Excursion report by Sharon Stammers – Light Collective
“We will always have Paris…” says Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. One of the most famous quotes, one of the most famous cities in the world, one of the most famous buildings…
Despite visiting Paris many times, I had never been to Versailles so was really pleased to be squeezed onto the guest list for the heavily oversubscribed trip organised by eldoLED as part of PLDC. The Sun King’s Palace of Versailles is a symbol of absolute monarchy and architectural splendour and has recently been externally re-lit by a partnership of Les Eclairagistes Associés from Lyon (Laurent Fachard, Joseph Frey and Erwan Courtel), SoliLED and eldoLED. The trip was popular not just because of the fame of the building but because it was an after dark private visit, which was a unique opportunity as the Palace is not normally open for events like this.
On arrival, we waited at the closed gates which were opened specifically for us and we were able to spend some time admiring the front facade. The colour of the lighting was warm and golden and complemented the building and its history perfectly. We were then taken on a guided tour of some of the highlights of the Palace. This included the opera theatre, the chapel, suites of royal rooms and the beautiful Hall of Mirrors. It was particularly special to be in this light-filled space without the normal hordes of tourists and to experience the room alone.
Finally, the ‘pièce de résistance’ of the trip came as we exited to the incredible gardens to view the new exterior lighting scheme that eldoLED had helped to create. After walking toward the fountains, upon looking back at the building, a breath-taking lighting design was revealed. The whole facade was alive with golden and flickering light mimicking thousands of candles. The eldoLED drivers were programmed to randomly flicker, creating a beautiful backdrop to the programmed fountain show. A special detail was the repeat of this effect on all of the statues. The effect en masse was stunning and transported us back to the reign of Louis XIV when the gardens and architecture would have been lit in this way. Many photos were taken.
The evening finished with champagne and a short talk from the lighting designers on the project who explained the process and execution of the design.
Many thanks eldoLED for this experience. Everyone lucky enough to come felt that they had experienced something very special.
Lighting design was done by Les Eclairagistes associés (M. Laurent Fachard). The lighting designers mimicked the thousands of candles that used to light the façade and park during the reign of Louis XIV.
Photography by Xavier Boymond