Louis XIV, the “Sun King”, was known for his love of women and parties, but perhaps most famously for shifting his court in 1682 to Versailles, the remarkable palace he had built 12 miles southwest of the capital to indulge his luxurious and extravagant lifestyle. Fast forward to 2016 and Alain Ducasse (second picture) is affectionately dubbed “the new king of Versailles”. Following five years of work to the Pavillon Dufour section of the palace (third picture), the chef’s latest venture, Café Ore, opens on September 13 on the first floor, with service during palace hours (9am-6:30pm), as well as in the evenings when it becomes Ducasse au Château de Versailles for private events.
Vegetables, herbs and fruits will be locally grown and “menus will change with the seasons and showcase the finest French products”, explains Ducasse, “cooked in a modern way, but always with a look over the shoulder to the influence of the Sun King”. Read, Ducasse’s signature cookpot of small spelt; seasonal vegetable tart; beef fillet with pepper; and Vacherin meringue dessert.
The café is a prelude to the 20-room hotel and restaurant that Ducasse is set to open in 2018 when, for the first time in its history, paying guests will be able to sleep in the palace from which Louis XIV ruled France.
“Versailles is a dream that fascinates me. It’s a privilege to be asked to make a modest contribution to the contemporary history of the château”, says Ducasse.