mercredi, avril 23, 2008

Ticket restaurant

In France, most companies give “ticket restaurant”(lunch tickets) to their workers. However, if a canteen is available in the workplace, the workers will have subsidised lunch. Hence, they won’t have the benefits of ticket restaurant.

Seb’s workplace has a canteen so he does not have the lunch tickets. Depending on luck, it can be a good or bad affair. In his case, the canteen serves lousy food so it is better to have lunch tickets instead of being confined to the canteen for subsidised lunch.

For me, I always have lunch tickets. The lunch ticket is allocated for each working day in the office. If we are on customer’s site or on leave, we would receive a ticket less. Normally, we received a pack of about 20 lunch tickets a month.

These lunch tickets are not free. The government set some guidelines and depending on the company policy, between 40 to 60% of the value of each ticket is absorbed by the company. The value of the ticket varies as well. It can range from 6.10€ to 8.40€. The above figures are based on my experiences and may not be the exact figures. Example: a ticket of 8€. The company contributes 60% and pays 4.80€ for each ticket while the employee pays 3.20€.

In general, we use these lunch tickets during lunch time. We can also use them for dinner. Almost all eateries and restaurants accept lunch tickets. It helps their business as almost every workers eating out are given lunch tickets. At some supermarkets with offices nearby, we can also use lunch tickets to buy microwave food, sandwiches or salads.

Depending on which area of the city you work in, the value of a lunch ticket is usually equivalent to the price of a lunch meal. So, we can always use up the total value of our ticket. Employers are smart enough to give us “just enough” for lunch. However, if we do eat less than the value of our ticket, we can get back credit note. Seldom do eateries give change in cash. This is to ensure that we return to use the credit note and eat at their place. There are of course times when our bill is more than the lunch ticket.

The lunch tickets are transferable. I can give it to a homeless guy along the street or pass it to Seb for his coffee kick at Starbucks. Note: Starbucks do give change instead of credit note.

I hope the above explanation is clear on this little guide about France’s lunch ticket. Any questions?

vendredi, avril 18, 2008

A person’s a person, no matter how small.

Last week, I watched Dr. Seuss Horton Hears a Who!.
I enjoyed the movie. Horton the elephant was sincere and faithful. I wish more people could be like him. When I was young, I read A Cat in the Hat and remembered that I enjoyed the poems that rythmes. Here, just leaving you with what Horton taught us:

A person’s a person, no matter how small.
I meant what I said,
and I said what I meant
An elephant's faithful,
One hundred percent.


lundi, avril 07, 2008

Vélib' - free service bicycles

It has been about a year since the city hall of Paris launched an innovative project, Vélib'. Dotted all over Paris, you will find a row of identical bicycles with a kiosk.

This is how it works. You register yourself at the kiosk. It cost 1€ a day or 29€ for a whole year usage. After that, you choose the bicycle you want; detach it from its stand and ride. The first 30 mins of usage is free. For every extra 30 mins used, an euro or more is charged. The whole idea is not to hog onto the bicycle to visit around Paris on two wheels. The mayor of Paris is encouraging people to cycle in Paris to get from one place to another. If your destination takes more than 30mins, you can dispose the bicycle half way at a station; wait for 15 minutes before getting the bicycle and continue your journey. It is free. For a day usage, you just pay 1€ for as many 30mins ride as you like.
Seb and I finally tried it yesterday. After church, we were supposed to meet Anton at Saint Paul's station for lunch. We decided to walk from Concorde to Saint Paul as we were 45minutes in advance. Taking Metro would take us only 10mins. After 15mins of walk, we realised at the pace we were going, we would be late. It was further than I thought. We passed by a Vélib' station and I suggested to Seb to give it a go. The weather was sunny and it beats taking the underground. We went to the kiosk and using our transport cards, booked ourselves each a bicycle. If you have no transport card, you could use your credit card. This is in case you do not return the bicycle, 150€ will be withdrew.

As it was a Sunday, there were not many cars and it was really nice to cycle in Paris. In 25mins time, we reached Saint Paul's station but we could not parked our bicycles as there was no free stand available. As time was running out, we checked at the kiosk the next nearest Vélib' station and cycled to Pont Marie which was 2 minutes away. Fortunately, there were free stands at that station and we were able to park back our bicycles before the 30 mins run out.

Seb and I agreed that the bicycles were too heavy. Seb found the bicycle too small for him and he was not comfortable on it. But we enjoyed the ride in Paris so much that Seb was thinking of getting a bicycle now. When I spoke with my colleague this morning, he explained to me that we could have registered ourselves at the Saint Paul's station for 15 mins of grace. We could then wait for someone to pick up two bicycles and liberate two stands for us.

The cycling culture in Paris can never be compared with that of Delft, Netherlans. Still, I find that it is a good start to a healthier living and less polluting environment. I leave you with this amazing bicycles park at Delft train station.

vendredi, avril 04, 2008

Bao Bei

Time flies. There are so many cute photos of Bao Bei.
Here, she was 2 months old.
This was the second day she lived with us.
At the age of 7 months, she was sterilised as required in her adoption paper.

Here she was on Seb's leg.
Her favorite position during weekend's afternoons.
Age of four.

mardi, avril 01, 2008

Bao Bei's birthday

It's not an April Fool's day joke though I had already tricked three friends this morning.

It's Bao bei's birthday. She turns four today. We really enjoy her presence with us and love her a lot. She likes to stay in the same room as us. And each evening, she will ask to be cuddled by Seb. Each morning, she will come to me to be cuddled. At night, she sleeps at our feet. She is part of the family.

Back to 1st April, it is really celebrated by the french. In the online papers, false headlines were published. When you clicked on it, it would bring you to a page with a fish. Today is poisson d'avril in french. April Fish. One of my colleagues came to office and checked if anyone sticked a paper fish on her back. My colleague's daughter was asking if she could trick her dad to believe that year 2008 was over. Even an English consultant played a trick on us informing us that there was a need for a major change in our program. He just emailed to tell us it was a joke! Seb did me a little trick too. The day is not over yet. Let me see if I can play a trick on him too. ;)