Kim, Kanye kick off pre-wedding festivities

The prince and princess of celebrity, Kanye West and his bride-to-be Kim Kardashian, on Friday kicked off their marathon wedding celebrations with a period costume party in Versailles before flying on to Florence.

With her hair pulled back in a bun and sporting a white dress with a plunging neckline, the 33-year-old reality TV star pulled up at the chateau that was once home to the "Sun King" Louis XIV and his queen Marie Antoinette, accompanied by her rapper beau.

Dozens of invitees were welcomed to celebrations by horses adorned with bright colours, riders wearing huge feathers in their hats, musketeers in wigs and drum rolls.

Under the watchful eye of a band of journalists and around 100 onlookers, staff made their preparations, unloading audio equipment, sofas and huge pots of pastel-coloured flowers.

"There will be small baroque ensembles," said one of the musketeers.

Teenagers, drawn by rumours that superstars such as Justin Bieber, Beyonce and Jay Z would be among the guests, hung around outside the castle, desperate for a glimpse of their idols.

"We will not leave here unless we see them. We are ready to hide in the park, or in a big garden pots," said Jeanne, 15.

West and Kardashian settled on a private party in the prestigious chateau not far from Paris after they were told they would not be able to marry there in January.

But Versailles is a mere aperitif ahead of the huge fete planned for Sunday in Florence, which will host 1,600 invitees in the 16th-century Fort Belvedere.

Guests from Friday's celebrations will be flown there tomorrow on private jets.

- 'I'm so lucky' -

After months of suspense, the festivities were gradually revealed throughout the day according to a carefully orchestrated plan by the Kardashian clan, obviously eager to make this marriage of the event year.

The circus could earn them up to $21 million thanks to sponsors and through the sale of exclusive photos of the ceremony, according to press reports.

Some websites say the couple were already married in early May in a civil service in California.

Earlier in the day, the couple lunched in the Chateau de Wideville, to the west of Paris, which is owned by iconic designer Valentino.

Kardashian, in an ornate lace gown and West, 36, in a dark blue suit matched with a black leather shirt, were accompanied by their baby and Kardashian's mother Kris Jenner to the bash.

From early afternoon, the surrounding sleepy hamlet was abuzz as black sedans rolled into the magnificent property and journalists scrambled to catch sight of the celebrity pair.

A helicopter hovered over the chateau, whose origins go back to the 17th century, but few turned up near its imposing gates to catch a glimpse of the couple.

A source involved in the event said the couple had requested that the cars transporting their entourage be sprayed with Chanel perfume inside.

On Thursday night, Kim Kardashian celebrated her bachelorette do with her friends in Paris, sporting a white Balmain mini dress embellished with pearls.

The quilted dress was reportedly inspired by a Faberge egg that Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor received from iconic actor Richard Burton.

Kardashian has tweeted several photos of her in the city, including one with the Eiffel Tower lit up behind her and her friends with the message: "Night out in Paireeeeee."

One showed her with her grandmother while yet another of her and her friends bore the message "I'm so lucky! I have the best friends in the whole wide world."

But many were singularly unimpressed like a Dutch tourist, who only gave her first name: Christine.

"I think this whole thing is absolutely crazy," she said, speaking outside the couple's luxury Paris hotel on Thursday night.

"This woman has become famous by doing nothing! It's vastly overblown!" she said.