Adventures and misadventures in France.

Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Au revoir, vélo

Max has finally completed his temporary work assignment in Angers, which means I no longer have to bike to work! Sure, it was only 3 km each way to a colleague’s house, where I spent each morning cuddling with his adorable baby and chihuahua… But trust me, it feels good to arrive at work without a layer of sweat and body odor. My coworkers are probably equally pleased with the change. 

Biking to work, by the numbers 

Months without transportation : 6

Days biked : 72

Biking to work was inconvient and time-consuming, but it was also a great way to spend more time outside and make exercise part of the daily routine. Plus, we had a very mild spring and summer without too much rain – ideal biking weather. 

Dog casualties : 1

Days to re-sell the bike : 4

Two hours after my last commute, the bike was already posted to French Craigslist. Four days later, a nice family from a couple towns away paid more than the original price. And as we enter a delightful Indian summer, I’m more than happy to trade biking for some pick-up basketball and trips to the pool during lunch breaks!


The harsh reality of biking to work


Last week, I decided to try biking to work. With the best intentions, I researched potential routes, gathered weather-appropriate gear, and purchased a safety light and reflective vest. Rain was expected for Monday, so Max loaned me a rain jacket. I felt prepared and excited.

Expectation : 8 km, 30 minutes, stunning countryside views

Things did not go according to plan.

Leaving the house, there were some ominous clouds in the distance, but no rain just yet. Cruising along the route as planned, I was quickly reminded how little physical exertion I’m accustomed to. Sweating through three layers, I arrived in a quiet neighborhood and estimated that it was the halfway point. Someone’s adorable golden retriever got loose and began running along the road beside me, which was encouraging. But in a moment, the dog miscalculated his enthusiasm and crashed into the back wheel. Shocked and convinced that I had just killed my spirit animal, I threw the bike into a ditch and ran back.


After several minutes of pure panic, the dog was actually running around like normal, so it was time to go. Arriving at the next intersection, however, it was clear that someone (the map or I) had really messed up. Not only was I tired and very late for work, I was also lost.

Cue torrential downpour.

For a minute, I considered calling someone from the office to come find me. It also became apparent that Max’s jacket was not suited for rain at all. But another half mile down the road, I finally found a familiar road and knew the office wasn’t too far. Distance is relative when you’re struggling to maneuver a bike uphill on a busy road in the rain. Finally I arrived at the office, exhaused and soaking wet, a full hour late.

Reality : 11 km, 75 minutes, monsoon season

Where did it all go wrong?

Sure there are things I could’ve done differently. Bike the route ahead of time, get an earlier start, bring an actual rain jacket… details.

Will I ever bike again?

Absolutely. Maybe even tomorrow. But I’ll probably catch a ride from a coworker in the morning and stick to the mostly-downhill ride home for now.


Biking to work?

Monday morning,my week is already flooded with great news, bad news, and maybe-good news.

First, the great news :

Our company has finally moved into the new office building. While the kitchen and recreational floor haven’t been completed, all of our desks, computers, and office supplies have been unpacked. Here’s my new office.

photo (18)

I’ll be the first to admit that my level of responsibility and work experience do not merit an office this big. It’s very likely that I’ll end up sharing with a colleague, and that my career path will never lead to another setup as shiny and spacious. But for now, I’m very happy to work surrounded by windows, glass paneling, and oversized images of Times Square.

The bad news :

We’ve been putting it off for months, but Max’s contract requires him to spend some time working in client offices around France. A few months ago, he had a temporary assignment in Paris. It’s very likely that he’ll have another assignment an hour away for a period of several months. We’re lucky that he’ll be able to commute from home every day. But our new office is no longer within walking distance of our house. That leaves me with a few options for getting to work:

1) Beg coworkers to drive 3-10 miles out of their way so that I can carpool.

2) Learn to drive manual (and somehow obtain a car).

3) Bike to work.

The commute is 5 miles (8 km) each way. Google estimates that it should take about half an hour. Does anyone have experience with a biking commute? I think it would be a great way to energize before work and manage my variable work hours. The office showers will be completed in a month or two, and we’ll have bike racks as well. I’m a bit concerned about the busy two-lane roads and the weather, because winter and spring are monsoon season in our corner of France.

Please feel free to post advice in the comments below!


Château la Ferrière

Château la Ferrière

This past weekend, our company hosted a retreat at the Ferrière. It was a great chance to bring see employees based all over France. During the day, we attended workshops and meetings. In the evening, the hotel provided a delicious dinner while we participated in a trivia contest. We enjoyed a dj, open bar, and dancing until around 3, but I hear the party continued without us until 5 am!

Design Progress


Max and his team of assistants (though I prefer to call them minions) have busy producing 3D images of the new office building, set to open by May 2014. The boss has been taking a lot of employee input into consideration. One level of the new building is going to feature a workout space, cafeteria, and recreation room with pool and foosball.



Another Ruff Week at Work

Another Ruff Week at Work

Jojo appreciates France’s 35 hour work week – it helps him fit in power naps and walks.

Honestly though… I had to run back to the office after work (dog in tow) to re-activate the alarm system. The opportunity for a photo of Jojo sitting at my desk was impossible to resist.

From Dingy to Dramatic

Following the design process for our company’s new building has been fascinating. Today, Max created a 3D model of how the building will look post-renovation.

Here is the original building, on the day the company purchased it :

Here is how the building looks now, after the exterior power-wash and interior demolition :

And here’s Max’s design of the finished project :


Update : BZar offered that the building may be inspired by the iconic Centre Pompidou museum of contemporary art in Paris, known for it’s exposed beams, utilities piping, and structural elements. I’m curious to hear other thoughts about this!

My last visit to the Centre Pompidou was way back in 2010 during my semester abroad, but I’d love to go back!

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