Palace of versailles

Dans l’Ore by Alain Ducasse, the first restaurant at the Palace of Versailles

On a cool October day, a man and his young daughter spent the morning strolling through the gardens of Versailles and watched the gardeners pull up what was left of the summer flowers. Around noon, they headed inside to catch up on lunch.

“Do you know who Alain Ducasse is, my darling? He asked his daughter as they browsed the menu of Ore, the 23rd and final addition to the French chef’s mini empire. The 12 year old girl shook her head shyly. She only knew that she was sitting in a restaurant inside the Palace of Versailles.

His father went on to describe Ducasse’s seemingly effortless rise through the pantheon of culinary greats – two Michelin stars at age 27 to The Terrace in Juan les Pinshis third at age 33 at Louis XV in Monaco, followed by an international expansion leading to Ore. “What do you think of the room? She craned her neck upwards, like all the diners on entering the lofty dining room, to admire the modern chandeliers fashioned like golden suns. “It’s beautiful,” she said, beaming.

Ore is certainly impressive, magical even, but for more than obvious reasons. Working in an environment as gilded as Versailles, the designer, Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost for Dominique Perrault Architecture, could have chosen to furnish the space as a period piece, befitting the opulence so prevalent in the chateau. Instead, the design draws on the natural gifts of its location, the Pavillon Dufour – floor-to-ceiling windows, breathtaking natural light, views of the Cour d’Honneur and the Cour Royale – and touches contemporary furniture that recalls the past, subtly and tastefully. Namely: Gold was an unequivocal symbol of royalty and generosity at Versailles, a design element that could not be ignored. Lauriot-Prévost used color with moderation in chandeliers, reception consoles, table tops, dressers and even table tops, in brass, copper alloy and zinc.

Ore’s small dining room, a friendly space, with hints of gold.

Photo by Joann Pai