Balthazar’s

LANE: Then he [Henry] said, “It was fun meeting you the other night.”
RORY: What?
LANE: He didn’t say which night. Like he didn’t remember which night. Like he’s mixing me up with another girl from another night. For all I know, he thought he was calling the hot blonde he met at a hopped up night at Balthazar’s.

Balthazar is a French restaurant in SoHo, Manhattan which opened in 1997 and is owned by Keith McNally. Famed for both its food and atmosphere, it is a favourite place for celebrity-spotting. It is notable that Lane gets the name wrong, not being familiar with trendy New York eateries.

Rory points out the obvious implausibility of Henry, a sixteen-year-old private school student from Hartford, being hopped up (on drugs) at Balthazar and meeting hot blondes, but Lane is not in a logical mood.

“Go build us another statue”

MICHEL: Be quiet.
RUNE: Go build us another statue.

Rune is referring to the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Englightening the World), which was a gift from the French people to the people of the United States. It shows the Roman goddess Libertas (Liberty) holding a torch above her head, and in her hand holding a tablet inscribed with the date of the US Declaration of Independence, July 4 1776.

Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, the statue is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, and was dedicated on 1886. It has become an important symbol of American freedom.

YMCA

MICHEL: May I help you?
RUNE: Yeah, I need to know where my room is.
MICHEL: Uh, are you sure you are in the right place? Perhaps you want the YMCA or the local bus station.

The Young Men’s Christian Association, an international organisation founded in London by George Williams in 1844, and based in Geneva, Switzerland. As well as its many charitable activities, the YMCA has hostels all over the world providing low-cost accomodation for travellers.

In real life, there is no YMCA hostel in Connecticut, with the nearest one to Stars Hollow being in New York. As there is also a bus station in New York and not in Stars Hollow, Michel is telling Rune he hasn’t just come to the wrong hotel, but to the wrong town, and should get out. This subtle insult is totally wasted on Rune.

Maine

RORY: Are these new chairs, Grandma?
EMILY: Why, yes Rory, they are … I got them from a dealer up in Maine last summer. He just finished restoring them.

Maine is the most northerly state in New England, sharing its northern border with Canada. It is well known for its many antique shops, mostly catering to summer tourists. Richard and Emily spend their summers on Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Maine, so perhaps she bought the chairs on the island itself, or from one of the many antique stores on Cape Cod.

The Tower

LORELAI: Are you sure you can’t come? [to a family dinner with Trix]
RORY: Yeah, I’m sure. If I’m not prepared tomorrow, Paris is gonna have me sent to the Tower.

Rory means the Tower of London, more correctly Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. It’s a historic castle on the River Thames in the City of London, and was built by William the Conqueror in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. Today it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lodnon.

Although the Tower of London’s original primary purpose was to be a palace and royal residence, it has been used as a prison from 1100 to 1952. Its peak period as a prison was the 16th and 17th centuries, when “being sent to the Tower” meant you were going to prison. Queen Elizabeth I spent time there before she was queen.

Cambodia

EMILY: Won’t you have dessert?
TRIX: I once travelled to a small village in Cambodia. I did not eat dessert there either.

Cambodia is a country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It was under the control of France during the 19th century, and became independent in 1953. Cambodian desserts are actually quite famous, but perhaps the small village Trix went to was too poor to have any dessert, or not up to Trix’s standards – as a slam to Emily, most likely the second.

Trix doesn’t like travel, but somehow made it all the way to Cambodia. Possibly her dislike for travel only came on late in life.

Hearst Castle

LANE: Is this what your grandparents house looks like?
RORY: No. I mean it’s big, but it’s not this Hearst Castle-ly.

Hearst Castle was built for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst on a family estate between 1919 and 1947. It is located near San Simeon, California, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and is situated atop a hill, with dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean below.

Hearst Castle was designed by American architect Julia Morgan; it was originally meant to be a modest yet comfortable bungalow, but ended up a grand 56 bedroom, 61 bathroom, 19 sitting room mansion in an eclectic collection of styles that was based on the historical architecture of Europe. On 127 acres of garden, it had both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theatre, an airfield, and the world’s largest private zoo.

During the 1920s and ’30s, it was often visited by the political and Hollywood elite, including Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles Lindbergh, Charlie Chaplin, The Marx Brothers, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart, and Bob Hope. Hearst Castle was the inspiration for Xanadu, the mansion in the film Citizen Kane, although not filmed there.

Hearst died in 1951, and in 1954 Hearst Castle became a State park in 1954, being opened to the public in 1958. Since then it has operated as a public momument, and attracts millions of visitors every year. The Hearst family continue to use the original Victorian-era house on the estate as a private retreat.

The interior scenes of the party at Madeline’s house were filmed at the Greystone Mansion in Beverley Hills – the same building which is used for exterior shots of Chilton Academy. It’s nowhere near as big as Hearst Castle.