Monday, January 29, 2007

Boat Shmoat, We're Going to Paris - Part 10

The next morning, Sean was scheduled to meet with the company’s career counselor at La Defense. So we both took the metro there together and Sean was anxious to see the building, as he is an architect and also the company’s offices. We breakfasted at the CNIT place and had café with chocolate croissants before his meeting at 10:00 am.

Sean was duly impressed with the building and we both had our daily passes manufactured while we waiting to get into the company offices. While he was meeting with the career counselor, I had the opportunity to ask Monsieur P if the car was left out of the contract by oversight. He replied that at my level there is no car in France. I said that Ms. S (of the manicured nails) told me there would be a car, and he answered that Ms. S must not know anything about company cars in France. (To be said in Steve Martin voice: Well excuse me!) France differs from all of Europe in respect to company cars. He indicated that I would have to be an entire level higher to get a car. Bottom line: no car. I thanked him for clarifying that and left.

Sean was finished with his meeting and while impressed that the company had made an effort to help with placing the spouse in a career, not that impressed with the effort itself. Sean had already covered the bases the company had suggested such as, going to professional journals, networking with professional friends, checking local papers, etc. Our next appointment was at 2 pm with a lawyer that the company used to arrange my work visa. So, we took the metro to a location near his office in central Paris to have lunch.

We were both kind of flummoxed that France does not give cars to people at my level, because first it was promised and second, that would be a deal breaker for us. It represented $10 grand at least, which was not being covered any place else. Part of our plan of being in Paris was to drive around and see Europe on the weekends and one needs a car for that. So we were deep into discussion of this, when our change from the lunch tab was brought. I counted it and we were short by 20 francs. Fuck. I had to go yell at the garçon and in French no less. He probably saw upset Americans who were unfamiliar with the currency and thought we wouldn’t notice we were being ripped off.

So I rushed up to him and yelled something like, “Give me the money fast!!!” It was the best I could muster quickly. He did, looking sheep faced and without apology. We rushed out of there without leaving any tip.

We made it to the lawyer’s office in plenty of time. Monsieur R met with both of us and was most kindly as he explained that a work visa for me would be very straight forward as I would be sponsored by the company and could work in France for 2 years. I would be required to go back to the U.S. for one month per year. We went over the paper requirements for me. When it came out that my father was born in Austria there was a bit of excitement. Monsieur R phoned the Austrian Embassy to see if I could claim my Austrian citizenship, but in a rather pissy tone the man at the embassy told me that my father surrendered his Austrian citizenship to join the American Army to fight in WWII and thus I was not eligible to become an Austrian citizen. Well, be that way. Hold a grudge. See if I care. It was exciting for a minute there though.

Monsieur R also mentioned that unemployment was high in France, at about 12%, and it would be tough for Sean to find a job and many French would see competition from Sean in a negative light. He also noted that Sean would have a difficult time not being fluent in the native tongue. Sean would have to stay on a travel visa until he could find employment and get a work visa. We thanked Monsieur R profusely and left.

We decided to shop on the Champs Élysées our way back to the hotel. Everything was so expensive. We wandered into a dress shop for children that was having a half price sale on summer dresses. There we bought two three beautiful handmade dresses for my niece that looked something like the ones pictured below. The dresses had lots of floral patterns with lace and hand work. They were to die for pretty. (She loved them and so did her mom.) How many little girls get their dresses from Paris? I ask you.

We got back to the hotel and decided to eat someplace at bit more exotic and less expensive that night. So we went out for Indian food. We found a small place near the hotel and ordered typical foods as we would at home. It was all wonderful, especially the cheese naan.

We asked the server what the cheese was in the naan, and he said, “Oh, it is just a local cheese that we buy at the street market.” We knew that this was true. Street markets could be found all over Paris. People would shop during the day, and then use the food bought there for dinner that night. Freshness was the daily mantra for the French cooks. You couldn’t go wrong with French cheese, meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit or wine carefully bought at these markets it seemed. Oh and they sold flowers for the table too.


Shaney said...

Please tell me the dress's were under $800...hehe
You now have me convinced working & living in France may not be so enticing. Expensive living, high unemployment & it seems they are not too big on the 'perks'. I am suprised an architect would be hard to place anywhere in the modern world. Sean must have been dissappointed? As would you have been.
And I cannot believe they declined your Austrian Citizenship even though your father was born there.
A naan looks a bit like a pizza..Yum!

Sue said...

They were $30-40 each. Very reasonable.

Yeah it was turning out to be a real bummer. The Austrian thing was because my dad came to the US and when he turned 18 he wanted to fight with the US Army and to do that he had to completely renounce his Austrian citizenship. As you may recall, the Austrians fought with the Germans and the Japanese Against the Allies in WWII. Hence, the pissy tone from the embassy.

You've never had naan? Don't you have any Indian restaurants where you live? Go and have some; I am sure you will just love it. If you don't know someone that knows Indian food, just go and ask the waiters what a first timer should get. Tell then how spicey or not you like your food. Thanks for commenting Shaney!

Shaney said...

Ok Sue I will do that...& Please....Dont thank me for the comments...If I didn't enjoy your writings I would not comment...:P