Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thursday at 4 o'clock

Getting things done in Paris isn't easy. If you have an important errand to run or someone specific you need to talk to, like your banker or your hairstylist, I have determined that the best time to get these things accomplished is at 4 o'clock on a Thursday.

Due to the restricted work week and the French respect for days of rest, the shop, restaurant or business you are looking to get a hold of could be closed any day between Friday and Tuesday. If they are open Friday and Saturday then they are surely closed Sunday and Monday. However some places are open Saturday and Sunday which means they could be closed Friday an Monday or worse, Monday and Tuesday. These days off are unapologetically scheduled and are hard to predict. Therefore essentially 5 out of 7 days in a week you can easily spend time going someplace only to arrive and have it be closed and all you can say is of course, it's Tuesday. Wednesday can also be problematic. Many young school children have half days on Wednesdays so parents sometimes work from home those days or close up early. So then you are down to one day, Thursday. 

The timing of your call or visit is also very important. The average French work day starts around 10 o'clock. You show up at work, open your computer, have a coffee and a cigarette, visit, then eventually head to your desk for a couple of hours of work. Before you know it it's 1 o'clock and time for lunch. Lunch can last as little as 45 minutes and as much as 120 minutes so no use calling or dropping by during those hours, even if ironically that's when you have time because you are on your lunch break. By 3 o'clock everyone is settled back in to work, shops are open and people are picking up their phones. This window of time lasts until roughly 7 o'clock but after a year of trial and error I am telling you 4 o'clock on Thursdays is the only sure bet.