In a three-day visit to French soil, King Charles III left a lasting impression with a series of remarkable events, including a grand state dinner at Versailles, a friendly game of ping-pong between Brigitte Macron and Queen Camilla, and impassioned pleas for environmental conservation and Franco-British cooperation. This historic visit marked King Charles’s first state visit to France as the reigning monarch, taking him from Paris to Bordeaux.
The overarching theme of the visit was ecology, with a strong focus on the king’s commitment to environmental causes, which he emphasized repeatedly. King Charles kicked off his visit by planting an oak tree in the gardens of the British Embassy on September 20th, standing side by side with President Emmanuel Macron.
A Visit with a Green Agenda At the Senate on Thursday, King Charles proposed a new “Entente” between France and Britain to combat climate change, following a notable shift in Downing Street’s climate policy. Climate action remained in the spotlight the next day at the Natural History Museum, where President Macron, speaking in English, commended King Charles for his longstanding dedication to biodiversity.
The final day of King Charles’s visit to Bordeaux was dedicated to championing environmental causes. According to Pierre Hurmic, the ecologist mayor of Bordeaux, this visit served as recognition of the city’s ongoing efforts to address ecological and climate challenges, which deeply resonated with King Charles III.
The royal tour included a visit to the experimental forest of Floirac, where scientists are studying the impact of environmental changes. The tour concluded at Château Smith Haut Lafitte, an 87-hectare vineyard estate that has adopted biodynamic practices and employs llamas for weed control.
While the king primarily traveled by plane and car during his visit, he made a green choice by opting for the tramway in Bordeaux, symbolizing his commitment to environmental consciousness.
Versailles Shines in Glamour One of the standout moments of this visit, despite some criticism, was the opulent state dinner held in honor of King Charles and Queen Camilla in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The event showcased the exquisite dinnerware from the Élysée, sourced from the prestigious Sèvres porcelain manufacturer, and celebrated the culinary excellence of France.
The soirée also featured a distinguished guest list, including more than 150 actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, and industry leaders, ranging from Mick Jagger to Carole Bouquet, Bernard Arnault, and Hugh Grant. The actor from “Notting Hill,” seated beside Brigitte Macron, found the First Lady “charming,” and Stéphane Bern assured everyone that the dinner was far from stodgy.
However, it was Charlotte Gainsbourg’s ethereal-chic presence that captured the spotlight, earning her a prominent place on the front page of the Daily Mail alongside the royal couple. In addition, King Charles paid heartfelt tribute to Jane Birkin, “the most French of Britons,” which surely delighted the renowned actress.
Other memorable moments included Charles’s stroll through the “Elizabeth II Flower Market,” named in honor of his mother. The king also fondly remembered the queen, who had passed away just over a year ago, on multiple occasions.
Lastly, the friendly ping-pong match between Camilla and Brigitte Macron added a televised touch to the royal couple’s visit to Saint-Denis. Prior to this, the president’s wife and the queen, in a departure from formal protocol, launched the Franco-British literary prize. The First Lady even greeted the queen with a warm kiss upon her arrival at the National Library of France (BNF), a display of camaraderie mirrored in earlier meetings at the Arc de Triomphe and Versailles.