My Canteen’s Better Than Your Canteen

My first week on the new job passed in a bit of a blur. The role is English-speaking (it’s a very multi-national office) which made it an easier adjustment than it might otherwise have been, though a large proportion of the employees are French. This is pretty much ideal for me, giving the much-wanted opportunity to practice and improve my French-speaking abilities whilst ensuring that I am also actually clear on the work that I’m supposed to be doing. Always helpful.

About half way through my first day, I realized (with the sort of audible gasp usually reserved for fiction) that, right in the middle of the view through the very large window next to my desk, the Eiffel Tower is just – there. I felt as if I should have known this would be the case – almost as if they would have included it in the job description, somewhere between the holiday allowance and the canteen subsidy – but of course they hadn’t and three months into the job, I’m still enjoying the novelty of this unmistakably ‘Paris’ view on a daily basis.

The other serious perk of this office is the canteen. This is dismissed by most of my non-British colleagues as being a very standard affair but, much like my desk view, I am still getting excited about this on a daily basis. Perhaps slightly disproportionately, but that’s generally the case with me and food. Especially French food.

The canteen is not remotely what my fellow Brits might expect of that term. ‘Restaurant’ might conjure a better impression of the quality and variety of dishes available. Although a restaurant doesn’t change its offerings on a daily basis.

Since I’ve been here, some of the meals I have had have included confit de canard; roasted rabbit; moules marinieres; fresh salmon fillet; and a ham, emmental & mushroom galette, made expertly in front of my eyes whilst I waited. There is an abundance of side dishes and desserts on offer; a very large salad bar; and drinks include small bottles of wine and beer. I never actually have the wine or beer, but I enjoy knowing I could, if I wanted to (/wouldn’t subsequently doze off at my desk).

There is also always a steaming vat of fresh homemade soup, which I try to opt for more often than some of the more exciting (but less healthy) options and it is (almost) always delicious, especially accompanied by fresh baguette and whatever selection of French cheeses are on offer on any given day. Of course, the bread is free; an unlimited supply of baguette at all meals is pretty much a human right in this country.

Actually, sometimes, my whole meal is free. Yep, you heard me. 0€. Thanks to that aforementioned canteen subsidy, I pay under 1€ on the majority of days. An extravagant meal might cost around 1.40€. Once I went just over the 2€ mark – just. As a self-proclaimed money-saving expert and hardcore yellow label hunter (always do your groceries after 7pm), this makes me almost as happy as the food itself.

Oh, I’m a Paralegal by the way. Probably should have mentioned that sooner.

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