There are some benefits to this nature of work and dining at France's finest Chateau is one of them. 2000 guests, players, celebrities, all enjoying the spectacular views, hospitality and fireworks together.
Round tables lined the elegant Orangerie. My table was set for 10 but 13 of us turned up. The waiters weren't fazed and set 3 more places, so we sat elbow to elbow some distance from the table and ate off our laps, taking it in turns to reach forward for our wine glasses and using a pass the parcel system for the vegetables, salt and pepper. 11/13ths of the table were French. 2/13th English. The 11/13ths spoke no English and the other Brit no French, the poor chap sat in silence throughout the whole drawn out 5 courses.
To my right sat a Parisian from the Ministry of Defense. The Minister couldn't find the golf representative so sent the sailing rep instead. On my other side was the main Mickey Mouse actor from Disneyland. So to my delight we didn't talk about golf swings but about the aerodynamics of sailing boats and the rigorous diet needed to be Mickey.
On our way out I noticed some of the people at my table were soaking wet. The silent English guy had stumbled and knocked two of our French guests into a pond that unfortunately happened to be in the middle of the path leading through the Orangerie. No one had thought to fence it off so one after another guests went tumbling in, splashing in fits as their spouses tried to fish them out.
For a few of the elderly wet and bruised victims an ambulance had to be called, but it lacked the right parking pass so the paramedics trotted across the gardens to rescue the drenched gala guests shivering with shock as the fireworks crackled away.