This is the story of a hat.
A purple and black hat that was made somewhere in Italy and sold at a David Jones department store in Sydney, Australia. It was sold to a young Canadian exchange student in 2006.
She envisioned herself at her graduation ball a few months later proudly wearing it, hoping to start a trend. But she was alone with no other hat wearers in sight. And so the hat, after its inaugural debut, went into its permanent home. An octagonal hat box. It moved from Mississauga to Edmonton and then to Paris. Just waiting for the day to come out again.
That day finally came, almost 10 years later at Prix de Diane in Chantilly, about an hour north of Paris.
So what is Prix de Diane?
I could not contain my excitement. I had heard about the chic picnic and day at the races during our first year in Paris. And for some reason or another, we always missed each year. Even though I was exhausted after my quick trip to London. Even though we weren’t really prepared and didn’t have a fabulous picnic spread like all the others. Even though we missed our train and arrived 1.5hr later than we wanted. And even though none of our friends joined us. I had a hat, and that’s all I needed. We were going to the races. And I could not contain my excitement.
I loved every moment.
I loved the hats. I loved the outfits. I loved that some people really went all out. I had an inkling of what kind of hats women wore to Prix de Diane. It is THE hat event of the Paris region. And I saw some of them being made two years ago on my tour of a milliner’s shop. Well my hat wasn’t as fancy or extravagant, but I was so happy to wear it again. It was my little piece of Australia from 10 years prior.
Of course, it’s not all about the hats. People are there to watch and bet on their favourite horses. We didn’t place any bets but we watched the final races. The horses zipped past us in the 90-second long race. In between each race, prizes were awarded and the next round of horses were shown off.
You can buy different levels of tickets to Prix de Diane. We chose the 10 euro option which allowed access only to the picnic grounds. The higher the ticker price the more access to the grandstands and closer to the racetrack you could get. There were also different picnic options, from a seat at a large table to curated individual picnic hampers. We brought our own picnic supplies to keep it affordable. All I really wanted to do was marvel at all the beautiful hats anyway. And of course wear my very own that I had waited 10 years to wear.
Lastly, after all the races were over, a dance party started. C’est Party afterall as the slogan says. It is a pun on the French expression “C’est partie” which means, “Let’s go”. A DJ played music and we danced with about 30 other people dressed to the nines and wearing their hats. It was so much fun that I didn’t want to leave.
But like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight, we needed to catch the train back to Paris. That hat that waited 10 years to see the light, went back into its hat box.
Waiting for another day. Another horse race or another party. To say hello again, in another city.
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Linking up with inspiring link-ups this week.
#WanderfuWednesdays with Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World.
#AllAboutFrance Diane from OuiInFrance. Check out the wonderful selection of blogs in this French inspired link up.