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Louis et moi

Louis was giving me the eye.

A side-eye from above the gilded couch where he remained frozen in delicate brushstrokes.

His eyes followed me around le grand salon of the little palace that reverberated with joy at the musical interludes of Des Cordes de Loire, a group of young musicians who hold a week long festival each summer. Irene, my niece, is the cellist of the group. That night, they were invited by the kin of the old aristocracy whose family members had been beheaded for one reason or another, the details to be found in the history books.

I was surprised to learn that the new generation of former aristocrats work to earn a living even though they have these palaces with rolling hills and gardens like a mini Versailles.

At the little champagne gathering after the concert - and what a concert it was - the conversations flowed. There were snobs and eccentrics and some who were very funny. A few intellectuals and some storytellers.

The host stood straight as if pulled from above and spoke in the measured clips of a metronome. On the other hand, his wife floated like cloud on a breezy afternoon. With her little grandson in tow, she moved first with plates of little sandwiches, and then mini macaroons. Do you know I am the 7th generation who will go to HEC? shares Henri, sporting a jacket with reinforced elbows. He is barely 8 years old and already his destiny is assured. He is trapped, for better or worse. If privilege could be condensed into one small human form, it would be him.

I am sure I broke a million unsaid codes of such company. You never know the rules but you know when you break them. For instance, when I took a photo of the sun king, a few eyebrows went up.

Even, or did I imagine it, the eyebrows of Louis?