Daily Ride – Manifestation motos taxis Goldwing dans Paris


A whole lot of  Gold Wings, with horns blaring… rolling down the streets of Paris, wearing orange vests. It’s hard to tell how many of them there are — maybe a hundred or so?

In any case, it’s a beautiful day for a street protest!

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You wouldn’t think that France is all that different…


Everyone’s driving at top speed – who will cross the finish line first?

… than America. After all, the populations are very similar, with a fair amount of diversity overlaying a Western Caucasian “base”.  We have a lot in common, France and the United States, and we’ve been fighting on the same sides in a number of conflicts. Heck, the USA even inherited conflicts from France — I’m thinking of Viet Nam. Not always to our advantage…  but there you have it.

In any case, when we travel abroad, especially to Western European countries, we Americans can lose sight of the considerable differences between our countries and cultures. We may not even be aware they exist.  A lot of us go to Paris for vacation — passing through or staying a while — and plenty of American college students spend at least some time in la France.

But traveling for pleasure and business are two different things. And when you’re doing business — as a full-fledged adult — in a commercial context, the separation between the two countries can become quite pronounced.

Prohibitive, even.

In the years that I worked for a company based near Paris, the differences were a source of constant bafflement and frustration for both sides. A lot of what  Americans did, didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to the French. And vice versa, for sure. The odd thing was, there was no concerted effort on the part of Management to help anyone overcome the blocks. I’m quite sure it impacted the bottom line, but there was an almost carefree indifference about the cultural divides between France and the USA.

As though it were simply our jobs to deal with it.

As though “it” (being the divide) didn’t exist at all.

Looking back, it seems odd. Or maybe it was A French Thing, where you pay no attention to the seething chaos around you, and simply go on your merry way as though all is well. I certainly saw plenty of that in the lower ranks. Perhaps it reached northwards up the ladder as well.

In any case, we were left to our own devices to figure things out, sort out how to deal with one another — or not. Some of us did it better than others.

Some of us just picked up and left.

Others hung in there and toughed it out.

Bottom line is, France and the USA are really quite different – especially when it comes to corporate culture. And when you’re an American working for a French company, be aware. And beware. There’s potholes on that thar race track to greatness.

 

 

 

 

But I could go to Paris now, without too much concern


Paris_Night

Source: Wikipedia

It looks like — knock wood — the snow has stopped falling in my neck of the woods, and if I were to take off for Paris, I wouldn’t be leaving people in a lurch, putting them in charge of moving snow.

I’m seriously considering a trip in May, when my schedule looks like it’s opening up a bit, and I’ll be on my own while my better half is away on a business trip.

Just a quick jaunt over — 4 or 5 days, tops. Just enough time to be there, walk around a bit, sit in a café and sip an espresso while reading a newspaper or book. Just enough time to simply be there.

That’s what I missed, going over to Paris on business — the ability to just be there. Everything was so frantic, so rushed. Everything was so damned important. No time to just sit and enjoy yourself — which was probably as much about me traveling with Americans, as it was about the conditions. My American colleagues didn’t seem to enjoy stopping to savor as much as one might. Sure, they’d go out for drinks after work, and they’d walk around and see the sights… but stopping to savor?

It’s tough to relax when you don’t speak the language, everything is foreign and unfamiliar, and you feel like you have to be on your guard.  It’s easy to feel that way in Paris. So, the main focus was work — all about business.  There are a million little rules you learn about business etiquette, cultural do’s and don’t’s, temperaments and inclinations… what will get you ahead, what will hold you back, what is politically positive and what is inadvisable. You’d think that doing business in France would be fairly straightforward as a Caucasian Westerner, but au contraire. It was anything but that.

It was what it was. And we all had to make the best of it. You learned as you went, and if you stuck around long enough, eventually you became acclimated — and got pretty Zen about it.

Traveling to Paris on business was a whole deal in itself — chock full of surprises and lessons, from the minute you got off the plane, to the moment you got back on to go home. You learned, or you sank. While jet lagged. And whilst trying to make a good impression with our Gallic professional hosts.

Not much time for stopping and savoring the delights of Paris, under those conditions.

But now, on my own steam and on my own time, with my own agenda and schedule, it could work. And I’ll have enough time up front to research moto taxis to take into the city. I may even get in touch with a former colleague who swore by them — and indirectly talked me into taking one, last year.

What a ride that was! And how much I learned. I have a feeling it will stand me in good stead, if I decide to go.

Statue at Les Invalides


This is one of the sights I never got to see, while I was in Paris. I spent a bit of time in the city, but it can be difficult to see everything you hope to, when you’re working on two continents. I spent an awful lot of time on my trips pulling double-duty: working 8-5 on French time, then putting in 4-5 more hours on US time, so my projects stateside wouldn’t stall while I was in France.

For all the romance that travel to Paris promises, if you’re going on business and you’re working the whole time, there’s not always a lot of discretionary time to see the sights.

You can always go a day early and stay an extra day on the back end, but family responsibilities may prevent that.

In any case, I’m looking forward to returning — on my own terms.

EUtouring

Here is a photo we took of a statue we believe is made out of marble, found at Les Invalides in Paris.

More information and details at http://www.eutouring.com/hotel_national_des_invalides.html

Statue at Les Invalides

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