I think we all know what happened to the aristocrats in the French Revolution. But those of the butterfly world were apparently spared. One of the joys of crossing the Channel is that you are very soon seeing Swallowtails, both our exceedingly rare British one, Papilio machaon, and the continental Scarce Swallowtail which is striped like a zebra.
I was really excited, though, to find this Purple Emperor, in the middle of lunch at a cafe in the exceptionally pretty village of St Jean de Cole. I have often admired the Emperor's purple sheen in collections but never seen one alive and never expected to. In the UK at least it is notorious for keeping to the top of trees.
It can be tempted down with over-ripe fruit, however and although that didn't feature in our delicious lunch, French emperors may have more refined tastes than their British counterparts. Certainly this one spent a lot of time in the cafe's neat little herb and vegetable garden. It reminded me of the French translation of Peter Rabbit which adds toute sorts de legumes to Beatrix Potter's original text, along with the comment: C'est un peu dur, les radis, may si appetissant.