Report from Versailles: Pain au chocolat to peanut butter toast

Vonda at Versailles - Photo by Sean McNamara

Vonda on Chapel Balcony

By Vonda N. McIntyre

Monday. The chateau de Versailles is closed to the public on Monday, so the production of The Moon and the Sun had permission to film inside during the day. It was the last day of filming in France. Tomorrow, the production would head to Melbourne for studio work, and I would head home to Seattle.

A lot was going on and I, a visitor, wanted to stay out of the way. I found myself on the King’s Balcony, above the Chapel where most of the filming was going to happen. It was an excellent vantage point. Director Sean McNamara appeared, to check out the scene from above, and took several pictures of me with my phone. It isn’t every day one gets directed and gets one’s picture taken by a movie director. Especially on a day when time is precious. I really appreciated his courtesy.

When I first arrived almost a week before, after producer Bill Mechanic introduced me around, I took my fallback position of staying out of the way and being vewwy vewwy quiet. I was sitting on the floor at one end of the Hall of Mirrors while they were filming at the other end. (I should mention that on most sets there would be plenty of chairs for everybody, but the Hall of Mirrors is a floor above ground level. The stairs are narrow and twisty or large and marble, neither suited to the transportation of equipment. Everything had to be brought in with a crane. Including the chairs. So chairs were at a bit of a premium.)

Between shots, Pierce Brosnan spotted me. “Vonda, you must have a chair!”

“Really, I’m okay—”

“You’re the author, you must have a chair.” And he found me a chair next to Sean, who agreed that I must have a chair. It was the perfect place to see the scenes as they were being shot, and the playbacks.

When the King and God (have you seen The Stunt Man? If not, go thou and see it, and you’ll get the reference) say you must have a chair, you get a chair.

Louis watching Louis watching Louis, in Sean's chair

Louis watching Louis watching Louis

Watching the playbacks is much different from watching the scene live — Live, you’re watching from behind the cameras and the lights, standing with a group of people. Watching the monitor, you experience the collaboration among actors, director, producer/screenwriter, director of photography, choreographer, costume designer, musicians, and composer. You see how beautiful it’s all going to be. The dance scene in particular blew me away. (Not going to tell you too much about it because you have to see it.)

Producer Paul Currie interviewed me on the last day. I have mostly no idea what I said, besides “I feel like every other word out of my mouth is ‘amazing,’ and every other other word out of my mouth is ‘It’s going to be so beautiful!’”

Selfie (hair) at Fountain of Apollo

Fountain of Apollo

Versailles put on the most amazing weather the whole week I was there. It was the Platonic Ideal of spring weather — blue skies, little puffy clouds, perfect temperature. Between setups, I played hooky for a bit and walked down le tapis vert to the Fountain of Apollo to take a few pictures. Is it a “selfie” if the only part of you that shows is a bit of your hair? Sean’s photo of me is a lot better than my photos of me.

And all too soon it was over.

Wrap party. Good-byes and thank-yous. I joked that I almost didn’t recognize Pierce Brosnan, pouring wine for the cast, without his Louis XIV hair. (But really I did.)

Dinner with Amanda and Scott, the IT folks who took pity on me — I must be the only person in the universe who could go to France and find an aggressively mediocre restaurant (however, the service was terrible) — and took me to a wonderful restaurant where we had lamb and red wine and a dessert of profiteroles.

One last terrific breakfast at the Trianon Palace Hotel, where the very charming Eric served pain au chocolat and café au lait.

It’s a big change back to peanut butter toast and coffee, which is what I usually eat for breakfast.

On the other hand, here’s how Seattle welcomed me home:

Seattle Rainbow

Welcome Home

 

It’s good to have an adventure. And it’s good to be home.

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About Vonda N. McIntyre

Vonda N. McIntyre writes science fiction. Her most recent ebook is the short story "Little Sisters," a companion piece to her Nebula-nominated story "Little Faces." She is the author of The Moon and the Sun (Nebula), Dreamsnake (Nebula, Hugo, Locus Award), and the Sherlock Holmes Scientific Romance "The Adventure of the Field Theorems." Her backlist is available at the BVC Ebook Store. For signed hardcovers of her SF novels, visit her website’s Basement Full of Books. The Moon and the Sun has been filmed as a major motion picture, "The King's Daughter," starring Kaya Scodelario, Pierce Brosnan, and William Hurt. Vonda visited the filming at the chateau de Versailles, and wrote several blog posts about the experience.
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8 Responses to Report from Versailles: Pain au chocolat to peanut butter toast

  1. Surely Pierce Brosnan did his reading up on Louis XIV, specifically Saint-Simon’s many, many volumes of memoirs in which he whines constantly about the encroachments of the king’s bastards among the the pure-blood aristocrats. Who would be granted a footstool? Who would be granted a chair? Who would be granted a chair with arms? These were events that erupted court with gossip, and elicited pages and pages of heated moaning about the death of France.

  2. Sara Stamey says:

    Vonda, thanks for sharing the excitement with all us non-chaired folk! It sounds like everyone was so gracious during production, as they should be to the creator of the story. I can hardly wait for the film.

  3. Foxessa says:

    Splendid — er, Amazing! 🙂

    Love, C.

  4. I surely would not have been allowed to sit on the floor at the court of the real Louis XIV. (I wouldn’t have been allowed to sit on anything.)

  5. Eleanor Arnason says:

    Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  6. LadyWillow says:

    Thanks for sharing a peek into your delightful adventure. Can picture you sitting on the floor more interested in watching the process of breathing life into your words then concerned about being comfortable. /;)

  7. Apparently rainbows are following The Moon and the Sun around: Pierce Brosnan in Melbourne: http://instagram.com/p/oh-OEOG6dQ/