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Archive for December, 2010

Happy Holidays to everyone

December 29th, 2010 1 comment

Hi readers, I just wanted you to know that I’m busy travelling and being with family and friends back in the US during these holidays (Chicago, New York, DC…back to France Jan. 4), and I’ll have more content and an improved site in the coming new year. Wishing you all a warm happy holiday season!

cheers,
Michael

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My American Market newsletter: American Clubs profile

December 21st, 2010 No comments

I’m a contributor to the monthly newsletter put out by My American Market. You can read this month’s edition here and download it here. You’ll see my article on pages 8-9, an interview with Aurélien Cottet, who gives insight into the American Clubs.

A lesson for entrepreneurs in France

December 16th, 2010 3 comments

As President George W. Bush is rumored to have famously (and shamefully) stated, “the problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” (Of course, that is a French word).

For those who think that entrepreneurs cannot succeed in France, think again. As Marc Simoncini, founder of Meetic (a dating website) proves, it takes smarts, determination and vision, but the landscape in France is evolving and although the country is not as capitalistic and entrepreneur-driven as the US, it is improving.

The Economist profiles this remarkable entrepreneur’s rise, fall and rise again, with pertinent commentary on entrepreneurship in France. Excerpts are below.

Do you have stories of success and/or failure in starting a business in France?

Lucky in love
A serial entrepreneur shows France how to love, and how to fail
Face value: Marc Simoncini Dec 9th 2010 | PARIS | from PRINT EDITION

WILD and passionate lovers are much admired by the French establishment. Wild and passionate entrepreneurs, not so much. Marc Simoncini, the founder of Meetic, Europe’s biggest dating website, is therefore something of an outsider. His career has seen more ups and downs than the romances he helps to spark. “I have been poor, very rich, ruined and now very rich again, at least on paper,” he says…

…Apart from Meetic, he has invested several million euros in Winamax, a poker website. (His partner in the deal is Patrick Bruel, a singer and professional poker player.) Last year he set up Jaina Capital, a fund through which he plans to invest €100m in five or six French start-ups over the next two years. He already acts as an angel investor for several young online companies. And he recently launched a television show in which he introduces an entrepreneur in a few minutes every day.

After his spectacular rebound Mr Simoncini feels drawn to philanthropy. Next autumn he will launch a private internet school in Paris. His aim is to create an ecosystem for aspiring online entrepreneurs, teaching them the tricks of the trade and perhaps helping them raise capital.

Mr Simoncini frets that entrepreneurial success is frowned upon in France. But he concedes that it has become easier to create a business. There are fewer bureaucratic hurdles than before, and the bursting of the internet bubble has reduced the stigma of failure by making it commonplace. Recent reforms have re-energised France’s entrepreneurial culture, says Frédéric Iselin of HEC, a French business school, who has also been an internet entrepreneur. Yet Timothy Bovard of INSEAD, a business school near Paris, insists that anti-capitalist thinking is still pervasive. Mr Simoncini has not forgotten the lessons of his yo-yo career. “If tomorrow the French state votes a law that prohibits internet dating, I will be poor again,” he shrugs.

Christmas events in Paris, Coldplay’s new Christmas song

December 15th, 2010 No comments

Tis the season, n’est-ce pas ? In addition to the events listed by American Clubs of France, you can find more events in Paris for the holidays at this website.

According to Expatica:

“The new comprehensive english speaking guide on what’s on in Paris during Christmas and New Year’s Holidays. Where to eat, special Christmas menu; nightclubs for the best New Year’s Eve or celebrate at the theatre, ballet, opera, cabaret or burlesque: find the most amazing and unique Christmas gift with a Parisian flavour and much much more! Find out a new tip every day from now until Christmas 2010.”

One of the most helpful posts is perhaps the list of illuminated neighborhoods in Paris (see below).

Joyeuses fêtes !

Neighborhoods illuminated:

Rue de Richelieu, Paris 1
Rue Montorgueil, Passage des Panoramas, Paris 2e
Old streets of the Temple and Britain, Paris 3e
Rue Saint-Paul and Rambuteau, Paris 4e
Rue Mouffetard, Place de l’Eglise Saint-Médard and place of Contrescarpe, Paris 5e
Boulevard and the Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the Rue du Dragon, Paris 6e
Rue de Grenelle and Boulevard Raspail, Paris 7
Carré de Castellane, rue Royale and François 1er, Paris 8th
Streets and Vignon Caumartin, Paris 9e
Marché Saint-Quentin and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, Paris 10e
Rue Oberkampf Paris 11e
Rue de Charenton and the Viaduc des Arts, Paris 12e
Avenue des Gobelins and Italy, Paris 13e
Streets of Alesia, Daguerre, and Brézin Didot, Paris 14e
Lecourbe streets and Cambronne, Paris 15e
Streets Duret, Lesueur, Pergolesi, des Belles Feuilles, Annunciation and Avenue de Passy, Paris 16e
Rue de Courcelles, Levis, Poncelet and avenue des Ternes, Paris 17e
Place and Rue des Abbesses, rue Lepic and High Montmartre, Paris 18e
Secretan Street and Avenue of Flanders, Paris 19e
Rue de Belleville, Jordan and the Pyrenees, Paris 20e …

Lastly, I leave you with my new favorite Christmas song, “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay, filmed in London.

The American Clubs of France Newsletter #14

December 15th, 2010 No comments

The American Clubs lists events around France for expat networking opportunities. You can find the latest newsletter here (published every 2 weeks). You can join their mailing list here.

You will see this issue includes many holiday-related events, including Jan: 6 “Galette des Rois” party with American University Clubs of France.

Ikea to decorate & furnish Paris bus stops Dec. 15-21

December 13th, 2010 No comments

According to French PR and communication news, the Swedish furniture specialist, Ikea, will decorate and furnish 12 bus stops in Paris in a promotion from Dec. 15th to Dec. 21st, at the following areas: Place de la Bastille, rue de Rennes, Opéra, Etienne Marcel, Sèvre Babylone, Saint Michel. Enjoy the couches and take pictures, it’s part of a promotional campaign and you can get prizes. See below for more information.

La célèbre marque suédoise de meuble IKEA, habillera les abribus de la capitale aux couleurs des salons cosy. Prenez une petite pause pendant les vacances de Noël en vous vautrant dans les canapés installés du 15 au 21 décembre dans Paris. Une opportunité et une opération visible susceptible de briller auprès d’une cible parisienne mais également plus largement internationale. Où ? Place de la Bastille, rue de Rennes, Opéra, Etienne Marcel, Sèvre Babylone, Saint Michel soit près de 12 abrisbus scénarisés pour cette fin d’année.

La course aux abribus : Shootez-vous tranquillement installés sur ces canapés et gagnez des chèques cadeau, les 10 premières photos publiées sur la page facebook d’IKEA France remporteront les gains. La photo la plus décalée se verra également attribuer le chèque cadeau… Ouch, on s’attend au pire.

This article from Stratégies (a French magazine specialized in PR, communications, media and marketing)

Ikea va transformer les Abribus en salons
Le distributeur Ikea transformera des Abribus parisiens en salons équipés de canapés. Conçue par l’agence événementielle Ubi Bene, cette opération se déroulera du 15 au 21 décembre et constituera le quatrième détournement réalisé par l’agence pour la marque suédoise de mobilier, après ceux de la gare de Lyon en 2008, du métro parisien début 2010 et de L’Olympia au mois de juillet.

Wikileaks, Sarkozy and France’s reaction

December 12th, 2010 No comments

In this week’s Bonjour Paris, I write about the Wikileaks scandal and the reaction in France. Excerpts below. Click on original story for links.

France has not surprisingly reacted strongly to the leaks, and many French media sites have profiled the story. This site describes, among other things, how the cables match up with different geographic locations, especially given the fact that the vast majority of the 251,287 cables are not yet available.

President Nicolas Sarkozy was described by some American diplomats as “susceptible and authoritarian”, a view many of his countrymen hold but that is revealing to find in the inner circles of American statesmanship. But of course, these messages were not intended to be read all over the world by non-diplomats, and the U.S. is far from the only country with sensitive, potentially offensive, information in its inner diplomatic cables.

Sarkozy was also profiled as “the most pro-American” president in France since WWII, and in 2006 before he took office, he had suggested that France could possibly send in forces to Iraq to help their American counterparts. This gesture was well appreciated by the Bush Administration, even if it did not come to fruition. U.S. diplomats also characterize Sarkozy as the “most influential leader in Europe” who is a “brilliant, impatient, undiplomatic, unpredictable, charming, innovative pragmatic.” American authorities were also interested in Sarkozy’s Jewish heritage and how that could affect France’s Middle East policy (it is traditionally pro-Arab). But he is also described in a bad light as “impulsive and frenetic.” Now France is “scrambling” to avoid its own scandal similar to Wikileaks.

Paris transport system slowed down by snow, Eiffel Tower shut

December 8th, 2010 No comments

So after much of France was hit by significant amounts of snow (15 inches in Lyon, etc.), Paris is finally getting hit by some winter weather (very uncharacteristic for Paris in general, especially at this time of year). However it is not as bad, and total snowfall for the Paris region is predicted to be 5 to 6 inches maximum. But you can never be 100% sure. For the latest weather conditions, check out Méteo France’s map of weather warnings (you’ll see the weather warnings are not limited to Paris).

Right now the Paris RATP public transport system is experiencing significant delays, with the bus network “paralyzed” as crews clear the streets (they are not used to snow here). Metro lines 5, 6, 8, 9 and 13 are experiencing delays. RER A and B are having some technical problems as well. See their site for more information. You can also see for RER trains updated information on this site.

National railway operator SNCF has also warned of 30 minute delays or more for some TGV’s (high-speed trains). France24 reports on traffic delays due to weather and that the Eiffel Tower was shut down today.

For up-to-date air travel info, check with your airline. BBC says that Charles de Gaulle airport had temporarily stopped flights.
You can see some video here.

I know I walked to lunch today from my office, the snow was coming down quite hard and the streets had yet to be cleared. Good luck and try to enjoy the beauty of the snow!

Lyon’s Fête des Lumières starts tonight thru Dec. 11th

December 8th, 2010 No comments

Lyon is a wonderful city with a rich culture and history as well as modern innovative industries, world class food, museums, parks and architecture, not to mention the host to many events and the site of Interpol. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as I posted before.

Its most famous event is the annual Fête des Lumières (“Festival of Lights”) which each year attracts an estimated 3 million visitors over a span of 4 days for a magnificent light show. Consider that the population of the Lyon metro area is about 1.7 million, and you realize how big that number is. I’ve been the past couple years and it’s definitely worth it. The only thing annoying is the crowds, but that’s expected. You can see some pictures from last year’s event at BBC. It has its origins when the people of Lyon lit candles to thank the Virgin Mary for saving the city from the black plague. Now it’s since 1999 a modern light show with the main sites of the city the objects of dramatic and sophisticated light animations with colorful lasers, layered digital graphics and world-renown technology. It’s really quite remarkable (the picture above is of this square, Place des Terreaux). You can see a video of the scene here.

You can find more information on the festival’s background here, and the official festival site (available in English) as well. This page has a simple list of main sites to see as well as hours of the shows (notes below). December 8th, 10th, 11th will go from 6pm to 1am, and December 9th from 6pm to midnight.

The Lyon culture site has information on the festival as well (in French).

I know I’ll be going. Have a good time!

Bien d’autres illuminations et animations visuelles se dérouleront au coeur de la ville, comme à Ainay (dans le 2ème), Gerland (7ème), Confluence (2ème), Duchère et Vaise (9ème), Plateau (5ème), Plateau de la Croix-rousse (4ème), Foch (6ème), Guillotière (3ème et 7ème) et enfin l’Ile Barbe.

Les animations seront visibles de 18H à 1H les 8, 10 et 11 décembre et de 18H à minuit le 9 décembre.

Winter storms hit France, Europe; flights disrupted

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

As you have probably seen on the news, snow and cold weather has hit large parts of Europe, including a good portion of France. Although Paris has been spared most of the snow, it is still quite cold here, in the low 20’s at night (-7 Celsius), more like an average Chicago winter day. But in other parts of France, my friends in Grenoble, Lyon, Annecy, Eastern France all report anywhere between 8 and 16 inches of snow, so it’s quite a significant snowfall. England and Germany have been hit hard, as well as Poland, Italy and several other countries.

You can get updates for France from Le Point where they say that likely 25% of flights at Roissy CDG are cancelled and 10% at Orly for Thursday. But they said snow will last another 24 hours in France before likely turning to rain. Authorities are having a difficult time de-icing and salting highways, so be careful driving in France. Here is a map of temperatures (Celsius) for Thursday in France.

CNN also covers the storm in Europe, and flights at airports like London Gatwick, Frankfurt and Munich have been significantly disrupted with cancellations and major delays (NB their 3rd picture is Lyon’s Place Bellecour). BBC writes that flights have been severely disrupted as well in Brussels, Vienna, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Geneva, Berlin, London Heathrow and Prague. Over 3,000 people in high-speed German trains had to spend the night in the train as they were blocked by weather. They too have pictures of the storm in Europe (once again with 4th picture in Lyon).

You can get travel updates for Paris airports here. Check with your airline as well and the airports for your cities. France24 has a comprehensive guide for travel in snow-covered France and Europe. High-speed rail like TGV in France has been somewhat delayed. Check Infolignes SNCF for alerts.

For French weather, check Météo France. Bundle up, save travels!

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