View From a Hotel Window, 10/31/18: Nantes, France
Posted on October 31, 2018 Posted by John Scalzi 17 Comments
My view is of the front of the convention center where the Utopiales festival is happening. It’s like a ten-second commute from my hotel to the event space, which I appreciate.
I am currently on about one hour of sleep for the last 30. I’m a little loopy.
Also, my AC adapter here turns out to be completely useless, so I borrowed an AC adapter from the hotel, which only has USB connectors, not great for my laptop. Remember how I said not to expect too many updates here while I was in France? Yeah, that.
Aside from being tired and AC-challenged, I’m having a lovely time in France so far. People are lovely, which is not a surprise. They’re all apologizing for having poor English skills. I remind them that their English is far and away better than my French.
“They’re all apologizing for having poor English skills.”
Of course! The French have no word for chauvinism.
John, your ‘Prix Bob-Morane’ is an award named after a long running French fictional ‘adventure’ character. Previous winners in the ‘roman traduit’ – ‘foreign language’ – category include Anne Leckie and Neil Gaiman.
(Not sure how well wikipedia works over there, so looked it up. Translation errors all mine.)
I always think of the Wonder Years when I try to speak French. “Voulez-vous du beurre?”
The sad part about my lack of French speaking skills is that I grew up 20 miles south of the Quebec border.
I found the French, including Parisians, to be very pleasant.
Oh, hey, I recognize that convention center. I got to go there some years ago for a conference for work. (Every few years, the American planetary science community and the European planetary science community host a joint meeting, alternating on which side of the Atlantic it’s on. Last time Europe hosted, it was in Nantes.)
I was pleased with how nice everyone in Nantes was about the fact I know very little French, and that generally the hotel I stayed at was set up assuming that you spoke at least one common European language even if you knew very little French. (I am a native English speaker, but my Spanish is passable enough for travel if you speak slowly.)
40 years ago I lived in Paris for a month. I met Lawrence Durrell in an autograph line at a bookstore. Our conversation: Him: ça va? Me: ça va.
I also do not speak French.
If you’re traveling to Europe it helps to bring one of these doohickeys: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/samsonite-converter-adapter-kit-red-black/9419572.p?skuId=9419572
If you look closely at the extremely fine print on your AC adapter and you see input: 120/240V AC, then you only need a prong converter (leftmost doohickey in Pianoman’s link) so it will plug directly in a French socket. They probably also have these at the hotel lobby. This is what we used last time we were in Paris and it worked well for the phone and laptop. If the adapter is rated for only 120V, then you will absolutely need the 240V->120V downconverter as well (bulkiest doohickey on the photo).
Be sure to have some pie. I’m sure the French make some good ones.
Bob Morane is kind of our Indiana Jones, except he was created in the 1950es & has since been the hero of more than 100 books (I think) and comic books. The franchise has been taken over and is still active. Initially it was kind of spy-and-warrior adventures in exotic places in Asia, but it rapidly took some kind of sci-fi dimension.
& to see and hear what Bob Morane meant to us teenagers in the 80ies – look up on youtube:
Aieee! Scariest Halloween story ever!
May your connectors all work perfectly in 2019, and may your chargers never be lost.
Well, I see the rocket powered mushroom robot but I still don’t know what the hell it is.
What PetitChanteur said, above. There is a very good chance your current laptop power supply can handle 240V, if you can overcome the outlet shape problem (and if it can, it will be labeled to tell you so).
And if the hotel inexplicably doesn’t have outlet prong adaptors, they cost only a few bucks and it’s likely you can find someone with an extra one who can loan or give it to you.
Ooh, Nantes is nice. If you’re not too knackered and you have some time, Les Machines De l’ile, just south of the city, is excellent. As for language, I have spoken some very bad French on holiday, and they have always been very tolerant of my efforts, and replied in excellent English.
Seconding Warren Terra and PetitChanteur: It’s been many years since I’ve seen a portable power supply that was not dual-voltage capable.
[The last one was for my son’s Nintendo DS about 8 years ago; even then I was shocked that it “self-destructed”.]
As a worst-case fail-safe, many European hotels have a ‘shaver’ outlet with 120V and a US-standard plug. Whilst you couldn’t plug a hair-dryer*, a laptop should not be a concern.
Enjoyez votre visite,
* … and we all know how you travel with a variety of hair dryers to manage your various tonsorial needs.
One john goes to france and the other to Jamaica.
You talk slightly quicker than the average English speaker. Please check with your audience if you are going to fast for the non native speakers to keep up.
Will you have a translator at the panel discussions?