Today, the whole team had a wonderful day with their first of two trips to the capital of France, Paris. Some were happier than others, as the size of the group meant that coach journeys to the city were staggered, with some students being allowed a lie in, and others getting up at the crack of dawn.
For the first half of the day, the students and their counselors visited the Accenture Innovation lab, found in West Paris near Station F (the famous French startup incubator). Here, they were greeted by the Accenture innovation team, who promptly delivered a presentation on the services they offer to clients. This included an explanation of how the company uses “design learning”, a method of work that involves identifying the problem that needs addressing and working back to find the right solution through trial and error. The counselors hope that this first presentation was both illuminating, with regards to awareness of the role consultants play, and productive in providing another string to the YFCD teams’ bows in anticipation for the many challenges they will be facing next year. The presentation was followed by a tour of the office, in which the Accenture team delighted in blowing away the group with their aesthetically designed working spaces, the cutting-edge technology at their disposal, and the general professionalism behind the operation. When the whole team had finally reconvened in the break room and had had their lunch, the group had the privilege to receive a speech by INSEAD alumnus Bruno Berthon, who gave a wonderfully stimulating speech on the rapidly evolving business world, the need to embrace disruptive technologies for the better, and the brilliance of INSEAD as a source for talent in the eyes of employers. The students were so engaged that the question and answer section lasted just as long as the original speech. The Accenture team can rest assured that a wave of applications will be coming their way, come five years’ time.
As decided before the start of the programme, the students were then split in their tour groups, with some parting ways to begin a “gourmet tour of Paris”, others delighting in a “best of Paris itinerary”, a third group exploring the extremely trendy Le Marais area, and a last team learning about the “dark side of Paris”. This last tour was quite the experience. With a walking tour structure, the students were guided from Notre Dame, across Ile de la Cité, along the Left Bank, through the Louvre, past Les Halles, and finally to their finishing point, a cemetery that was both once the biggest in France and overflowing with dead corpses. The idea of the “Dark Side” tour was to see this very popular area of the City of Lights through the lens of the many horror stories of death, torture and destruction that haunts France’s medieval history. The best of the stories includes a gruesome tale of regicide and torture, ending in a public execution with, a mild suggestion of potential cannibalism, as well as a vivid description of the Frenchs’ need to eat zoo animals and pets as a last resort given the food shortage caused by the Prussian siege on Paris. It was almost worrying how much the students enjoyed it.
The sweet side of Paris tour featured some of Paris´ most loved pastries. The group started with some background on the tribunal and Notre Dame de Paris. They then moved on to tasting sweet foods including macarons from Gerard Mulot, chocolates from Henri le Roux and Patrick Roger, waffles from Méert, choux, and lastly tarte tropézienne. Then the students headed to the Tour Eiffel to be picked up!
The Best of Paris Tour took the students past some of Paris’ most famous sites. Notre Dame de Paris, the Louvre and the Eiffel tower were just some of the highlights of the tour. Along the way our tour guides entertained us with interesting facts and anecdotes about the various sites the students passed, making the tour fun and engaging for all of the participants!
The Marais tour started from the cityhall of Paris, Hôtel de Ville and headed straight to the heart of the jewish quarter. The students learned a lot about the history of Le Marais and how this swamp in the middle of France was transformed to one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Little known fact the word “Le Marais” actually stands for the swamp.
Finally, more tired than anticipated, the students and the counseling team made their way back to the Fontainebleau INSEAD campus. The bright side of the fatigue was a number of funny photos of the tefam sleeping on the coach, but unfortunately it also meant postponing that evening’s quiz to tomorrow night, by which time everyone will feel in livelier spirits. It is, however, funny how things change. An hour after arrival at the camp, once everyone had had their dinner, their appeared to be a revitalisation of the campus, with volleyball, ping pong, and football matches breaking out across the outdoors. Needless to say, it has yet again been a very full day, that everyone has yet again taken full advantage of. Back at it tomorrow!