What do you do when the mayor of Paris invites you to a soiree at the Hotel de Ville?
Well, you go.
A few weeks ago I was surprised to find an elegant envelope in my mailbox. The return address simply said, “the mayor of Paris.”
When I opened it, I found the above invitation. Bertrand Delanoe, Mayor of Paris (and all of these other people) have the pleasure of inviting you to an evening event of the “Paris Business Spirit” network. (That all sounds much better en francais).
At first I didn’t understand why I received this invitation for entreprises.
And then, I remembered: Oh yeah, I’m an entreprise! An entrepreneur!
An autoentrepreneur, to be exact.
The autoentrepreneur status started in 2009 as a way for the French government to encourage more people to create their own business. (You’re probably not shocked to learn that starting a business here involves a lot of work, paper and otherwise.)
The autoentrepreneur regime simplifies the process. (Like *way* simplifies it. Hey, even I could do it!)
Anyway, I always kind of forget that this puts me in the same category in some respects as being a “business.” Because to be clear, I’m an independent person, but “entrepreneur” is not a word I ever applied to myself before. Signing up for this status speaks more to my continuing quest to avoid ever returning to a regular 9-5 if I can help it than it does to my incredible business prowess.
When I realized what the invitation was about I said, ah-ha! Here’s my chance to see rooms inside the Hotel de Ville I’ve never seen before! (The fact that this was my first thought rather than, hey, here’s my chance to network and possibly find some useful resources probably demonstrates my lack of business prowess).
The weather has turned frigid here in Paris, so the idea of privileged access was the only thing that got me out into the cold last night to attend. I’ll take photos, I bargained with myself.
And I did.
After timidly visiting the information tables for half an hour, I was relieved when we were all called into the main salle des fetes for the program to begin.
Four “adjoints” of the mayor with long titles spoke about how great it was that we had all taken the initiative to start our businesses and that all of us, in one way or another, benefitted from the services provided by the city of Paris.
After that, four people got the chance to come on stage, show a video about their project, and then be awkwardly interviewed by the adjoints.
One person started “Marché sur l’Eau” (I quite like that name. If I’ve understood correctly, it can be a play on words. “Market on the Water” but it also sounds like “Walk on Water.”). Anyway, the association distributes fruit and vegetable baskets transported by boat. (Eco!)
Another, Petit Bain, is a concert hall/restaurant/cool place on water. (Again with the agua theme!)
I didn’t catch the names of the others because well…people were talking. While the people chatted on stage, the crowd chatted, too. The acoustics in the hall also weren’t so great. The crowd was told to hush a few times. (Shh! scolded an adjoint into the microphone). I felt like we were at a high school assembly in a palace.
When the presentations ended, the buffet with tasty savory and sweet morsels, plus free-flowing alcohol, opened to the crowd. Unsurprisingly, people descended upon the tables like hawks.
I spent most of the evening people-watching. There were quite a few attractive men in attendance (hey! I’m single and it’s very cold! Who doesn’t like a cuddle?). I put it together: the term “jeunes createurs” kept being bandied about. Yes, here were the ambitious young.
Of course, I barely talked to any of the beautiful people. (“So, I created a floating concert hall, what do you do? Um, I write website copy?”)
I ran into the owner of the dance school where I take classes (random!) And then talked to some guy who did something with cars (also random!). He started talking to me because I was hanging out by the macaron table (um, duh!) and he couldn’t help noticing that I was trying really hard not to dance.
Yep, that’s right.
After the buffet had been open for a little while, they turned on the music. “Move On Up” was the first song. Come on. How can you not move to Motown?
Next up: “You Can’t Hurry Love.”
Next: “Heart of Glass” by Blondie.
No one else seemed to be having this problem, but I find it nearly impossible not to boogie a little when there’s dancey music. Clearly, this was not the venue for that, but I wondered just what the heck was up with that song selection then.
Before my inappropriate dance affliction went any further, I popped one more macaron for the road then took off.
I’d say it was worth braving the sub zero (Celsius) temperatures to attend. N’est-ce pas?
Thanks, Mr. Mayor.
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Website of the Hotel de Ville: http://www.paris.fr/
The Hotel de Ville also plays host to many free exhibitions if you’d like to visit.
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Seriously, how are you *not* supposed to dance to this?
“So what we have to do is move on up
And keep on wishing
Remember your dream
Is your only scheme….”