Saturday, March 17, 2007

French National Assembly

Tuesday, we visited the French National Assembly, which is its parliamentary body. We'd planned to meet with a member who is a leading figure in the conservative caucus of the assembly, but election duties had called him away. So one of his staffers gave us a tour of the facility, which was very regal and impressive, as legislative buildings are wont to be,
especially French ones that go back hundreds of years.

Inside, they had these great gifts for political junkies: dinnerware to let the world know just what side of the political spectrum you (and your food) are on. Droit is right, gauche is left. They'd work just as well in the U.S., given our red/blue state divide after the last election.

Also inside, this cool bronze sculpture of a painter working by Louis Mitelberg entitled "Daumier creant Ratapoil." I just liked it for some reason.

...and this Versailles-esque dining room being set up for an official function. Get a load of the gilt, chandeliers, and ceiling frescoes. Why do I get the feeling that were this room in the states, it would cause a stir for being too ostentatious for elected officials?

Here's the chamber where the members meet to make decisions. GMF Fellow Michael from Austin, served as a spokesmodel for this shot after showing me how to adjust my flash for the lighting conditions in the room. Camera mechanics, energy policy, knowledge of obscure political facts and research, and cracking the rest of us up with his asides are just some of his many talents.

We also passed through the members' library, which is an almost perfect replica of what heaven looks like in my brain, except that in addition to floor to ceiling books, my version has dogs underfoot and hot chocolate on tap. Guilty confession: I've been drinking almost one hot chocolate a day on the trip(!). They've been exquisite in both Paris and Copenhagen. Good thing we're walking a lot.

Over in the mail room, which was where members of parliament used to come to read and respond (by hand) to constituent letters, they have these great chairs. They were built oversized so that members could read a wide open newspaper without disturbing or encroaching on each other's space. How's that for form following function? I love it! And I want one. Note to Jason.
PS - you'll notice the functional hair I'm sporting. That's what happens when your flat iron falls victim to the quirks of international voltage changes. To do list for the evening: find a store with hair appliances.

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