Grande Arche de la Defense

Thursday - March 7, 2002

The first day of the conference went by very quickly. It was the Synopsys user group conference, an annual meeting of chip design engineers who use our products. Right away, I noticed that European engineers have considerably more social skills than their U.S. counterparts. I spent the whole day chatting with people from al over Europe. Before I knew it, the day was over, and we were off to the evening event.

What an amazing experience. The evening parties in America are nothing like the ones in Europe. We were shuttled to the outskirts of Paris to the Pavilions de Bercy, an old hall decorated as a 19th century carnival house . Before dinner, we had cocktails and played authentic antique carnival games. Around us, stiltwalkers and magicians strolled about. Some of the performers were very odd, but enchanting.

We adjourned to the dining hall for our four-course dinner. The meal began with a parade of waiters, circling the room before pouring our first wine, a Bordeaux. The first course was a delicate lobster cannelloni, then the show began. A juggler performed for a while, followed by a woman on the flying trapeze who flew over heads. The engineers were mesmerized.

The main course was a delicious roasted chicken in tarragon sauce, accompanied by white wine and plenty of wonderful fresh bread. Following the entree was more entertainment, an acrobat who amazed again and again with his balancing act.

The French customarily have a cheese course before dessert. We were presented with a platter of cheeses to choose from, along with walnut bread and a balsamic vinaigrette salad. Then it was showtime again, and the grand finale was a Cirque du Soleil-style acrobat. She twirled high above us supported only by two long sheer scarves. The room was captivated.

The dessert course was a fruit sorbet, and then we returned to the carnival hall for after dinner drinks and more games. They also had a cotton candy stand and a chef cooking fresh hot crepes, drenched in chocolate. We took the last bus back, empty except for four of us, and then had a night cap at the James Joyce before calling it a night. next>>

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