|Posted by Rachel J Roche on April 25, 2013 at 1:55 PM|
On Thursday the 18th April, I was lucking enough, as a newly accepted member of the Franco-British Lawyers Society (or l’Associaton des Juristes Franco-Britanniques), to be invited to dine with other members and guests at the private residence of Sir Peter Ricketts, the UK Ambassador to France.
This had been a highlight in my diary as I have been eager to meet other people who have a similar interest in all things French and British - and who also enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne in an awe-inspiring property which backs onto the gardens of the Elysée Palace.
Living just a 10 minute walk from the venue, getting there was a breeze and I soon spotted some others on route (the invitations protruding from their pockets a clear giveaway) and promptly tagged along. Passport and invitation validated at the front gates and I was in.
The genre of people in attendance were as diverse as expected, ranging from lawyers from France, the UK and the US, professors and lecturers from all over France, to various employees of the Embassy such as the liaison for France/UK and the deputy head of missions. Of course our host for the evening the Ambassador was busy mingling around and I found him charming and charismatic. He had also managed to tweet me during the day after I had mentioned something about the rendezvous on my twitter feed. As someone said to me during the evening, the place is a “hot house of diplomacy” – and it seems #digitaldiplomacy is also high on the list!
We were, I believe, 88 in total for dinner. I knew no one – or so I thought. After the initial mingling and finding my table, none other than my professor from droit de la responsibilité civile was sat right next to me! I had to do a double take when I saw his name place card to my left after having found my seat, but low and behold there he was. The Sorbonne and Kings College London run a joint venture for which he is involved, hence his attendance.
The food and carefully chosen wine was delicious and I managed to make some good contacts and enjoy some interesting conversations with all manner of different guests. The presentation from Sir Peter was excellent and there were some thought provoking questions from the audience regarding our current EU position, our assistance to France with regard to Mali and task sharing between the UK and France generally going forward.
I hope to be more involved with the Franco-British Lawyers Association in the future. The evening itself has also sparked my interest in finding out more about the workings and role of the UK Government abroad.
More updates soon.