The Conseil National des Evangéliques de France were holding a training day on French Association Law in Paris, so a couple of us went up from Bordeaux. The morning started at 9:30. At present there is no train from Bordeaux that will get you into Paris on a Saturday for 9:30, so we had to find other ways to do it.
My friend took an overnight bus from Bordeaux, leaving at midnight and arriving in Paris at 7am. This was a very inexpensive option, but it did seem to impact on his attention level during the sessions.
Bordeaux Church was paying for me to go, so I took a train the evening before and stayed in an AirBnB very near where the training day was taking place. My train was the cheapest - I don't know whether I'd necessarily choose that train again: it was the slow train, taking four hours and arriving in Austerlitz, the wrong part of Paris. The train arrived 15 minutes late due to traffic. That's odd, isn't it? Surely rail traffic is all planned our? Anyway, it was just 10 minutes by tube to where I needed to be.
The day began with plenary sessions:
A speech from the government minister for religion, read in his absence.
A word of welcome from the Chairman of the CNEF.
A history of religious freedom in France.
An overview of Association Law.
Then there was a copious lunch - I had a salad starter, roast beef with ratatouille, a pear tart, some stewed fruit, a glass of wine, some water, some bread and a coffee.
Afterwards followed two workshops, the most useful part of the day. I went to the ones on "Responsibilities and Competences of Officials" and on "Best Practice for Associations".
I learnt a lot of useful things, including:
1) When we establish our 1905 Association Cultuelle we need to differentiate it clearly from our existing 1901 Association Culturelle.
2) We can transfer the money our 1901 has to our 1905. (we couldn't do the reverse)
3) Women must have a HIGH degree of holiness. I listened to an introduction that went: "and to respect male female parity we have Madame Machin" and died a little inside. I hope the excellent guy who unfortunately made this slip cringed himself... I hope next time I say something like that that I stop, correct and rebuke myself and apologise right there and then... I hope to cultivate the same degree of holiness and humility as the woman thus introduced, who smiled, laughed and then gave an excellent address.
4) The government doesn't need to know all the ins and outs of your association. All they care about is who's in charge, really.
5) I get terribly stressed about missing trains! French trains are very l-o-n-g and at Montparnasse on the way home there were two long TGVs on the same platform. Mine was the further one, and my carriage near the front. Along with a couple ahead of me we got confused, entered carriage 12, hunted for our seats and didn't find the right numbers. So we got off at the other end, now carriage 11, and went back, this time turning left rather than right, and found our seats straight away. But we did get on some other passangers' nerves - either that or they had had air-brakes installed and needed adjustment. Still.
Arriving back at Bordeaux with 15 minutes delay, I'm not sure why, we were told that the Arcachon train was being held back for us. Now that train stops at Pessac after just 8 minutes journey. The alternative is bus/tram which takes about an hour. I charged for the train and joined the queue of people buying a ticket at the machine.
These machines are really awkward. There's no keyboard, just a roller to select from the 36 types of ticket available and to spell out your destination. Then you stick you card in and hopefully it all works OK. The folk in front of me managed to get their ticket with a bit of cajoling. My turn came. All went well. Very well. Too well. Card in. Code? Correct. Please remove card. Transaction abandoned.
I charged up to the train.
"It didn't work! it said....."
"I'll sell you a ticket then" said the conductor.
Soon I was home and tucked up in bed.
Oh yes, and Paris will always be Paris. I lied.