Welcoming Madame La Maire and Paris Tourists
As the dignitaries were filing into the brand spanking new “Welcome City Lab” yesterday morning to officially inaugurate it, Laurent Queige, the “Délégué Général” (Managing Director), who himself single handedly created the new “incubator” (and who takes too much of a back seat to the ‘officials’ in my opinion), told me a story about how one little email changed it all.
He had been working on the idea for ages, all the while being told it was a ‘stupid’ idea by various colleagues and getting no real attention from the mayor’s office…until one day the Mayor (then Bertrand Delanoë) received an email from of the most important French companies in support of the idea and willingness to become a primary sponsor. That’s when the tide turned in his favor and he was able to take the reigns for this new project.
A mutual friend of mine and Laurent’s commented recently that Laurent may have been born French, but an American observer would say he has more American traits. He seems to think like an American, has the energy, enthusiasm and optimism of an American, along with the industriousness and gregariousness of an American and somehow missed the gene that most French “fonctionnaires” (civil servants) have to not think ‘outside of the box’ or do more than one has to. You’ve read about him often in Parler Paris, because he does amaze us all with these qualities and to watch him network for no personal gain other than his desire to accomplish something is impressive. This is why I say he takes too much of a ‘back seat’ to the others around him — but no doubt, this is one way he gets so much accomplished.
The journalists who had special entry to the official inauguration with the current Mayor Anne Hidalgo were busy taking notes about the new incubator designed to promote innovation in the industry of tourism, while I was getting the background story in whispers from Laurent, a story I’ve heard since the very beginning and have followed all along the way with him, feeling very privileged indeed.
Twenty-seven new start-ups are now working inside their 1,000 square meter facility behind the l’Arlequin Cinema on rue de Rennes thanks to the financial sponsors and Paris Region Lab team. The mostly young entrepreneurs seated at their desks surrounded by computer equipment worked away as Mayor Hidalgo and the entourage of officials and press followed her from one point to another. She stopped along the way to hear presentations by a few of the start-up members about their projects and ideas.
She seemed genuinely interested and asked questions. At the end of one such interview, she exclaimed, “Vivre la créativité!” in true French style. At the end of the tour, the Jean-Pierre Lecoq, Mayor of the 6th Arrondissement, made a short speech before introducing Anne Hidalgo to the podium. She is Spanish-born (1959), a member of the Socialist Party (PS)and the first woman to hold the office. Without notes, she made an eight-minute speech before the assembled crowd and then posed for group photos in the courtyard before leaving.
Being upfront and close, I observed that while she didn’t seem to have the stature and presence of Bertrand Delanoë, who could command an audience with eloquence, she was personable and accessible, and what seemed like genuine. There was no tension, nor did anyone in her presence seem awestruck. Is this good or bad? Hmmm…let’s just hope that as a woman, she will bring to the city a lot of heart…as Laurent has brought innovation.
A la prochaine,
P.S. Shari Leslie Segall, co-author of 90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French, had everyone in stitches yesterday at Parler Paris Après Midi as she read from the numbered excerpts from her mini-book and attendees had their own stories to tell. We could have gone on for days! Read all about it at Parler Paris Après Midi and and you can purchase your copy at FUSAC.
P.P.S. I’m headed to Nice this coming weekend in preparation for the Living and Investing in France Mini-Conference: Nice and the Côte d’Azur — a special presentation and Q and A on Tuesday, September 16th in Nice, with…me! Learn how to own a “pied-à-terre” of your own on the Riviera, in Paris or a home in the countryside that you can enjoy when you want…or profitably rent when you like…or just make a smart investment by owning property in France…plus ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted to ask! For more information and to register, visit our Mini-Conference page.
P.P.P.S. The annual La Rentrée Party for Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group is on Saturday, September 13, 2014. Snacks and light drinks will be served and there is a special offer on day only: receive 12 sessions for the price of 10, and 24 sessions for the price of 20. For all the details visit Parler Parlor
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