Bonjour Paris – Another Year Has Passed

Written by admin on February 1, 2010 – 12:13 pm -

As I sit down to write the annual Bonjour Paris year-end letter, I realize I’m not quite certain how many have been written. It’s either the 14th or 15th. I’ve lost count, since we first launched as Keyword: Paris on the travel channel of America Online. How times have changed.

Those of us who worked on Bonjour Paris were initially condemned to connect via a 14.4K dial-up modem. In France, it was always hit or miss and rarely on the first try. There were at least five AOL numbers in Paris, and the modem would rotate from one to the next until there was something other than the damn busy signal. The “You’ve got mail” message signaled success.

The France Telecom phone bill would arrive, and there would be pages and pages listing each connection attempt. And then there’d be a notation of many French francs. Since the site had many people working on it, the phone bills at the end of the month would be staggering. Mine was over $1,000 because FT charged by the minute. Talk about sticker shock, but it was the cost of doing business.

Connecting to the Internet was the ultimate luxury. If it were a question of sending emails, you’d compose them first and send them all at once and download any ones you’d received. Then you’d answer them off-line because you could hear your phone bill’s meter edging up, or in my case, skyrocketing. Those were the days of chats, with me, living in the wrong time zone, getting up at 5:00 a.m. Paris time to be online until 7 a.m. (9-11 p.m. ET).

The concept of staying connected 24 hours a day was unfathomable for neophytes. Skip the idea of IP phones, Skype and on-line meetings where people can be anywhere in the world. Who imagined many of us would be living a large portion of our lives on-line? The recently released movie Up in the Air that stars George Clooney would have been considered fantasy. Who could possibly fire people via video conferencing rather than in person? It happens—but it’s not the way George Clooney opts to do it as he lives out of a suitcase taking short-haul flights within the US collecting American Airlines frequent flyer miles.

Today’s college students probably have no concept of dial-up modems. The French have become incredibly adept at IT technology. There’s even a T1 cable in my apartment building, which was constructed in 1887. Considering how the French swore the Internet would never catch on, they’ve come a long way since the Minitel.

The year 2009 has been another landmark in how people communicate. Many people and companies have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Bonjour Paris has launched both, and we realize it’s the new way of establishing a community. The number of Bonjour Paris Facebook Fans has been growing, and we’re delighted to have yet another way to keep in contact. On Twitter, we’re @Bonjour Paris, and realize this social medium is an art and a science.

What we’ve realized is we’re changing with the times. Our site has always been a work in progress, and we hope to make some significant enhancements in the upcoming year. There will undoubtedly be some changes some might not love. We will be doing more social networking and would appreciate your spreading the Bonjour Paris word. As always, we’d like to have our readers’ input, so please feel free to send me an email with your suggestions.

It’s a new era and we’re listening. In the meantime, the Bonjour Paris staff wishes everyone the happiest, healthiest and most peaceful New Year with nothing but love and joy. Our family may be changing, but we’re a family of readers, of writers and of so many people who contribute their time. Thank you (or more correctly, merci) to each one of you.


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