Overlooking the Pavillon Dufour behind the golden gates of the Versailles palace is the newest gem of the Alain Ducasse empire. Ore, the first ever full-service restaurant within the walls of the seventeenth-century palace, affords a peaceful and simple space apart from its rich surroundings.
Taking its name from the Latin word for mouth, Ore is a gastronomic experience not to be missed. The name is also a nod at the French word for gold, or, the preferred color of French monarch Louis XIV that is reflected in the restaurant’s interior design, and even in the presentation of the cuisine.
True to its aims, Ore successfully bridges the gap between the classic museum café and the creative néo-bistrot. The restaurant offers a series of menus for breakfast and lunch, in addition to gourmet versions of the traditional French croque-monsieur and other various sandwiches. With its wide range of prices, the restaurant remains accessible to a diverse clientele, from the cultured gourmand to the frugal tourist.
From the ample lever du roi breakfast to the lunch courses to the myriad exquisite pastries fit for Versailles royalty, Ore has a little something for every visitor. Offered alongside an interesting wine selection curated by Gérard Margeon, Chef Sommelier of the Alain Ducasse Group for over 20 years, the museum lunch becomes a gastronomic experience.
The lunch menu, served until 2:30pm, offers an upscale dining experience and highlights market-fresh produce, changing with the seasons to assure the quality of the dishes. The autumn menu opens with Ducasse’s signature vegetable-rich starters, like a hearty bowl of wild mushrooms, spelt, and sorrel. Mains include a sumptuous turbot with truffled hollandaise sauce, as well as a dish of butter-soft scallops smothered in a tangy roux and served with a rainbow of multicolored cauliflowers, velvety purée, and delicate edible flowers. The dish shines when paired with a bright glass of Savennières Clos de Saint-Yves from Domaine des Baumard, a minerally white wine from the Loire Valley with a pale yellow color flecked with gold.
On the simpler side, served-all-day dishes include a rustic beef tartare, a creamy Parmentier soup adorned with bacon and croutons, or Ducasse’s personal favorite: a gourmet take on macaroni and cheese, melting with layers of ham, rich Comté, and black truffle. A highlight is a thin, savory tarte towering with seasonal cooked and raw vegetables. Refreshingly cool and bursting with color, the tart layers carrots, artichoke hearts, broccolini, cucumber, cooked turnips, haricots verts, and thin disks of of bright pink radish atop a base of fresh pesto that is accented with a green jus.
A percentage of the produce used at Ore is sourced directly from Versailles’ nearby Potager du Roi, with Ducasse’s hallmark heritage tomatoes delivered from a regular supplier in Normandy.
On the afternoon dessert menu are exquisite sorbets and signature soufflés, as well as a number of original pastry creations. The popular Paris-Versailles, a gourmet take on the traditional Paris-Brest, features wheels of choux pastry and vanilla cream, incorporating rich hazelnut.
An unmissable dessert is Le Louis XIV, an exquisite bar developed with Alain Ducasse’s own chocolate and an homage to Le Roi-Soleil, the Sun King of France. Layers of dark chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, and a textured praliné base are enrobed in a dark chocolate shell, which is then lacquered with gold and marked with the contemporary sun symbol of the restaurant. Savor dessert with a glass of Alain Ducasse’s own champagne selection, served in an original glass à jambe creuse, entirely unique to the Alain Ducasse house.
Ore is situated in a wing of galleries overlooking the Pavillon Dufour, a series connected by two long halls. Designed by Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost for Dominique Perrault Architecture in accordance with the Lead Architect of the Palace of Versailles, Frédéric Didier, the rooms are spacious yet intimate and contemporary. A sense of the past is preserved with the wooden parquet floor, faux chimneys, and crown molding.
Adding a modern touch to the classic setting, tables lacquered in gold reflect a warm glow from contemporary light fixtures suggesting rays of sunlight. Designed by Patrick Jouin, grey rounded leather chairs echo the blue-grey layer of paint on the molding. The effect is one of classicism with subtle contemporary accents.
Delicate and mismatched antique silverware, found by Alain Ducasse at flea markets and antique stores, adds a whimsical touch to the meal.
Ore is closed in the evenings, but for an unforgettable experience, groups can privatize a space in the palace to enjoy a sumptuous period-banquet like none other. Waiters appearing in authentic costumes announce the dishes, served with antique silver service and porcelain replications of the Château. With five to eight courses inspired by the time of the Versailles royalty, this experience is sure to delight history buffs and gourmands alike.
Ore – Château de Versailles, Place d’Armes, Pavillon Dufour, 78000. RER C: Gare de Versailles Château Rive Gauche. Tel: +33 (0)1 30 84 12 96. Tues-Sun 8am-5:30pm.
- For more dining with a side of history, read our review of Le Procope, Paris’ oldest café.
- Discover some of our other favorite châteaux for stunning day-trips from Paris here.
- For more elegant dining destinations in Paris, Forbes shares their top five 3-Michelin Star restaurants of 2o16 here.