May 16, 2006

Merci de votre comprehension

I worked in Paris last week, and had a chance to see a few of the sights. You could not turn around without seeing an advertisement for The DaVinci Code. The movie promoters had bought half of all of the advertising space (the movie opens the 2006 Cannes festival), both above and below ground. The remaining half of the space was covered with pictures of Peter Falk as Colombo in front of his old Citroen selling auto insurance, proclaiming 'Pas de problem!'

For the most part we worked, from early in the morning until late at night. The first day we worked until around 10 pm and then found our way to a restaurant for dinner, where we ordered fondue. The waiter lit a burner beneath a smallish cauldron of bubbling oil, and laid out forks with long handles and a platter of cubed beef. Tres bien.

One day I happened to read an article in the New York Times about how run-down the Universities of France are, especially those in the suburbs of Paris, take for example the campus in Cretein I was visiting. I thought it was understandable that the place was showing its age (peeling paint, a few dings and holes in the walls), since it was built in the 60s, but then our hosts told us that the university was built in the mid-80s. But they had employed a lot of energetic young scientists, including a guy who used to work for me in Copenhagen. The picture is of the apartment buildings in the neighborhood by the university-- those leaf-shaped things (don't they remind you of an artichoke?) are balconies.

One night we went on a tour of the town after finishing the day's experiments. Starting at 10 PM we went from Sacre Cour to Moulon Rouge, then by subway to Les Halles, past Hotel de Ville (the town hall is called 'hotel of the village'), Seinne, Sorbonne, Pantheon, Notre Dam, and ended up at the hotel at around 2.


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