Tuesday, May 9, 2017
…and the second Tuesday of every month 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Upstairs at Café de la Mairie, on the corner of rue des Archives and rue de Bretagne, 3rd. Métro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, République or Arts et Métiers Costs nothing except whatever you drink!
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
Today is May 1st, May Day and Labor Day in France, the day we’re not supposed to be working.
LOL! Me, not work? “Pas possible.”
When my daughter was very young, about five or six years old, and was asked what her mother does, she would say, “Work.” She didn’t even know what that meant at that age, nor did she know what I worked at, but she understood that whatever it was I was doing in that office of mine, it was not playing tennis like her father.
Fortunately, with the Internet, an office no longer has to be a particular room or place of work — it can be anywhere and anytime. It can be completely “virtual.” While my desk is in the living room of my apartment, my real office IS Paris…or Nice…or the TGV…or anywhere I have a laptop and an Internet connection.
Surely, this is like “preaching to the choir” — as I’d bet that most of you do exactly what I do: carry a small laptop or iPad, iPhone or other device that connects you to the Internet so that you are never without communications. “Have Laptop, Will Travel” is the motto, never stopping us from going anywhere or doing anything. Isn’t that right?
One of the things I’ve made a point of discovering along the route to a virtual office is where it’s best to “park” and work. Cafés with good WiFi are top of the list, especially if they make plugs available along with friendly service that doesn’t mind you being there for hours on end. When all this “virtual office business” started a few years ago, cafés in France were loathe to provide WiFi for fear of their precious seats being taken by coffee drinkers who weren’t profitable customers. Fortunately all that has changed as they slowly began to realize that without WiFi they were no use to mostly anyone, particularly their customers who are more often logged in than not.
Free.fr’s Xavier Niel
The funny thing is that now when I travel to the U.S., I find that there are fewer free WiFi spots there than in France. When the French grasp an idea, they do it with real conviction, and offering free WiFi is now “de rigueur” (the norm in fashion) in most public places (airports, train stations, etc.). The Mairie of the 3rd arrondissement offered it to its residents eons ago, before any of the other districts. The company “Free,” founded by Xavier Niel in 1999, was the first company to offer what they call the “triple play” service, claiming to have invented the single box concept offering high-speed internet, telephone and digital television packages, leading Free to become the world’s number one IPTV provider. The others had no choice but to follow in their footsteps.
I used to have two France Telecom lines into my apartment: one for personal use and the other for business. Installing Free.fr on both made it less expensive than subscribing to France Telecom and therefore I now have two Internet networks, two satellite TV’s and two land lines that call almost anywhere in the world for free. The cost of each “abonnement” (subscription) is 39.99€ per month tax included.
In addition, I have two cell phones associated with the accounts. One of them costs ZERO euros per month for free calls to fixed and mobile phones in France, U.S., Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, China, and another 100+ destinations for the first two hours and then only five cents per minute after that. SMS and MMS are unlimited in France and 3G and 4G Internet for up to 50Mo. Crazy right?
For 15.99€ per month, the second phone is totally free to fixed and mobile phones in France, U.S., Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, China, and another 100+ destinations, SMS and MMS are unlimited in France, plus 4G is unlimited. From
Europe, U.S., South Africa, Australia, Canada, Israel and New Zealand SMS and MMS is unlimited plus Internet is offered up to 5G/month on a set of destinations, year-round.
No U.S. company can beat this, and their competitors here in France are making a big effort to offer the same or better. As a subscriber to Free.fr, I also have use of their FreeWifi system all over France. When you turn on your WiFi and look for networks, you’ll see one marked FreeWiFi that seems unsecured, but it is secured by virtue of a subscriber’s username and password. This affords anyone with a subscription free WiFi any time and virtually any place, as long as there are other Free subscribers in the area…and there always are, since Free Mobile is the world’s number one IPTV provider. (See free.fr/assistance for more details.)
As a traveler to Paris and France, there are a variety of ways you can get connected. Of course, you should be staying in an apartment or hotel that provides Internet. Fortunately, almost all do these days. Our own apartments all do, of course, and if their subscription is with Free.fr, then as a guest, you’d have access to free WiFi anywhere anytime with which the username and password our concierge provides. If the apartment or hotel does not provide the service, cross them off your list.
Next, a good café will become your office-away-from-office so you won’t miss a work beat. What make a café great for being a virtual office is 1) good Wifi; 2) available electical outlets; 3) good people-watching or good view on the street scene; 4) good food at a reasonable price; and 5) good service.
I have particular affection for the chain of cafés run by Thierry Bourdoncle and you can find me at one of them regularly. Look for the classic interior design that resembles a French café located in New York, more than an authentic French café. The menus of each are different, as are their names, but you can’t miss their style in black and soft whites, blending the old with the new, classic Métro tile on their walls dripping with what is made to look like who knows what and their wait staff in white shirts, black pants and suspenders. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Café la Favorite
Le Café Beaubourg
* Café Charlot on rue de Bretagne, 3rd
* La Favorite at the Métro Saint-Paul, 4th
* Le Saint-Régis on the Ile Saint-Louis
* Paris London at Place de la Madeleine
And there are others. There is no listing anywhere that connects them all, so don’t even try. But when you walk into any one of them, you’ll know immediately it’s part of the chain.
Another Paris café I frequent and love for working long periods of time is Café Beaubourg at the southern end of the Centre Pompidou. I can remember when it was a typical café with lace curtains in the windows before Gilbert et Thierry Costes took it over and rebuilt it in 1987 at the creative design hand of Christian de Portzamparc. The WiFi works well and there are outlets everywhere. From either level, you can watch everything going on outside the Centre Pompidou. They make one of the best Caesar Salads in Paris, too — and I’ve tried them all! The waiters are in suits, the napkins are cloth and the ambiance is chic.
Yesterday I ventured over to Le Rostand, just opposite the Luxembourg Gardens, to give it a try and found it to be an almost perfect respite. The dedicated WiFi there sadly limits usage to 45 minutes, but the view on the edge of the park is lovely and the food is good. Fortunately, I had my Free WiFi to fall back on when the 45 minutes ran out.
If you need absolute quiet, then don’t count on the cafés. I like the din as I cocoon into my own “head space” and focus even better on what I’m doing. After a bit of time using the WiFi at the Café Beaubourg on Saturday, I visited the Walker Evans exhibit at the Centre Pompidou and after lunch and working at Le Rostand, I visited the Pissarro in Eragny exhibit at the Musée du Luxembourg…both just steps from the cafés and well worth a visit.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(at Café Charlot – photo by Erica Simone)
Respond to Adrian
P.S. After over 20 years living in France, we have learned the ins and outs and the inside information on moving, living and working here. We would be happy to help you make your living in France dream come true. Have a look at our Working and Living in France page and contact us today!
Welcome to your home in Paris. Home is how you will feel in a private apartment in Paris that has the “seal of approval” from ALG, Paris Sharing and me, Adrian Leeds.
Le Magenta is a spacious three-bedroom apartment newly renovated and decorated by our own Martine di Mattéo, perfect for those who need to get a little work done or who just like the feel of a little elbow-room while vacationing in space-starved Paris. Conveniently located a short Métro ride from both Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, the apartment is on the third floor of a good building on a quiet street.