Alan was the Paris bureau chief for The New York Times and then its European arts correspondent.
Alan has traveled the world as a correspondent, covering the United Nations in New York, military regimes and revolutions across Latin America, and the collapse of the Soviet bloc. In the late 1980s, he was named the Paris bureau chief for The New York Times and later its European arts correspondent. Alan shares with you his deep passion and love for the “Luxembourg Gardens” and the "Versailles Palace."
What makes the Palace of Versailles Secret Journey so special when comparing it with all the other tours and visits already taking place at the Palace of Versailles?
Put simply, during this Secret Journey, you see parts of the palace that the vast majority of its eight million annual visitors never see. A special security guard opens a locked door and you pass into the quiet and exclusive world of the three French kings who made the “château” their home. Then, by visiting the private quarters of two of the most famous royal mistresses, Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry, you come to understand the immense power that the women of Versailles exercised behind the scenes. On this journey, it is as if you have been invited to see through the palace’s famous mirrors.
For the first time in its history, the current president of the Palace of Versailles is a woman, Catherine Pégard. In your opinion, what is the significance of finally having a female president of this historical institution?
I think it is perhaps more interesting that Ms. Pégard is a former journalist because she has an instinctive sense of communication. She understands that, in order for the palace to survive as both an historical institution and a tourist attraction, it must constantly refresh what it offers the public. Thus, over three centuries after Louis XIV moved his court there, under Ms. Pégard Versailles has become an exciting “new” destination even to those who have visited it many times before.