of the Great War in 1938. These events served as symbols of friendship and mutual support amid the turbulent backdrop of impending conflict. Elizabeth, Charles III’s mother, was also honored with a reception at the Hall of Mirrors during her inaugural state visit in April 1957, following the Suez Crisis. Of her six official visits to France, three left an indelible mark on the storied halls of Versailles. Charles III State Dinner for a King: Charles III’s Extravaganza at the Palace of Versailles.