Virginie, to begin, what is your path?
I was born surrounded by horses on this property along the Dordogne; I am a local girl, I am an Indian, I love my land, my trees, plowing. I was raised like a little savage, feet in the clay that sticks to your feet in the winter and that is as hard as concrete in the summer. I went to pony school when I was a kid. Then, for 20 years, I was a professional rider, formed by Hubert Bourdy, Gilles Bertran De Balanda,and Jean-Maurice Bonneau and I was champion of France in 2005 with Jolie De BNeville.
I have always made a living of my sport, that is to say I have always sold my horses. The only regret I have, the only downside of my career : I have never made a great championship. However I have sold «Socrates» and «Jalisco » to international riders and many other horses that have made great careers. It was also a way to get recognition and to keep the shop running. Then the meeting in 2009 with Christophe Ameeuw allowed me to make the Gucci Master. I started in the events business, I worked with him for 3 or 4 years, then I founded my own event: the Longines Paris Eiffel in front ofthe Eiffel Tower. After two years, the city of Paris became our partner, then followed Longines, Renault, the Dairy of Montaigu,, and Massimo Dutti, historical and faithful partners with whom I can build this event. This year, we created the Eiffel Route : a hundred Horsemen passed through the Palace of Versailles, with its gallopade in the King’s alleys, crossing the Royal Court of the military school accompanied by the band of the Republican Guard up to the grounds of Honor in front of the Eiffel Tower.
What is the history of this event, the Longines Paris ? Why in front of the Eiffel Tower ?
The story of this event is really my story: the infinitely personal that becomes universal. I am descended from Gustave Eiffel (by my mother who was his great-granddaughter) and I take from my father Emeric Coupérie, breeder and Horseman, the passion of horses. In 1979, he organized the first Bordeaux jumping, which became the first stage of the World Cup.
It was written in my genes; we had and still have a hundred horses on 150 acres near Bordeaux in the Dordogne. I then wanted to glorify the «Made in France» as Gustave Eiffel had done in his time with the Eiffel Tower, the French genius, but also the surpassing of oneself, the Freedom, The «Everything is possible» that the Eiffel Tower embodies.
Combining art, culture and sport remains my priority for this event. On the one hand, tradition : the military school and the Republican Guard and on the other, this tower which can be considered the first gigantic object of contemporary art erected in a city. The place is magical. The innovation here is to bring together several universes: gastronomy, with two ephemeral restaurants facing the competition, including a three times nominated 3 stars with chefs Alain Ducasse and Frédéric Vardon; art and culture, with exhibitions and live shows; lifestyle with a village with a typically Parisian atmosphere. Each year the poster of the event is created by a renowned artist like Jean-Charles de Castelbajac who accompanied us this year. The terroir, the welcome, the simplicity, the fashion,the art of living in the middle of these great riders is also France!
How long will it take to prepare for this event ?
We are a little team with 3 people all year and then we grow as the event approaches. We finish at 150 people with the arrival of the teams of the Global Champion Tour and our volunteers who give themselves 100% for the success of this beautiful event.
What are your plans ?
We have 40,000 m2: the plateau Joffre, the wall of peace and the lawn but we can double the capacity with the authorization of the town hall and the collaboration with new partners to finance this development. My plans are to make this event grow, to mix the genres and to rediscover a festive spirit ,festival, sport, culture and entertainment.