Alain Ducasse Is Now Serving Versailles – plus Where Else You Should Be Eating This Year

Interviewed by Kimberley Lovato

Behind the gilded gates of the Château de Versailles, Alain Ducasse recently opened the first full-service restaurant inside the French royal palace. With a name that’s Latin for “mouth” and similar to the French word for “gold,” Ore serves lunch with a sparkle of history and approachable sophistication. In the evening, the space becomes Ducasse at the Château de Versailles, a private event venue for 2 to 124 guests.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES? It’s part of the larger project that began in 1997 to better accommodate visitors through the newly renovated Pavillon Dufour, where the restaurant is located, and the Pavillon Gabriel. The château managers wanted a restaurant, so I created one with two faces: Ore, a contemporary French café open during the day, and Ducasse at the Château de Versailles, for elegant private dinners.

At Ore, you can feast on a croque monsieur or a salad, as well as scallops or a fillet of beef with foie gras. Diners at Ducasse at the Château de Versailles get an idea of how the king might dine today, with menus, uniforms, and even table settings adapted from the eighteenth century.

IF YOU HAD THE ESTATE TO YOURSELF FOR A DAY, WHERE WOULD WE FIND YOU? In the garden of the queen, near the Queen’s Hamlet that Marie-Antoinette had built. Six years ago, Alain Baraton, the château’s chief gardener, and I decided to replant it. Now it produces exceptional vegetables and fruits that I use in my restaurant at the Plaza Athénée in Paris.

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD? There are so many, but I’d like to mention four: Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York; D.O.M., the restaurant of Alex Atala in São Paulo; Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet in Shanghai; and Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy.

WHAT’S TO LOVE ABOUT PARIS IN THE SPRINGTIME? It’s probably the most beautiful season to savor Paris: Every hour has its charm; every street is a discovery. There are shops, bakeries, butchers, brasseries, and bistros, each one more exciting than the last. So much so that I wrote a book, I Love Paris, that unveils their addresses.