The European Heritage Days give me a perfect excuse to lure them into some intellectual activity. For two days a year in Paris and the rest of France, thousands of monuments, government buildings, and privately owned sites of interest open their doors to give the public free reign to areas that are generally not accessible.
After having dragged my kids to the Economic and Social Council of France last year I opted for more cheerful sites this year: the embassies.
We started out at the Italian embassy which was impressive, decorated with beautiful fresh flower. Located on the rue de Varenne in the 7th arrondissement, the stately building was originally called the Hotel de la Rochefoucault-Doudeauville and was built between 1732 and 1733.
We skipped the queue Italian style and ventured through the beautiful courtyard, passed the staircase through the Chinese room and into the magnficent garden. We did stand in line for a true Italian Illy coffee while the kids were running around in the garden.
Next on the programme was, of course, the Swiss Embassy given that the whole family posesses the little red passport with the white cross. The Swiss embassador's residence is located in Hôtel Chanac de Pompadour (also called 'Hôtel de Besenval'), built in 1704 by Pierre-Alexis Delamair and renovated by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart in 1767 for Pierre Victor de Besenval de Brünstatt.
The rooms were just as impressive as the ones at the Italian embassy just smaller. The little boudoir intrigued Expat girl to no end. The main feature was once again the garden. I must admit it was on the shady side whereas the Italian one was bathed in sunrays.
As expected we were offered Lindt chocolates before leaving the residence much to the children's delight.
On our way to the Russian embassy we were invited to enter the Dutch embassy. This hotel was built in 1720. The hotel belonged to Avaray before becoming Embassy of the Netherlands in 1920. This embassy definatley seemed to be the most convivial home of the three. There were lots of personal pictures thoughout the living rooms, a big teak table in the garden ready to greet a round of friends for an amicalble feast and a two deck chairs ready to welcome sunbathers.
Personally my living standard benchmark has just risen a notch after having visited these embassies much to my hubby's concern.