13 April 2016
Day 4 – Today I started my day by trying to figure out how to get to the PwC office in Neuilly-sur-Seine. PwC is in the first city outside of Paris. The locals say that is it Paris as it is so close and it is hard to tell where the line between Paris and Neuilly actual is. To get to the PwC office, the closest Metro is the 3, but there is a 10+ minute walk from the Metro station to the office. So we (mostly Jer) figured out that the 93 bus dropped me off pretty much right in front of my office. So I set off with my shiny new month metro pass to the bus station. I must say, the buses are much cleaner than in the US.
Once I got to the office, I was met by my colleagues to take me to get a badge and then my computer. So my computer, what an utter cluster. To my joy, the key board in French is AZERTY. You may be thinking, wtf is an AZERTY key board. Look down at the first line of letters on your keyboard, it is QWERTY. So you guessed it, there is a totally different keyboard in France. Also, I learned after trial and error with the IT guy, that to type numbers, you must be on caps lock, and the symbol keys are all different and you need to hold a new kind of shift key. Needless to say, right now trying to typing on my French computer, I look like a wood pecker, one key at a time with my pointer finger. I feel like a kid. Also, ALL of my programs are in French. All my PwC applications, all Microsoft applications. The IT guy was able to switch my settings to the QWERTY keyboard and have the programs all be in English (since you had to navigate there in French), but he switched them but never restarted so everything was still in French. When I came home, my own personal IT guy (Jer) was able to get everything in English for me (giving credit when credit is due). The worst part about getting my computer was that I was with IT for almost 2 hours, because my computer at first would not be recognized by the network. Thankfully, there was a Nespresso machine close by to help me stay awake while waiting.
After the computer debacle, we finished up close to noon. I met with local HR quickly, which gave me the 10 minute overview of the office and showed me to my office. Then I was met by my colleague, Timothee, for lunch. The French know how to lunch. My lunch was huge and priced well at PwC’s cantine. We took the standard 1.5 hour lunch, including cafe, before heading back to work. I did a few administrative items, then head out for the Metro to meet Jer to open a bank account at 15:00.
I met Jer at the HSBC by the Opera. Things that are helpful for those opening a bank account in France in the future. We were aware of some of theses items. 1) Passports 2) Utility bill from the US with BOTH names and 3) W9 for filled out and sent it before you get there. The W9 form is a linchpin. Without it being filled out and provided to the bank BEFORE you go, you can not get your banking information for a few days, which means Jer is still cell phone-less. So we are still bank account-less but at least the process was started. Jocelyn Leon-Dufour was super helpful but was trying to talk me into being ok with Jer getting a motorbike. Not going to happen.
After finishing at HSBC, we walked past the Opera and over to Galeries Lafayette – Haussmann. Holy Moly was this place overwhelming. It is 10 stories (-1 to 8) of high end shops but it is all open air. Each store (Celine, Tory Buch, Marc Jacobs, etc) has their own booth but then it is also separated by shoes, perfume/cosmetics, clothing). I am a seasoned shopper and this place is to much for me to handle. Jer and I found a Starbucks on 3 where we sat and just watched. The other thing that is impressive is the architectural design of the building from the inside. It was breathtaking. I took a picture of the stain glass dome (attached below), but you need to see it in person. We then headed over the Citadium, which is like Urban Outfitters, but set up open air style like the Galeries Lafayette, and three times the size of the Philly Urban. Jer and I joked that the Galeries Lafayette – Haussmann is old school chic and the Citadium is new age cool.
We then took the Metro home and stopped at the Market by our apartment. FYI, if your neighborhood has a covered market, it is generally open 5 days a week split between weekdays and weekends. If your neighborhood has an open air market, it is generally open 2 days, one weekend and one weekday. We bought some produce then headed to Carrefour, which is a supermarket, because I was overwhelmed by the meat counter at the market. We also stopped at a local boulangerie and I had my first all French conversation. Granted it consisted of ‘bonjour’ ‘un Bagette’ and ‘merci’ BUT I used all french in the convo. It’s the little things.
We made our first dinner in the temporary apartment, which was delicious if I do say so myself. The weird thing is we totally don’t have dish soap to run the dishwasher, so it makes a wonderful drying rack.
Time for my nightly Bourdeax and Jer’s 1664.
Step count: 14,300, 6.79 miles