CHANTILLY (France): Brazilian football star Ronaldo on Monday took over a magnificent chateau outside Paris for a lavish, star-studded Valentine’s Day declaration of love for his fiancee, model Daniela Cicarelli.
On a bitterly cold night a fleet of silver Audi limousines brought Ronaldo and around 250 close friends to the castle, shimmering in purple and white light for the occasion as a gaggle of young and old fans gathered to get a glimpse of their heroes.
About 200 people gathered outside the imposing gates of Chantilly Castle, one of the most romantic buildings in France which comes complete with towers, a moat and sweeping grounds replete with fountains and woods.
There were screams from the small crowd as the Real Madrid star himself arrived in the early evening.
“I saw him!” shouted 13-year-old Jean-Francois, who had been waiting patiently in the freezing night for a glimpse of one of the most celebrated footballers of the present age.
“But I only saw his teeth,” he added slightly disappointed, in a reference to the star’s characteristic toothy grin, amid screams of delight from his boisterous but good-humoured companions who had cycled from their homes in Chantilly to watch the guests arrive.
The party had been organised to celebrate Ronaldo’s engagement to Cicarelli, for according to Spanish law 28-year-old Ronaldo cannot re-marry for at least one year after divorcing his first wife Milene Domingues.
The World Cup 2002 star and Domingues, who have one child, separated at the end of 2003 after four years of marriage.
As the silver Audis backed up to the entrance to the Chantilly chateau’s magnificent grounds in a minor security-induced traffic jam, young and old got a glimpse of Ronaldo’s teammate in the Real Madrid side, Luis Figo.
Other stars were harder to spot through the tinted windows, and others – perhaps famous, perhaps not – got hearty boos from the crowd when they tried to hide their faces completely.
No doubt the horses and carriages moved more quickly to their destination when Chantilly was owned by the Conde family in the 17th century.
But the wait doubtless gave more time to Ronaldo and Cicarelli, by now warm and snug inside the castle, to gaze on the 44 16th century, stained glass windows representing the love story of Psyche and Cupid.
Outside another barrage of flash lights lit up the night sky, and cameras whirred as yet more Audis glided into view, shepherded by a stern group of gendarmes.
Of the other stars expected at the party, including England star David Beckham and local hero Zinedine Zidane, there was no sign. The Spanish press reported they had remained in Spain to attend a charity football match yesterday.
During their stay, guests will be able to visit the Conde Museum inside the chateau, with its fine collection of old masters among its 6,000 works.
It is the only collection in France apart from the Louvre in Paris to boast three paintings by the Italian master Raphael.
Ronaldo’s friends and family will also be able to visit the magnificent library, with wooden walkways around the different levels which houses some 30,000 manuscripts, many of them rare editions.
It is not known exactly how much the evening was costing Ronaldo, but hiring out the whole castle is said to cost 20,000 euros (US$26,000), without food and drink included, and the flower arrangements cost 70,000 euros.
Brazilian media put the estimated cost of the party at around 700,000 euros (US$900,200), although they say the couple could earn 400,000 euros by selling exclusive photo writes to Spanish magazine Hola!.
All media, with the apparent exception of Hola!, were banned from the event and Israeli-trained security personnel were due to be on the lookout for cell phones with built-in cameras.
Meanwhile, back on the barricades in the cold and the mud, 20-year-old Alexandra from the nearby town of Persan was stamping her feet, and still getting no response from the glamorous shadows deep in limousine leather.
“Ah well, we can at least say we have had a glimpse of them,” she sighed. – Agencies