Back when I used to live  in Australia, I always wondered what it would be like to attend France’s biggest raceday, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Given how well the French dress in general, surely their raceday fashion would be mind-blowingly chic and their hats an elaborate array of millinery magic?

As it turns out, this isn’t the case. Compared to their Australian and British counterparts, French racegoers exhibit a more laissez-faire approach to racewear, rather than parading extravagant, show-stopping ensembles. In fact, the common raceday “uniform” spotted frequently around the course resembles little more than the usual Parisian uniform of skinny trousers-shirt-blazer, with either a wide-brimmed felt hat or fedora finishing the look. And many women choose not to wear a hat – even though entry was free for those who did (general admission was otherwise 8€).

However, this year (the third year I’ve attended the event), I did note that the female spectators looked decidedly more glamorous than usual – there were more dresses, more coiffing, and – thankfully – more hats. Though still nowhere near the number of women who sport millinery on the lawns of Flemington for Australia’s biggest raceday.

Despite the understated French approach to racewear, it did not discourage the large contingent of international visitors from dressing in the style to which they are accustomed. The British were there in their tailored skirt suits or short cocktail frocks with wide-brimmed sinamay hats or crinoline headpieces, while the Japanese fans sported either traditional kimonos or the colours of their hero, Orfevre, who was carrying the nation’s hopes of a first win in the Arc.

Unfortunately for Orfevre’s supporters, the gallant horse again finished a gutsy runner-up, this time to local three-year-old filly Treve, who ran away with the Arc by a staggering five lengths to retain her unbeaten five-start record and cement her status as the Next Big Thing in racing.

With the recent retirements of Black Caviar and Frankel, the racing world wasn’t sure when it would see its next champion, but now all eyes are on Treve to claim the mantle. That’s when they’re not enjoying some quality people-watching at the famed Longchamp course.