That’s my translation for Les Journees Europennes des Patrimoine. It’s an EU thing, and here in France it’s a big deal. Even after the attacks, it’s a big deal. It’s a weekend, a Saturday and Sunday in September. Places that have historical significance are open to the public for these two days. Some places you can reserve in advance (which I discovered on Friday night. Good to know for next year.) Particular places are hotspots – like the Palais Elysees which is like our White House. I hear the line is several hours long. My friend and I checked out the websites and decided on the Palais Royal and the OECD.
The Palais Royal turned out to be very manageable in terms of wait. Less than an hour. An initial security check and then just before entering, the scanner and bag x-ray. And tons of security – from private companies. I had read that security would be beefed up. But I read that some smaller towns were not opening many places because they could not afford the extra level of security needed these days. I think Paris went all out as a display of “We are not afraid.”
The Palais Cardinal was built in 1639 and was the residence of Cardinal Richelieu. He didn’t enjoy it long – at his death in 1642 the Palais became the property of the king and queen and became the Palais Royal. And then its history includes kings and queens and ducs and duchesses, comtes and comtesses and revolutionaries and emperors… far too complex for me to sort out for you when you can find it on Wikipedia. wiki-palais royal
Today the Palais Royal houses the Conseil d’État, the Constitutional Council, and the Ministry of Culture.
I am very familiar with it because of the gardens. Wonderful courtyard, great fountains, and restaurants and stores around the edges. One of Julia Childs’ favorite restaurants is there. I think it was the first place she ate in Paris. But the Palais Royal is also home to the Conseil d’Etat and the Ministry of Culture. That’s what we were allowed special entrance to.
I would like to be the French Ministre de Culture just for the office.
And m’dear, let’s have lunch on my balcony…
The French do a good job with mixing old and new. See the hallway above with the yellow graphics… and the reception room. Like the Pyramid at the Louvre. However, they don’t always do it well – when they put those monstrosities by Jeff Koons in the Palace of Versailles!!! (I detest Jeff Koons and it amazes me that Sacramento wasted 8 million dollars on a piece of his junk for the new arena downtown. Appalling waste of money that could have been spent on local artists far better than Koons.) (Should I tell you how I really feel?)
Imagine working in a place like this? And being able to look down on this courtyard? Even the library… When we got to the Conseil d’Etat I was confused because I just don’t understand how France works. There were different offices for presidents galore. Not Hollande, of course, but all these different sections or committees had presidents not chair people. But the real head of the Conseil d’Etat (which I can’t explain to you yet) is called the vice-president. Clear?
And I loved this main staircase… with my kitchen tiles of course. And gold stuff hanging down. Regal!
Then we went to the OECD. Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. Of course, in French it is the OCDE – Organisation de Cooperation et de Development Economique. I know two people who have worked here and another who applied to work there in the 70’s. Most of what I know about it is the great studies they do – reading, wages, life – globally. It started after the war out of the Marshall Plan but then morphed into what it is today – a true international institution.
So we saw a modern conference room… Many… But that’s not why we went – it is located in the place where the Chateau de Muette was located. Torn down. Destroyed. But a new chateau – manor – house – palace (chose one) was built in the 20s by the Rothschilds. OK. This place was fabulous. I have written about the Musee de Nissim Camando – this place outshines it. We got to see the special meeting and reception rooms of the Secretary of the organization (president). And the old ballroom and the dining room. Spacious. Surrounded by a lovely park. Special.
Sunday we went to the design show for AD – the Architectural Digest magazine. I have read about them for years – why not take advantage of their show here in Paris for only 10 euros? Why did they charge 10 euros? Waste of money. Only ten rooms. I wasn’t too impressed with the interiors they showed. I liked the location more – Monnaie de Paris – an old building used for conference and exhibits. Lovely.
We saw other Patrimoine locations but weren’t in the mood for lines. I saw photos from a friend who visited the Hotel de Ville of Paris (city hall) and that’s on my list for next year. As is the Musee Gaumont. That’s located – to my surprise – right across the street from me. But their Patriomoine sign said COMPLET. Full. I will reserve ahead next time.
What a great concept. To be allowed to see these beautiful settings that are now offices.
Just think that there are bureaucrats, presidents, and workers who go to work every day in those incredible surroundings. Me, well, HR was always relegated to a room off to the side… fortunately, I escaped an office in a trailer… But now I can dream of an office in Paris…