What is the most wonderful event that you have organised?
That’s impossible to say because each event is unique, created and made-to-measure to meet our clients’ objectives. Thinking about it, though, my most precious memories are of the many ‘human’ moments: shared experiences, sensations and laughter.
A successful event relies on excellent teamwork between the client, the agency and the suppliers. Once the different components – technical aspects, weather, timing and more – have all been taken into account, everyone must have the same vision. If the team chemistry works, the event will too!
That’s how I usually respond to such a question, which explains the DNA of ‘A la Carte Events’, but often those asking are not totally satisfied. Looking from the outside in, our profession makes you dream and our clients are often curious to know what has been our most beautiful dream come true!
My client asked for the most beautiful place in Normandy
Here’s a story about a client, whose identity is not important (in any case, confidentiality is our watchword). Three years’ ago, an American client wanted to organise a reception in Normandy for his company’s Board members.
I’ll fill out the picture a bit first. The team consisted of our American client, their French subsidiary, their agency in New York and my agency. All of us worked together regardless of the obvious difficulties: different culture, different language, different ways of working, time differences.
In his brief, the client had indeed asked me for the most beautiful place in Normandy. I immediately knew where his event should take place and that only there would do! However, I needed to convince my client that the right place for his event was the Château du Champ de Bataille.
Champ de Bataille is a magical place and I adore it. I have seen it completely transform itself over the 25 years that I have known it.
In the middle of a meadow, sleeping
I had known of this property before Jacques Garcia acquired it during the 1980s. The house was empty of all furniture, the woodwork all gone, brick walls and floors all bare. The slumbering building was set in the middle of a meadow with cows chewing the cud in front of the stone step to the garden door. Despite the need for a tremendous amount of work, an extraordinary atmosphere emanated from the imposing building, bathed in light. The 17th century architecture and the symmetry of the two main buildings demanded admiration and inspiredthoughts of what stories they might hold.
I returned when the renovation works had just started, having organised photo shoots for Paris fashion magazines, in particular for Lisa Lovatt-Smith and Condé Nast.
The building was changing in front of my eyes under the leadership of Jacques Garcia. The woodwork was reinstated; the gold-leaf decoration arrived along with the furniture collections. Everything was being put back in place.
When you arrive at Champ de Bataille, you are invited into a private home that lives all year round; it is not a visit to a museum.
At that period there were many Norman châteaux stuck in the past as the children of the owners didn’t have either the desire or the money to take care of their inheritance. This was the first time I saw an example of Normandy history brought back to life and because of an owner with such passion and panache.
I was lucky enough to continue to visit Champ de Bataille and to organise private tours for small groups with the help of Mélina, assistant to Monsieur Garcia. Very soon afterwards, Champ de Bataille was one of the very first places to offer total access, including to the private apartments of Jacques Garcia, to visitors passionate about historic buildings and curious to see such a château. This met with great success and it continues to this day. And why? Because when you arrive at Champ de Bataille, you are invited into a private home that lives all year round; it is not a visit to a museum!
With work completed on the house, Jacques Garcia turned his attention to the creation of the gardens. Remember that in 1989 there were only fields… Visit Champ de Bataille today and you will understand what has been achieved after 20 years of work. It is certainly one of the largest private gardens created in the 20th century.
And it continues to evolve.
You can understand that for me, the opportunity to organise a spectacular event at Champ de Bataille was irresistible.
And so I did. The magic of the place enthralled my client from our first site visit together. We were totally in accord and I knew that he had total confidence in us to organise his event as he wished while respecting the history and soul of the place. Jacques Garcia even ensured that the fireworks were the same colour as in the days of Louis XIV: SILVER AND WHITE!