Nancy by Day

2007-12-03

Talk over; it went okay, I think, and I got a reasonable number of questions about some of my more provocative points, which is nice. I think that the talk itself could have done with a more clearly demarcated set of conclusions than it had; it needed a little more work and thought, but I just haven’t had the time recently to do it.

Afterwards, I went to the workshop on accessibility. It was interesting, although it reminded a little of the microarray section of ISMB a few years ago; everyone was comparing their system to the gold standard (a system someone else came up with a few years previously). Unfortunately, I was too tired to pay real attention, so I left after the coffee break, and walked a few kilometres back to the hotel, in need of fresh air.

Nancy turns out to be a pleasant place, unrelated to the rain-sodden, weeping moorland that it was last night. Most of the city is tenement blocks; it reminds me of Edinburgh although with surfaced walls, rather than the granite hardness of Edinburgh’s stones. The city is currently dripping with lights — testimony to the festival of St. Nicholas that has just gone, rather than Christmas per se. Unlike Newcastle, these are not confined to a few streets in the centre but are everywhere; if someone pulled the plug on main street lights, the whole city would still glow. It’s quiet here at night, although perhaps that is just monday.

We reached INRA and the University by tram (actually a trolley-bus, with a guide rail most of the way) reasonably efficiently although they had suffered a breakdown that morning. The campus is strange — the architect clearly has a pathological hatred of right angles, circular buildings surrounded by curving roads.

The food has been, how should I put it, equivocal so far. I knew I was in for a veggie disaster at the restaurant last night, as the waiter uncovered my dish, with a flourish and a "Voila!" to reveal a plate of boiled vegetables. Meat course, without the meat. Lunch today was similar (the lentil salad, sneakily, included beef). Despite this, it’s clear that general standard of food has been good; lunch was three courses, with wine; coffee came with a small cake or croissant, was strong, pleasant and in small cups; enough to stimulate without concomitant bladder problems. I won’t criticise the cooks for not catering for hippie veggies given that they cook well for others.

Tonight, though, I went for the inevitable Italian meal. "Vegetarian pizza" said the waitress (en Anglais) "with red wine", with just enough of a hint of derision to make me feel warm and in France.

Originally published on my old blog site.