Horses and Hats - Prix de Diane (Part I)

Horses and hats - other than starting with the letter "h", what do these two words have in common?  They both vie for center stage at the Prix de Diane, where the views of the Château de Chantilly and the pastoral setting provide the perfect backdrop for the continuous parade of elegant fashions.

Up until about 9:30 yesterday morning, Stéphane and I still weren't sure if we would be going to the Prix de Diane.  First of all, there was the problem of finding a hat that wouldn't make me look too silly, a matter that was somewhat resolved on Saturday night when we stumbled across a boutique and managed to find one shortly before the store closed.  Another factor was the weather report, which was looking rather ominous for Sunday.  So, when it turned out to be a relatively sunny day, we threw the bottle of champagne that we had intended to drink with Stephane's family, some leftover cheese, a baguette, cherries, apricots, and a last minute purchase of foie gras into a cooler and set off for what turned out to be a very fun day at Chantilly.

Some people were remarkably well prepared
Others were just happy to be there

A few things that I learned about wearing hats:
  • They make getting in and out of cars a lot more tricky.
  • Bathrooms suddenly become smaller and harder to navigate when all of the women are wearing them.  It was a bit like being in a bumper car at an amusement park.
  • They're fun to wear, if only for a special occasion like the Prix de Diane.

Helpful information: It's perfectly fine to go without a hat, although women who are wearing one don't have to pay the admission fee (8€ in 2011).  Picnics, other food, and drinks are available for purchase on the grounds.  Plan to arrive as soon as the gates open to enjoy the concert, to find a good spot for the races, and to enjoy all of the people watching opportunities.

Click HERE to read Part II of "Horses and Hats" about the horses and the jockeys, men and women who wear a different kind of hat.

Related post: I Need a Hat: A Visit to the Milliner's Boutique