To Market, To Market!

Let’s play spot the difference. What is the difference between these two photos?

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Well, yes, there’s a little old lady in the top photo but that’s not the answer.

Guess again.

And no, it’s got nothing to do with my love of endives that you can spot in the forefront of the bottom photo.

It’s the plastic bags.

As of January 2016, you will not be able to get a plastic bag at the market.


As part of a wider movement already being implemented in supermarkets and chain stores designed to reduce wastage, plastic bags are being entirely phased out.

There seems to be some confusion about when exactly the ban will come into place and what exactly it will entail.

This is what we know:

Not content with banishing the thicker bags at the check-out, in October 2014, the Assemblée Nationale voted to get rid of the thin plastic bags found at fruit and vegetable counters. Billions are used (12 billion per year apparently¹) and then immediately thrown away each year.

The plastic bags are to be replaced by more eco-friendly versions, made of organic matter which are then supposed to be recycled in compost heaps. (However, I think I am the only person of this city of 2 million who does her own composting!² I would love to know how many other people would also be able to do this…)

It’s not even like you’ll be able to buy a bag for 5, 10 or 50 cents. Plastic bags are being completely done away with.

We’re going to start seeing more and more paper bags from now on. However, there is some resistance to these too, given that they also need to be recycled.

Where it starts getting complicated:

In Sept 2015, Ouest France stated that the new law is to take effect on 1st January 2017. I wonder if this is a typo?³

There are worries that paper bags are not as strong as their plastic counterparts. Have you ever tried putting a melon or pineapple in a paper bag?! Even a kilo of apples? We potentially stand to waste a lot more food should the bag rip.

There is also talk that this plastic bag measure will apply at the fish counter too. Let me just say, if there’s one thing that I’ll draw the line at…. I ain’t hauling any salmon straight over my shoulder!

Imagine you’re at your local Franprix or Carrefour. Instead of buying your fruit and vegetables loose, you will probably favour buying your vegetables in a pre-packed bag now because it will be easier than fishing around for a loose potato at the bottom of your handbag. Supermarkets are the biggest source of waste, both in terms of alimentary waste – which they’ve been told to crack down on – and packaging. Why are they not being told to sell more of their fresh produce en vrac / loose?

Anyway, rant over. What this all boils down to is: if you’re a local, don’t forget your caddie or shopping panier when you go to stock up on spuds. If you’re a short-termer or tourist in Paris, it may be a little bit harder but you’ll have to consecrate a tote bag or something similar for transporting your veggies.

The “Parisian market experience” will also irrevocably change. The days of “servez-vous, monsieur, madame, servez-vous!” will soon be behind us.

¹ Ségolène Royale, Minster for Ecology – quoted in Le Figaro, 2014.

² You compost too??! 🙂

³ Link to Ouest France article here.

Co-Working Spaces in Paris

So many people have the dream of moving to Paris for a month or two. Of “upping sticks” and relocating to the city of lights, the capital of romance and the centre of cheese. It’s becoming easier and easier as our increasingly nomadic working lifestyles don’t tie us to a 9 to 5 routine in the office.

However, it’s not as easy as all that. The traditional Parisian café, as Instagram-able as it may be, is not a welcoming environment if you are planning on staying for a couple of hours.

As Kristen (of The Kale Project fame) replied:

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As it happens, just two days ago, I was at ESCP Europe, the oldest business school in the world, to participate in the #MEBconf. I picked up some tips! 🙂

First of all, you should check out what is in your area using the very handy “Coworking Carte” tool. It visualises the dedicated co-working spaces all over France.

Here’s a screen shot of what is available in Paris… all 58 of them – and not one is a traditional or even craft-coffee café which has to turn tables!

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If you’re only here for a short time and/or on a limited budget (aren’t we all!) you probably want a more flexible option rather then renting deskspace. So, here are my top picks for cheap co-working spaces in Paris.

Anticafé

There’s a reason Anticafé is at the top of this list – it is like a café but you pay according to the amount of time rather than the amount of coffee consumed. Tarif is: 4 euros per hour or 16 euros per day and this includes free wifi, unlimited coffee, tea, juice and cake. It’s very informal and friendly. Perfect if you’ve just arrived in Paris because, who knows, you might also get chatting to other like-minded people.

Three locations in Paris:

79 rue Quincampoix, 75003

10 rue du Richelieu, 75001

59 rue Nationale, 75013

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Numa

A great place to meet other like-minded start-ups or freelancers.

Don’t be put off by the fact that Numa also rent out desk space and offer residential programs for start-ups, the café on the ground floor of the rue du Caire location is open to the public, it’s free and you can stay as long as you like.

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Alternatively, for 20 euros a day, you can book your own space on the first floor, which gives you access to several meeting spaces, a printer and even a kitchen if you want to bring in and heat up your own food.

39 rue du Caire, 75002

CoWorkShop

Rather similarly to the Anticafé, the “Nomad” package at CoWorkShop allows you to pay by the hour (4 euros an hour or 20 euros for a day) and get unlimited tea, coffee and high-speed wifi.

29 rue des Vinaigriers, 75010

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Draft

Finally, if you’re on a reeeeally tight budget, you should check out Draft in the 18th. A half-day (4 hours) will only cost you 8 euros – and that includes free tea, coffee and wifi. A day only costs 15 euros… and if you buy a 10 day carnet, it is an absolute steal at only 120 euros.

It’s a bright, light space, with plenty of tables and even a little terrasse. Also on-site, there is a wood and textiles workshop, should you happen to need a laser or 3D printer…

Plus, did I mention that you’re right next door to Bob’s Bake Shop or Les Petites Gouttes – depending on if you’ve had the kind of day which merits a bagel or a cocktail!

12 esplanade Nathalie Sarraute, 75018

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Are you a co-worker in Paris? Where are your favourite places to go?

Please leave your suggestions in the Comments box below.

Useful Resources for Living in Paris

c9e42240Have you always wondered which websites and online resources the French (and in particular, the Parisians) actually use?

Whether you’ve recently moved here or you just feel a little out of touch, here are some tips:

For cheap train tickets, use Ouigo – http://www.ouigo.com/

To find out how bad the traffic is – http://www.sytadin.fr/

For second-hand furniture – http://www.leboncoin.fr/

To make new friends – http://www.meetup.com/

What’s on right now? – http://quefaire.paris.fr/

To find an apartment without going through an agency – http://www.pap.fr/

A guide for getting your head round the bureaucracy – http://next.paris.fr/

Buy your Velib tickets online – http://en.velib.paris.fr/

To find the fastest and/or easiest routes around the city – Citymapper

Also, please remember that should you need to call the emergency services for any medical reasons, in France you call the pompiers (the firefighters) by dialling 18.

For the police, it’s 17.


What have you found useful? Please leave your suggestions and a link in the comments below.

Safety Scouts Advice

One of the positive outcomes of my unfortunate incident with a taxi driver was an introduction to Christopher Gadenne.

He’s a former Parisian police investigator who now dedicates all his free time to helping others. In particular, he’s launched the Safety Scouts YouTube channel to increase victim awareness of common attacks or scams.

Here are some of the videos which apply to the most prevalent tourist scams in Paris. (i.e. the fake “deaf person” petition, the bracelet scam at the bottom of the steps to the Sacre-Coeur and the people who “help” you at the Gare du Nord ticket machines.)

Each of the videos is less than a minute long and they are most definitely worth watching.