Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh To Be In Paris (Part IV)

Ok. As I said in my previous post, I have many things to add to this list. I'll see how much I feel like adding now. I apologize in advance if the list is very random.
  • Employees in Paris get so many benefits. Once you work for a French company and have to take transportation to work, you are re-imbursed 50% of your transportation costs. In addition, the French make sure that their employees are well-fed. If a company is big and has a cafeteria, employees should be able to get very hearty complete meals for less than 5Euros. Now, here is what I love, if the company doesn't have a cafeteria, they give their employees what's called les tickets restaurants (or tickets restos for short) for every day the employee is present at work. A ticket resto is essentially a ticket that has a certain value (usually between 7Euros and 9Euros). Half the price of the tickets are deducted from employees' paycheques and the other half is paid for by the company (or the government, I'm not sure which). The tickets restos are accepted by virtually every restaurant, traiteur, café or food place in Paris. I heard that they may also be accepted at the supermarket but I haven't tested that yet.
  • I love the employee benefits because, for one thing, I would be buying the metro pass even if I wasn't working. So although I have to pay half the cost of the tickets restos, where I would probably otherwise not eat out everyday, because I get half my metro pass paid for, it cancels out and it's like I'm getting the meal tickets for free! A lot of the places even give back change if you spend less and I also heard that some places allow you to use more than one at a time. Considering too, at lunch time, during the week, a lot of restaurants have fixed menus where you can get a 3-course meal for under 10Euros, it is excellent. I usually only eat out at lunch once or so per week because I love to use them on weekends when I go to more expensive places. You can be sure that I am never the only one paying by ticket resto.
  • Paris has a system of free bikes (aka bicycles) called vélibs. The word vélib is a play on the words vélo libre meaning free bike in french. Anyways, there are around 20 bikes at each 24/7 self-serve vélib service point and the service points are all located within 200 metres of each other all around the city. You can pick up and drop off the bikes at any service point. The first 30 minutes each time you use a bike is free so that means you just have to switch bikes every 30 minutes if you are riding around for long periods to not pay a dime. In any case, a day pass is only 1Euro and a 7day pass is only 7Euros. If you hold the latest metro pass, it is even easier for you to use the vélibs. I just got said metro pass this month so I hope to be using it soon. Actually, I am going to try using it tomorrow though I doubt any will be free. See below.
  • Since I am on the subject of transportation, Paris is notorious for their transit strikes. Apparently, they have at least 3 per year. I had been lucky that in my almost 4 months here there has been no strike. Of course though, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Thus, tomorrow evening at 8pm until Friday evening, apparently the Parisian version of the TTC (called the RATP) will be on strike. This is the first time they are striking since a law was put into place to make it mandatory for the RATP union to announce strikes 48hours before they begin so that commuters can make alternate arrangements. Shame that it will begin tomorrow evening because I think my workplace is having some celebration, this time at a bar, tomorrow evening.
  • As I mentioned in a previous post, everyone here drinks wine, made easier by the fact that it is in many cases cheaper than water. Well, apparently, a work celebration would be nothing without champagne. At my workplace, there has been almost one celebration or get-together per week (whether it is to celebrate a successful software launch or version release or whether it is for an employee farewell or something else). At every single one, there has been copious amounts of champagne and wine which people drink like water. The first time, with my boss encouraging me to try all the various champagne she had bought for the occasion, I had 3 or 4 glasses of champagne. A lot of the other workers had much more. I, however, had intended to go back to work for an hour afterwards. When I went back to my desk, I could not for the life of me concentrate because I was a tad tipsy. I had to give up and go home. Now, I am much better at this :).
  • I had also previously mentioned the fact that a lot of Parisians ride bikes (aka bicycles), motorcycles or use scooter bikes. However, I should have described more in detail HOW they do this....so fashionably. Women often wear their work attire complete with heels on their bikes and motorcycles and of course the men wear their suits. Another sight that I often see is that the women, wearing their work or dressy clothes and heels and having both hands holding onto the bike or motorcycle will have a cigarette hanging from their lips. I feel like saying CAPTION THIS when I see them. I also see quite a few business people, male and women, rolling by on their manual scooters, like the foldable ones that kids usually have.
  • Oh, I just thought of this one...There are lots of high-end European stores in Paris. I went into the Louis Vuitton store just to, you know, say that I stepped in the store. Average price of a very small wallet - 400Euros. Shoes, bags and luggage were 1000s of Euros. I swear the salespeople were serving tea to the buyers...the real buyers, not the plebs like me.
  • I also recently went to a French restaurant, located on the same street as the Louis Vuitton, on the the Champs-Elysées. It is a very nice restaurant and being on the Champs-Elysées it had a very nice décor. A new friend of mine's ex-boyfriend works there with a bunch of friends that she knew through him. Anyways, we went there together. It was her first time there as well. Since all the waitstaff knew her, we were treated like royalty. They gave us two servings of dinner, 1 bottle of rosé wine, kept re-filling our champagne glasses, nice appetizers (huge shrimp), and wanted to give us double dessert servings. Plus, every time any of them passed, they would pour out more wine for us, joke with us or ask if we are ok. I KNOW that many people in the restaurant were wondering what made us so special. We ended up staying at the restaurant for almost 6 hours, til midnight. The guys, workers, wanted us to stay later but sadly we both had work the next day. Seeing how they interacted made me once again wish I could be a waitress just for the experience.
That's all I can write for now. More to come in a later post.

1 comment:

Case No. 3KY687p said...

LOL, I love the "I went into the Louis Vuitton store just to, you know, say that I stepped in the store." That was exactly my attitude when I was pretend shopping on Rodeo Drive in LA this Spring Break with my sister and brother.