A day out in Paris

Yesterday was a wonderful day out – I took a Thalys high-speed train to Paris and had lunch with Guillaume du Gardier and Elizabeth Albrycht. Down early in the morning, back late in the evening.

That’s one of the other terrific things about blogs – you get to meet the best people. Guillaume and Elizabeth are both in Paris, I’m in Amsterdam. We’re virtually neighbours. Not only that, we have much in common, both in what we do and how we think about what communication tools like blogs can do for organizations.

So we enjoyed a delightful lunch at Restaurant Les Alchimistes just off the Boulevard des Italiens and whiled away quite a few hours with lots of discussion. I also had the pleasure of meeting communicator and blogger Christophe Ducamp. While we all didn’t fix the European business world’s problems, we got darned close!

It’s been a while since I was last in Paris, and the last time my journey was by KLM to Charles de Gaulle Airport, not by Thalys to the Gare du Nord. The Thalys service really is excellent: modern, fast and very comfortable trains. The journey is a little long (4 hours) because the rail network between Amsterdam and Brussels – basically, in The Netherlands – just isn’t yet up to scratch for high speed trains like Thalys. From Brussels to Paris, it’s a different story – TGV all the way. A new high-speed line is under construction in The Netherlands; when completed in 2006 it will mean a journey time to Paris from Amsterdam in less than 3 hours.

So some quick impressions as I traversed Paris. The Metro is as unremarkable as ever. The service is fine but the trains are old and uncomfortable. There never seem to be enough metro trains running as any train is always absolutely packed with people. At least, that’s how it was on routes 5 and 8 yesterday.

The Gare du Nord is a highly efficient station, as far as railway stations go. It has a wireless network, which I didn’t actually use so I can’t tell how good it is. A highly visible service, though: signs everywhere in the station to buy a token card to get a login ID and password. (Think what a great customer relationship boost SNCF would enjoy if they offered free wifi at the station.)

One thing about that station, though, that is the same every time I’ve been there over the years – in the winter, it is damned cold in there!

I’m writing this post on the train back to Amsterdam in between chats with my seat passenger, a delightful young Parisian lawyer. She has an iPod, which was how we got chatting. She thinks it’s very cool indeed, perfect for use on long train trips. She listens to music on it (well, yeah!); I think she’ll be thinking about podcasting now as that was a topic we discussed quite a bit. I’ve really got to get one of these digital players, not necessarily an iPod.

I can’t do anything with this post until I get back to base and can connect to a network, so it won’t go on the blog until Friday morning. The day must come soon when transport services like trains offer a wireless network. If airlines are beginning to do it, so must services like Thalys.

Yes, yesterday was indeed a wonderful day out.

5 thoughts on “A day out in Paris

  1. And it was simply fantastic having you here, Neville! It is amazing how fast time flies when you are having such great conversation.
    Next time, we’ll come to Amsterdam! Maybe it will be warmer…

  2. bonsoir neville
    Back in normandie. Very tired today with a lot of hope in mind. It was a great pleasure to meet you. Let’s follow-up our conversations via wiki before our next meeting. I suscribe to your RSS. May I propose you a future meeting in Normandie (one hour from Paris ?) 🙂

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