Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday in the 7th

Today was Day 2 of the Journées du Patrimoine. I got up early so I could slip in to the Hôtel de Matignon, the Prime Minister's residence, two blocks away, before the crowds arrived. Who was I fooling?

Others clearly had the same thought.

I don't do lines. So instead I went to the Hôtel de Rochechouart, which houses the Ministère de l'Education. No lines! The security guards waved me through after a quick check, and there was just a handful of visitors.

I don't mean to sound blasé, but once you've seen a few ornate gilt moldings in government buildings, a few magnificent escaliers d'honneur, they all start to seem almost run-of-the mill. And it's safe to say that some are better maintained than others. The main attraction at the Hôtel de Rochechouart, curiously, was this stairwell wall with portraits of all the French Ministers of Education since 1828.

People who breezed through the rest of the building stopped in their tracks and examined all the names and faces in the gallery.

It's interesting not only from an historical point of view, but also to see how hairstyles and beards, and general demeanor of public officials, have changed over the years.

Next stop was the Hôtel de Montmorin, which houses the Ministère de l'Outre-Mer. I didn't have much time to linger, but it was impressive.

Mostly I was drawn to the garden.

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