One of the comments yesterday triggered a memory of my own. The poster wrote:
A favorite memory, though not about food. I went to the Carnavelet Museum in Paris specifically to see one painting. The room where the painting was hung was under construction. I was disappointed until I asked if there was any way I could get in. Certainly madame! The head curator himself took me to the painting, escorting me through the sawhorses and equipment!
Now the French are known for being remote, bloody minded and difficult. But my experiences are similar to yesterday's poster. In fact last year when I was researching Naughty in Nice I needed to look around the Negresco Hotel. Originally I planned to have a murder take place there. Now the Negresco is still a top hotel, reeeeeely expensive (try $1000 a night). I walked up the front steps and was stopped by a young man dripping with braid. You cannot enter, he said, looking at my non-designer attire. I told him I was a famous writer who wanted to write about his hotel. He took me to his boss and I handed the boss my card.
He opened his arms wide. "Feel free, madame," he said. "Go where you want to."