Today is Friday October 6th, 2017. I’ll fly back home to Philadelphia today. Once again the previous day kept me busy with work, and preparation, and helping colleagues in the office so little time for tourism.
I did however, enjoy a phenomenal meal at Monsieur Bleu last night. Another incredible experience. Prior to coming to Paris, I was on a limited carbohydrate diet – a ketogenic diet. I made a conscious decision to relax that and last night was a massive departure… I loved it. I ate (and thoroughly enjoyed) the pre-meal bread with amazing salted butter. I ordered a beef dish – and devoured it. I even enjoyed a blissful dessert called Café gourmand. Essentially this was a plate of a variety of small(ish) pastries and mini-cakes and an espresso. I later learned that in french gourmand translates to the english word greedy. That sums it up really well – I want to taste ALL of these amazing desserts.
This has been an incredible, albeit short peek into a culture to which I’ve had thus far had little visibility. I’m grateful to have experienced it and I hope to return very soon.
Word(s) of the day:
Je suis reconnaissant
I am thankful
The French invented the metric system, the decimalized way of counting and weighing, in 1793 – the original prototype kilo, Le Grand K, is a cylinder made in the 1880s out of platinum and iridium and about the size of a plum, and was the only object known to scientists to have a mass of exactly 1kg. Everything else measured in kilograms is defined by Le Grand K. It’s kept locked away under three vacuum-sealed bell jars in a vault in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sevres, France. Duplicate cylinders were sent around the world and every so often they’re compared to the original. But Le Grand K mysteriously seems to be losing weight: The last time it was weighed, in 1988, it was found to be 0.05 milligrams (less than a grain of sugar) lighter than the copies.
Last night brought an opportunity to catch-up with a colleague who manages a region of Solutions Architects at MongoDB at an amazing restaurant – Livio, à Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Livio gained unfortunate attention after the tragic terror attack in November 2015, when the owner/proprietor Stephane Albertini, and the head Chef Pierre Innocenti lost their lives.
The food was incredible and the conversation even better… great time.
A last minute deliverable for a very important client meeting has cut the available time for this update short… hope to create a more interesting update for tomorrow, my last day in Paris.
Word(s) of the day:
Pourriez-vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous plaît?
Could you speak more slowly, please?
Agree. I kept hearing this sprinkled throughout conversation. Dukor… Dahkor… I asked a colleague and he said he couldn’t recall saying any words that sounded like that. I finally heard it on the news and read the closed caption… “d’accord”.
Today is Wednesday October 4th, 2017. Almost every minute spent in the office yesterday – but really great to be here. After dinner, a colleague, an Account Executive named Alexandre invited me to dine with his wife and daughter at their home near La Defense.
Alexandre has a daughter, about 2 years old who is absolutely adorable. Alex’s wife is from Italy and she prepared a fantastic meal including a great salad, and pasta carbonara. Afterwards, we enjoyed some of France’s amazing fromage (cheese). I feel a bit bad… perhaps rude – I have so much preparation for meetings tomorrow that I needed to leave right after eating.
Today, we’ll have a very important meeting with a customer here in La Defense so I’ve been spending a majority of my time prepping for that… not much Paris tourism today.
Here’s a list of things that jumped out at me as I walked the streets, met and engaged with the people of France.
Smokers – A lot of people smoke cigarettes. There’s not the same anti-smoking sentiment that exists in the states. For example, the restaurant I ate at yesterday had ash trays on the tables. Of the 5 or so tables on the terrace (an enclosed area – but outside of the main restaurant) 3 were occupied by people smoking cigarettes.
Driving – There are WAY more super tiny cars… a lot of taxi’s. Uber works here, btw – but Lyft, not so much. Drivers are aggressive – but not combative. For example, on my way to the office we drive down Avenue Charles-de-Gaulle. There are side streams to the street and it’s possible to go straight down the center lanes – or switch to the side feeder streams of the road. Many of the drivers switch back and forth trying to get where they’re going faster… nothing new there – right? But in the states, or, at least in NY, NJ, PA – you’d invariably run into an aggressive, road-raging driver that wants to punch you in the face. Here, although everyone is moving at high rates of speed and cutting in/out – there didn’t appear to be any rage. About 50% of the people on the road ride sleek scooters or motorcycles. They ride them in and out of traffic… They’re allowed to weave and to go between cars here – just as in California. I don’t think my Heritage Softail Custom would much fit in here what with the loud exhaust and the fat/wide body.
Bread Aroma – During what appears to be random times of day, the streets are filled with the heavenly scent of bread baking… reminds me of home, Sarcones. I tasted my first baguettes last night – really délicieux.
Stylish – A majority of the people I see (and I realize this could be because of the area of France I am in) dress really well. Men keep their hair cut well, neatly scruffed beards. Short / tight-ish suit pants are a major thing on guys. Slender sport coats.
Slender – It would appear that there are fewer really overweight people than in the states.
Tiny Cafe – The coffee here is REALLY good but there’s not enough of it. When I do get it, it’s in tiny cups. And people drink it slowly… relaxed. And when I try to go to the street to buy more – the shops are closed – or I need to sit down at a cafe to get some. GIVE ME A COFFEE SHOP WITH TO-GO COFFEE, s’il vous plait!
Tiny Food – Meals are smaller… could this be related to observation #6?
Direct – People are direct… to the point… but most I’ve met are friendly – this, btw, breaks a stereotype I’ve heard before that most French people are rude. Not so, in my limited experience.
Subway Doors – The subways have doors that guard access to the tracks when the train is not present. This, depressingly I was told is to prevent people from leaping in front of the trains.You can’t really see the doors in this shot – but they slide open when the train arrives.The subways have doors that guard access to the tracks when the train is not present. This, depressingly I was told is to prevent people from leaping in front of the trains.
dʒigabytes –The word for GB… Gigabytes in french is pronounced with a soft G… as in Regime, or genre – Gigabytes. The sound is represented or denoted /dʒ/ when writing phonetically.
Word(s) of the day:
Pouvez-vous m’aider, s’il vous plaît?
Will you help me, please?
Où sont les toilettes?
Where is the bathroom?
Got a crush on that hot person that just passed away? In France you can marry a dead person – under French law, in exceptional cases you can marry posthumously, as long as you can also prove that the deceased had the intention of marrying while alive and you receive permission from the French president. The most recent approved case was in 2017, when the partner of a gay policeman gunned down on Paris’s Champs-Elysees by a jihadist was granted permission to marry his partner posthumously.