Friday, August 12, 2011

Certainly Madame!

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."
And so I spent two delicious hours poking into every corner of the Negresco hotel. 
Here are some pictures I took. I could also have helped myself to their priceless artwork collection, had I been criminally minded and carried a bigger purse!

It'sDay 7 of my month of French fun and counting down to Naughty in Nice!

Comment on your French experiences for a chance to win a fun French prize (no, it won't be naughty!)


  1. My experience with the French has been here and in other countries outside France. Glad you had good experiences as I had concluded that those whom I met, like some wines, did not travel well.

  2. In high school, I took two years of French. My teacher Madame Elliot was an absolute hoot. Everyone loved her. She had these infamous stories she would tell the freshmen. Madame Elliot could relay the stories with such a dead pan face and serious tone that all the freshmen believed her, unless one had an older sibling who had already heard the stories. One of my favorites was the three-legged lambs. Madame Elliot goes into great detail and I can't do it justice, but here is the gist.

    Since Leg of Lamb is a very popular meal in France, there are many cute lambs bounding in pastures with only three legs.

  3. I have never been to France, but I was in Berlin for 3 weeks. The crowds were international, but I could always tell a Frenchman by the way he flirted - or tried to flirt - with me. The Frenchman's attitude is unmistakable. When he pays you a compliment, even in merely waving, he gives the impression that HE is at the center of the moment. You are immaterial to the gesture. That always tickled me. Then I read a book on the way men think in different cultures. I read that a Frenchman, in paying you a compliment, is in actuality paying the compliment to himself. The reason? He is congratulating himself on his own good taste.