Real Housewives with real history

love-opera-victoria-bakerOn October 25, 1886, the French sculptor Bartholdi and Viscount Ferdinand-Marie de Lesseps, chairman of the Franco-American Union, arrived in America for the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty.

Believe it or not, the infamous Countess Luanne de Lesseps from popular Bravo TV show Real Housewives of New York City is related to this same Viscount de Lesseps- it’s a small world! I guess the “Real Housewives” have some real history connected to them.

Few statues have had such a profound influence on the human psyche as the Statue of Liberty. Like a beautiful Madonna, she has nurtured the weary; she is a symbol of hope. I have never seen Lady Liberty herself, but that may soon change as I’ve just discovered a marvelous way see her in all her glory.

Bateaux New York is a luxury cruise line that takes passengers on a glamorous dinner cruise reminiscent of the Bateaux Mouche experience in Paris. Like their French counterpart the boats have a low, glass encased roof designed to soak up the view. These boats also boast star quality entertainment, a dance floor on board as well as 5 star quality meals. It sounds like a perfect romantic evening.

But if you’re interested in a date with Lady Liberty maybe a lunch cruise is more fitting, that way you can experience the views much as Bartholdi, the sculptor who created the infamous statue, would have.

The goal was to create a statue to commemorate the special bond between France and the United States when French sculptor Bartholdi sailed to New York in 1871. New York Harbor was the perfect locale, since it was where people got their first view of the New World.

His trip across America filled him with amazement. He wrote,“Everything in America is big … Here, even the peas are big.” Everywhere he went, he enthusiastically promoted the sketch and a model he carried of the statue as it would appear on the island in New York Harbor.

In 1875, Bartholdi believed that “the lady’s” time had come. Because the project would be extremely expensive, it was decided its cost should be shared: France would pay for the statue; America would pay for its pedestal and foundation and a fund-raising committee called the Franco-American Union was formed with members from both nations.

I think I’ll give Bateaux New York a try and experience the New York Harbor with new eyes. From the comfort of a lavish dinner table, I’ll look out onto the New York skyline much as so many visitors have done before me and with a quick turn on the dance floor I’ll fall in love with the Big Apple all over again…as if it were the first time.


Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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