Friday, May 28
We arrived in Paris by Chunnel at the Gare Du Nord and took the coach to our hotel, Hotel Opera Cadet on Thursday evening.
The next day, Friday, we visited the France Télécom, a.k.a. Orange, and the Pasteur Institute. France Télécom is the main telecommunications company of France, much like AT&T is of the U.S. They provide landline service, mobile phone service, internet, and broadband services. We visited their headquarters in Paris, a central hub of digital information in France and Europe.
Our France Télécom tour guide could not speak fluent English, so he was assisted by an employee who spoke both French and English. The tour guide brought us through the facilities. As the discussions became more and more technical, the translations became more and more difficult. The tour guide would give a long speech in French, pointing and gesturing as we stared blankly. At the end of the speech, the flustered translator would simply paraphrase with something along the lines of, "There are eight nodes."
From what I could grasp, a majority of the facility space consisted of power and cooling systems that maintained the telecommunications systems in a suitable environment. With a hub as important as the France Télécom headquarters, there is always a lot of redundancy, backup power, temperature control, and of course security. It seemed as if every door of every room and hallway required some sort of secure access. Not pictured are the very high speed routers.
The source of the countless photos is Matt Hedlund, the genius responsible for many of the higher quality images. My contribution to this blog is nothing more than to steal his camera and upload his photos.
The France Télécom was followed by lecture tours of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The institute was named after Louis Pasteur, a famous chemist who created the first rabies vaccine and invented pasteurization. The key tool of the institute was the microscope, for there was at least one in almost every lab. However, the lab spaces were extremely cramped because real estate in Paris is precious.
From the labs we were taken to the Pasteur Museum, Pasteur's preserved apartment, and then to Pasteur's crypt.
That concludes the first technical visit in Paris.