I am intrigued by an article in the Figaro last week which describes how the new President of the French Republic (whoever it turns out to be) will be able to redecorate the presidential palace according to whim--there's a vast repository of antique furniture and objets-d'arts, and a massive redecorating budget set aside for every change of government.
it turns out though French presidents have fairly predictable whims: most have stuck with the Louis XV desk selected by General de Gaulle--though Georges Pompidou daringly hung a black abstract Soulanges painting behind the desk. apparently he liked watching people's reactions to a painting that was shockingly contemporary for the otherwise 18th and 19th-century room. I wonder if the Chiracs have finished packing their bags (photo is younger Chirac at the famous desk)...and if they're going to miss the building. the Elysee is a marvellous "hotel particulier" from 1718, rarely glimpsed behind its elegant gates. it's remembered as the mansion of Jeanne Poisson, la Marquise de Pompadour; as far as I know, it's the only presidential palace in the world that was once the home of the king's mistress. but "La Pompadour" was one of the most brilliant women of her time and advised Louis XV on everything from international battles to interior decor...i imagine she would have been fascinated by the recent round of debates and interviews concerning the current contenders for her old home.