Nous nous excusons pour la gêne occasionnée

My first week of work is over and I’m tired. I’m not used to getting up early (and not taking afternoon naps). And I’m definitely not used to squeezing into a very full Métro every morning. I work on the outskirts of Paris, St Ouen. It’s technically not Paris, but northwest of it, but it’s so close that you don’t notice. St Ouen is also home to the giant flea market I visited two or three times.

I was warned about Métro line 13 has a terrible reputation, but I thought it will be okay. I’m leaving town and not going into the center, after all. But it’s too full in both directions. I’m slowly getting accustomed to it: every morning I wait a little less, before I decide to get in on the big group cuddle. What surprised me is, that when I hesitate and look at the people standing in the door questioningly they mostly nod encouraingly. “sure, what’s one more!”.

Friday afternoon at 5 I walked into the station and just heard the last part of the sentence in the title “sorry for the inconvenience!”. The trains were delayed in both directions and the platform was filling up. I let three or four trains go, before I took heart and squeezed in. It was very uncomfortable, standing in a train so full I was sqished up to the person behind me and I could feel his breath on my neck everytime he softly swore “Putain!” when nobody got off on the next three stops so the train didn’t get any emptier.

I am already dreading the summer months – the same squeeze but in 28+ degrees!

Other than the commute, I really enjoy the work. My colleagues are all very friendly and patient. They talk too fast, of course, for my French skills, but I already picked up a lot of tech vocabulary. I work from 9 to 6, with an hour lunch break, and they make an effort to include me in their acitivities. So far I didn’t join in playing the ps4. I’m not into racing games or shooting, but I spotted worms, so I might change my mind. And we played a board game for a few breaks and successfully escaped the zombies.

I dreaded working with a French AZERTY keyboard layout, and now I know why: It’s impossible. It’s not just the A, Q and W that are in the wrong place, but also the M isn’t next to the comma, but where the ö is on a QWERTZ keyboard. And to top it all off, all the punctuation marks are in different places and when you want to write a number you have to use shift.

I work in a linux environment now and it’s heavy on Terminal commands and while people tell me what to do, I hover over the keyboard (or as I like to call it now kewboqd) and look for the -,/ etc. So it’s challenging, but the work is interesting, and I enjoy it, and I already ordered a QWERTZ keyboard, which will make me about 30% more productive.

Gergö wanted me to call the blog post “Blois will be Blois” because we went to the town called Blois and the chateau Chambord on the weekend. Blois is a lovely little town in the Loire valley. It has an old city with timbered houses and a great market that we rushed through to see three or four hôtel particuliers. Blois is famous in France because from King Louis XII it was seat of the French Kings for a few hundred years.

The weather was foul. It was grey and rained, on and off. Just not a great day for an excursion. And the tour guide kept saying she will keep it short on account of the bad weather, but she didn’t. It was interesting, too, I just couldn’t appreciate it as much as I would have in sunshine.

After Blois we went to the chateau of Chambord. It was build by François I. It is famous for its double helix staircase and for the fact that it is neither a chateau to live in (too small, only 27 apartments and difficult to heat in winter!), nor to hunt at, nor a church, though it has ecclesiastical features. Simply put, it’s a work of art. Quite unique for its time: Every side of the façade is decorated differently, while it’s rather simple on the inside.

Edited to add: There was an elaborate ceiling at the chateau. A coffered ceiling (Kassettendecke) and as we gazed up, I heard Gergö say “mmm, Linzer Torte.” The layout reminded him of the grid of dough on that cake. Naturally I thought he was joking, but on our ride home he looked for a recipe and later actually bought all the ingredients for Linzer Torte. His comment on the blog post was: “You left out the cake!”.

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