mardi 8 septembre 2009
Moi for a day!
I interrupt my Bretagne series to tell you about my trip to Paris yesterday.
I had to go up for my work, for an Entretien d'admission for a program I am hoping to get into.
I took the TGV from Marseille, leaving at 7:30 am. The TGV was rather full, I guess all those people who do weekly commutes up to Paris- leaving Monday morning and coming back Friday night.
Tried to sleep/study/read on the train but couldn't manage to do any of it.

Arrived in Paris a little before 11, and managed to figure out how to get a Metro ticket. I decided to just buy a one-day zone 1-2 pass for 5€ and not have to worry about it. It probably would have been cheaper to buy a one-use ticket each time, but such a hassle. Plus, I didn't know if I would be pressed for time later.

I got on the RER A line and got off at Aubers, where I was going to be meeting one of my colleagues for lunch. He hadn't arrived yet, was taking the train in from St. Cloud, so I decided to walk around a bit, and walked towards the Gare St. Lazare. On the way, I passed a Printemps Paris store, so I went in and looked for a bit at all the expensive displays.

I was a bit offended actually because in their window displays they had stuffed animals (and no, not like teddy bears, like tigers and lions that had been shot and stuffed) and they were dressed up with accessories, like had a purse hanging from their neck and hair clips attached to their ears. I thought it was rather disrespectful to the animals. I didn't have my camera with me- I thought about bringing it, but had enough stuff to carry/worry about. Anyway, in the Printemps store there was a new display for the Yves Saint Laurent perfume Parisienne that is all over the magazines now. Qui est Parisienne? I guess the idea is that every woman can be a Parisienne if you wear this perfume! I toyed with the idea of buying a bottle to commemorate my trip, but I didn't really like the scent that much and for goodness sake I have enough perfumes already, so I didn't.

Walked over to Gare St. Lazare and still had some time to kill, so I found a Starbucks and went in. This is the first Starbucks I have been in France. I found their menu a bit more subdued than in the US, but still managed to have a Caramel Macchiato or something like that. It was good but very expensive- 4.50€ for a small size. Or perhaps I am just out of touch with current US Starbuck's prices.

Met my colleague (well, that is rather pretentious of me- he is a partner of my company) and we went to lunch at Hippopotamus, a steak restaurant. I wasn't very hungry, I had had some McDonald's breakfast on the train (not that great, I might add) and nervous, so I just ordered a salad, most of which I wasn't able to finish.
At 1 we said goodbye and he took the train to return to St. Cloud, and I got back on the Metro to head for my entretien.

I think an advanced degree in Paris Transportation must be required to figure out the Paris public transportation system. My goodness. Tons of different lines going every which way, plus the trains, tramways, buses, subway, and then the different zones...

I got off at my stop, Marx Dormoy at the Rue de la Chapelle in the 18th arrondisement. Not the best part of town I imagine. I walked to the meeting site and went in. There were about 40 other candidates for this program, and I am guessing about 40 more the next day. It was mostly men; I would say 30 men and 10 women or so. I didn't mingle much; I am not a good mingler, even in English. Plus I know the minute I open my mouth I'm going to get "Oh where are you from?" "Why are you here?" etc. I don't mind per se, but at the time I was nervous and just wanted to think about the interview.

At 2 the interview started, and they introduced the professors and explained a bit about the program, then gave us a little test (all in French) and 1 hour to complete it.
After the 1 hour, they collected the papers, and we were divided among the professors, who called us in, one by one, to discuss our papers.

Turns out I did so-so. I did a few things wrong, but then did some others well. I don't think anyone did it perfectly (if so, no real point in going to the program is there?) and I answered the questions that he posed me afterwards well. I think he was impressed by my professional/educational background and the fact that I passed the US exam. I think there is a bit of concern that the French might be too difficult for me, but we shall see.
I should know whether I am accepted or not by the end of the week. I was done with my interview around 4:15, so I walked back and took the metro back to Gare du Lyon, arriving around 5 pm. I was hoping that I would arrive in time to exchange my ticket (originally for 7:30) and catch the 5:15 TGV to Marseille. I was able to exchange it, and left Paris at 5:30. I went up to dining car (though calling it a "dining" car is a bit of a stretch- more like "Snacks, Coffee, Soda and Wine Car") and ordered a coke (3.40€ ouch). But it was worth it because I spent the next two hours looking out the panoramic window and enjoying the view.
Here is what I saw on the return trip:
1 Nuclear Power Plant
16 Windmills
510,564 cows
Got into Marseille at 8:30 and Alain came to meet me at the train station. Actually, he didn't really need to, but I originally thought I would be getting in at 10:30, at which time I wouldn't want to go back to our apartment by myself.
I was exhausted from my trip.

All in all, Paris: nice city, has its good parts and bad parts, but I wouldn't want to live there year-round or work there. Marseille, at about 1 million inhabitants, is large enough (even too large sometimes) for me. Maybe once we are retired I would like to have a small apartment in Paris and spend a few months per year there, go to all the museums and cultural events, then leave after a few months and return to the country.

But somehow, the catch phrase "Qui est Marseillaise?" probably wouldn't sell a lot of perfumes.

5 commentaires:

Frou Frou a dit…

Good luck with that. Is that something related to your work???
based on myths, who would not wanna be a Parisienne... Even though I would prefer Marseillaise - sun'kissed, Provence, Meditteranean...:)

Anonyme a dit…

Good luck. Keep us updated!

Mwa a dit…

Good luck with the job!

I agree with you on the Paris thing. I was there again a few months ago, and while it's ok for shopping and sightseeing, it seems too impersonal and expensive to actually live.

Starman a dit…

You had a rather busy day. I've never been to a Starbucks. Once you get to know the city and where to go, it isn't all that expensive.

Astrid a dit…

Good luck, hope you get it!! :)

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