Who is Empress Eugenie?
Empress Eugenie, the last empress of France and wife of Napoleon III, was celebrated for her hospitality, architectural vision, taste of adventure, influence on fashion and her passion for luxury.
The imperial couple created the Paris of nowadays. Empress Eugenie appointed the famous architect George Eugene Haussmann to design Paris’s ‘Grandes Avenues’ and the legendary Opera Garnier.
To encourage ‘le savoir faire’, Eugenie selected talented French and European artists to create exclusive perfumes, dresses, tableware, and luggage. Her discovery of brilliant artisans like Pierre Guerlain, Louis Vuitton, Charles Fredrick Worth, and Haviland led to their modern day success.
In 1856, Eugenie initiated her famous ‘Series de Compiegne’ to promote the traditional French ‘art de vivre’. In her chateau beside Paris, her devotion to entertaining her guests turned the ‘series’ quickly into a fashionable season’s destination for the European elite. The ‘Empress’s tea’ was a special moment highlighting the art of conversation, and bringing together prestigious personalities.
What are the ‘Compiegne Series’?
In August 1856, she started private invitations at her Chateau de Compiegne. She would invite 100 people or so to come and spend one week at the Chateau. Every week, she would invite a new ‘series’ of guests.
Her guest list included ministers, generals, artists, scientists, ambassadors, musicians, actors, doctors, philosophers and members of the royal court.
Eugenie would orchestrate the series to provide her guests with the best hospitality, finest food, and great entertainment. During the day, the guests would have leisure time to rest, stroll around the estate, explore the Compiegne forests, or engage in hunting activities, or bike rides.
Afternoon tea was an important part of the series. Guests would gather around a cup of tea to mingle, converse, and exchange ideas.
The evenings were carefully planned to keep the guests highly entertained with dances, theaters, shows, lavish dinners, and card playing.