American Friends of Versailles in Paris, Part 2

An all-white fireworks display concluded the grand fete, a breathtaking celebration for a worthy achievement.

By Sharon Hoge and Jeanne Lawrence

In our last post, we recounted several exclusive events from the four-day trip to Paris with the American Friends of Versailles (AFV), including visits with the first lady of France, HRH Prince Charles de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, and the American Ambassador to France.

But the trip’s high point was private time at Versailles Palace away from the crowds, touring the premises, admiring the three projects AFV sponsored there in honor of Franco-American fellowship, and attending an extraordinary black-tie evening with champagne and dinner served in the elegant palace chambers.

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American Friends of Versailles in Paris, Part 1

The American Friends of Versailles group in the courtyard at the Palace of Versailles. Celebrating their restoration of historic paintings in Marie Antoinette’s Queen’s Guard Room, members of the American Friends of Versailles (AFV) spent four days in Paris visiting dignitaries and monuments, dining and dancing.

By Sharon Hoge and Jeanne Lawrence

On a four-day visit to Paris, members of the American Friends of Versailles enjoyed several exclusive events, including roaming around the Élysée Palace with France’s vivacious first lady, Brigitte Macron; dining with HRH Prince Charles de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, Duke of Castro, head of the royal house of France; sipping cocktails with US Ambassador Jamie McCourt at the American Residence; and private visits to the Palace of Versailles, topped with a black-tie formal reception in the Hall of Mirrors and an elegant dinner.

Having raised the funds to rescue historic ceiling paintings in Marie Antoinette’s suite of apartments, the group gathered to view and celebrate the restorations. The formal events that took place at the palace will be covered in another post, but here is an account of some of the other privileged activities.

The AFV assembled on the garden steps of the Elysee Palace, with First Lady Brigitte Macron in front in the white blazer.

AFV Founder Catharine Hamilton and First Lady of France Brigitte Macron.

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Paris Social Diary: A Paris Visit

To commemorate New York’s Twin Towers, Jean-Pierre Heim erected two ten-story-high towers with the names of 9/11 victim inscribed on them.

Before I returned to Shanghai after the summer, I was in Paris with my daughter Stephanie, who is studying there. Who knew that so many friends from Shanghai would be in Paris as well?

One of them, French architect Jean-Pierre Heim, invited us to a 9/11 commemoration arranged by “The French Will Never Forget,” an organization that he co-founded.

Place du Trocadéro was ideal for the ceremony, located as it is between the twin buildings of the Palais de Chaillot, across from the Eiffel Tower.

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Austria Social Diary: A San Franciscan in Salzburg, Part II

World-wide people watching.


The Amadeus Weekend continued on Saturday night. Riccardo Muti conducted Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with performances by Rene Pape, Diana Damrau, Genia Kuhmeier, Christian Gerhaler, Irena Bespalovaite, and Wiener Sangerknaben.

A post concert ‘uber’ grand dinner at Casa Austria was held at the home of the Archduke Karl and Archduchess Francesca von Habsburg, another highlight.

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Austria Social Diary: A San Franciscan in Salzburg, Part I

View of Mirabell Garden from Ropac Gallery.


The spectacular Amadeus Weekend 2006 celebrated Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 250th birthday in Salzburg, Austria, the charming Baroque city that was the composer’s birthplace.

Founded four years ago by patron Donald Kahn and co-chair Eva Maria O’Neill, the festival used the entire city as its stage. The old world glam music festival drew a coterie of more than 100 international music aficionados. “Salzburg’s flair with its Baroque style town centre is matchless … together with Mozart’s story and music, it’s a unique gem,” Eva remarked.

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San Francisco Social Diary: A Pair of International Events

Charles — A born leader.


San Francisco was the final port of call for Prince Charles and his bride, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall (née Camilla Shand) on their goodwill U.S. tour.

Why San Francisco? Perhaps Northern California reflects the prince’s passion for organic food, sustainable agriculture and environmental issues. The heir to the British throne has been farming organically since 1985 on his estate at Highgrove.

He and the duchess visited Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley and admired their Edible Schoolyard program founded by famed chef Alice Waters (Chez Panisse) and principal Neil Smith. The program teaches students to grow and prepare their own organic veggies, learning about “the preservation of our land and the future of our place on this planet,” Alice explains.

One of the original organic advocates, Waters also catered an exclusive black-tie dinner, in honor of the royal couple,which drew plenty of Silicon Valley titans at the new M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Venetian Heritage Visits the Bay Area

The group gathers at the Getty home.


Venetian Heritage, under the auspices of President Muffy Miller and Vice Chairman Pierre Durand, was tantalized by the invitation of new San Francisco Vice President Trevor Traina (one of four VP’s) to come west to see all that San Francisco and Napa Valley have to offer.

Traditionally, the cultural jet-setters head to some historic and glamorous locale in Europe. The last trips were to Venice and Genoa.

Trevor is the son of Dede Buchanan Traina Wilsey, whose father was Chief of Protocol under Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John Traina, once married to novelist Danielle Steele.

Venetian Heritage is dedicated to preserving the art and architecture of Venice around the world. It also raises funds for preservation projects through lectures, concerts, parties, and cultural visits to palaces, churches, private homes, and museums. It recently completed the restoration of the central portal of the Narthex of the Basilica of San Marco.

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