Today we had the privilege to visit the French National Assembly and the Senate, which together form the French legislative branch. On a beautiful sunny morning, we were up bright and early to catch the bus to the Assembleé Nationale. We got off at our stop right in front of the Seine river, and were received by both the staff of the Assembleé and a beautiful view of the septième arrondissement of Paris. After going through security, we watched a film explaining how the French government works right before we were given a tour of the building. The first room looked like a gigantic ballroom, but gilded and with huge mirrors and artwork everywhere. Every room thereafter was covered with paintings, beautiful tapestry, gilded ornaments, ceilings displaying the symbols and historic events that shaped the history of France, and doors with artfully crafted patterns. It was truly wonderful to be able to walk through these rooms, it felt absolutely surreal. It is also something that would be nearly impossible to do if you visited Paris only as a tourist. To put the icing on the cake, we ran into Jean Lassalle on our way out, a parliamentaire who ran for president in the last election cycle, and was able to get almost half a million votes. He shook my hand.
After l’Assembleé Nationale, we took a break to walk the streets of Paris and to get lunch. We stopped at a small Creperie that had a fluffy cat welcoming the guests. After eating our savory crepe, I ordered the famous beurre sucre for dessert, which is a crepe with butter and sugar. It is simple but delicious, and it never disappoints. After taking pictures of the cat and finishing our crepes, we walked over to Le Sénat, where we were received and led by a terrific guide that made sure to explain to us all about the beautiful building we were in, including its art, its architecture and its history. Once again, we were absolutely amazed by the beauty and extravagance of the buildings. The level of detail in every painting, every marking, and every door hinge was impressive. Also, every piece of art, be it paintings, sculptures or markings, was carefully placed and positioned to add to the larger symbolism of the room, the palace, and ultimately, the French Republic.
While at Le Sénat, we got to witness a vote on legislation as spectators. Most of us non-francophones were a little lost during the session, but it was nonetheless fascinating to watch the senateurs debate and argue passionately in support of their positions. We were also honored by the visit of senateur Cristophe-André Frassa, who represents the French abroad. He joined us for a short walk through the library of the Sénat, posed for a picture with us before the end of our visit. Once outside, we walked through the Jardins du Luxembourg, a beautiful garden across Le Sénat. It was a great way to end a fantastic day of enjoying and learning about the cultural richness and beauty of France.
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