Paris (part 2).
It was here where we retreated on the first evening and were served wine and an assortment of the best hors d'ouvres I have ever tasted. They were so exquisitely presented - little cakes and little pots - that I had to restrain myself and not eat too many.
The lectures continued the next day on a variety of topics; all of them interesting but some I found so difficult, I had to resort to just making note of the papers. One of my favourite was on the evolutionary origin of nucleated a cells (non-nucleated cells combining). The speakers were obviously hugely enthusiastic about their subjects and each half hour was packed with exciting information.
Then, on the Tuesday evening, after a film showing early footage of microscopy taken at the Institute we were taken by bus to the nearby Invalides and the remains of Napoleon
in a tomb of various marbles, coffin within coffin, ebony, oak, mahogany, tin, until, eventually the red marble of something close (but not actually) porphyry - the traditional material for the tombs of emperors of the Roman Empire. I wondered at the space and richness, but a Frenchman that was walking alongside me declared it to be overdone, too ornate, and I guess it was, but only as much as all nineteenth century artifacts seem overdone - more is... more.
And everywhere there was Napoleon: in statues, friezes, even in glass cabinets containing his clothes.
His spirit was still there, watching over his beloved France and seeing all was well - even while we ate
our magnificent feast underneath crystal chandeliers, he was there - silhouetted on his balcony in front of his gold-leafed dome which burned bright as if on fire.
Gourmet food, wonderful wines and great conversations - I have never felt so privileged.