An avalanche of reader feedback (thanks, both of you) has indicated that Paris stories are still in demand. So here is another one.
The lady we rented the apartment from, Regine, was very lovely to us during our stay. She took us for a walk around the area, pointing out the local sights and good restaurants. She also took us to visit the Senate, where she worked. The French Senate is housed in the Luxembourg palace and is decorated in grand style, lots of gilt and paintings on every surface. It was built in the 17th century for Marie de Medici who married King Henry IV of France. The original interiors were lost in the French Revolution and apparently extensive renovations were done in the 19th century.
The photo below shows what they call ‘the original internet’ which is canister in which they would place urgent messages in- these arrived on horseback- and hoist up the stairs on the wire.
Regine invited us to dinner in the Senate Restaurant, a privilege usually reserved for Senators and those higher up in the ranks of Senate administration. So we dined in one of these amazing rooms the next week. Tables were covered in white linen, waiters sailed serenely between them and the crystal sparkled. Large french doors opened out to the Luxembourg gardens and the warm summer air.
We ate delicious lapin (rabbit) with polenta as soft as a cloud and drank burgundy and then selected cheese from the cheese platter and then we had chocolate mousse. The French drink tisanes, herbal teas, after dinner, so were a little perplexed by my request for tea. They were very polite, of course, and found some for me. It came in a beautiful little silver teapot but no milk was offered. I drank it black so I didn’t look provincial.
Everything was excellent and Regine insisted on treating us. Overwhelmed by the hospitality and the grandeur of the surroundings and by lots of very good food and wine, we weaved our way back to her apartment where she plied us with more food to take back to our apartment with us and try. Cheese, sausage, cake, all specialities from the Pyrenees, and she also gave us a bottle of special champagne that a friend of hers who owns a vineyard makes.
Never tell me the French are not a hospitable people!