After my excursion to the country on Saturday, I only had Sunday to peek into buildings otherwise closed to the public that were open for les Journées du Patrimoine last weekend. We ended up picking the Italian embassy and the Ministry of Agriculture, both on rue de Varenne in the 7th. I also longingly eyed the line at the Hôtel Matignon (official residence of France's prime minister). The wait was only an hour, reasonable enough, except that my progeny had already had quite enough gilt decorated drawing rooms for one day.
At any rate, the most remarkable aspect of both buildings we visited was the magnificent garden in the rear. The embassy garden (pictured here) was impressively deep and just manicured enough to keep nature at bay, no more. The ministry garden was massive and seeing the sets of teak tables and chairs stacked up in the corners, one could imagine that the employees definitely take advantage when the weather is fine to take their lunch and coffee breaks outdoors.
But it got me to thinking too. After my lunch in the country, it occurred to me that the French people are not so different from a hotel particulier in the 7th. The street view is austere: stone, massive wooden doors, high walls, no windows to suggest what lies inside. But if you have the chance to reach the inner sanctum, oh the rewards: warmth, kindness, conviviality, and beauty.
And who wouldn't mind having this place for a backyard barbecue or just a sunny spot to enjoy a good book?