Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Monday, May 29, 2017

4DX Movie Experience

This past weekend, C and I headed over to La Villette for two firsts.  One, our first picnic of the year by the canal, and two, our first time experiencing a 4DX movie theater.  If you haven't heard of it yet, 4DX is basically an enhanced theater, and France only currently has one.  Along with 3D and surround sound, 4DX theaters boast seats that move, blast air and have smell-o-vision.  Here's a trailer that's currently playing in French movie theaters to promote it:

I think it's pretty much mandatory that you see an action movie in order to take full advantage of everything the 4DX cinema has to offer, so we decided to see Pirates of the Caribbean in VO. The inside of the theater reminded me a bit of the rides at Disney that require a movie screen.  They were large, had foot rests and a protective bar in front.  There was also a small button on each one to choose if you wanted water or not:
I initially had it on, but ended up turning it off half-way through the film because who wants water spraying on their 3D glasses all the time?!

So what did we think? On a scale from 1 to 10, I'd say 6.5.  The timed seat movements were cool, but it did bother me a bit that they moved for both the antagonists and the protagonists.  I suppose they were just trying to give people their money's worth, but it was a little bit distracting to have the seat move for everyone, and not just from one person's point of view for example.  Two other things I wasn't a big fan of was sometimes it would poke you in the back to simulate movement behind you, but in reality, it really just felt like you had a kid behind you kicking your seat.  And secondly, the chair movement reminded me a little bit too much of airplane turbulence, and I kind of get enough of that when I fly.

There were also times where lights would turn on behind us to simulate lightning or explosions, but it wasn't that well done - it mostly seemed like someone was just turning on the lights during the middle of the movie and it was distracting more than anything else.  And the smell-o-vision was pretty limited - I think I only smelled something twice during the whole movie.  There were a few times where I thought it could have really made an impact and added to the movie - like a saltwater smell, or when a ship was burning or someone was cooking - but they didn't really take advantage of that at all.

The one thing I really did like though was the air movement.  Bullets whizzing by, etc didn't really feel realistic, but they did a great job at making us feel like we were really on a boat at sea with the wind in our hair, and since I love being on the water, this was one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. 

Besides all of that, the other bit of frustration I had was the price. I have the Gaumont movie pass, which is supposed to give me unlimited movie access, but I still had to pay 6€ extra to see this.  That's not such a big deal, but I also had a free movie pass that I was hoping to use for C's ticket.  After spending a frustrating 30 minutes trying to reserve online and finally contacting Gaumont via social media, I found out free & reduced-price tickets couldn't be used for 4DX films.  That meant I had to pay the full-price of 20€ for C's ticket + 6€ for my own - so it ended up being an expensive night when I was initially expecting to pay 0€.

So is it worth it?  Given the price....I'd say it's worth trying once or twice, but I likely won't be making it a habit. I imagine it would be a really fun activity to do as a family (though FYI, there are height requirements), and C & I both agreed that an intergalatic-themed movie would also be fun to see. I normally don't like sitting in the front row, but I would definitely recommend it for this type of theater.  It makes the movie seem more realistic since you don't have anyone sitting in front of you.

Lastly, on a side note - the mall where the theater is located was surprisingly nice for the neighborhood.  It looked like an upscale American mall, with tons of cute boutique shops and American-style restaurants.  There was a burrito place, a juice bar, an Asian Fusion restaurant, a cute pub, etc, and I would definitely recommend checking out the shops if you are looking to purchase some unique France-themed gifts.  There was also an anti-gravity flying pod that looked fun too.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bilan de santé

About a month ago, I was poking around the French healthcare website to see if I could find a new dentist in our neighborhood.  (Our beloved dentist who did American-style dental cleanings up and disappeared into thin air about a year and a half ago.).  

I didn't end up finding a dentist nearby, but I did come across an article saying anyone who is insured in Ile de France has the right to have a free health check-up every five years.  Considering that I haven't had a check-up in probably 20 years, I figured now was as good as a time as any.  There was a short online form to fill out (here) and then a week later I received a convocation with a date/time at my closest center.

They had booked me in for 1:30pm, which initially seemed fine until I noticed I had to be à jeun* until that time for the blood draw.   Not eating anything and drinking only black coffee until after lunch did not seem to be the smartest idea, especially since I work out at noon, so I called back to see if I could reschedule. It took a while, and involved several emails and phone calls, but I finally got through and was able to set up another appointment for today.

Depending on your age, the check-up covers a meeting with a general practitioner, blood & urine sample analysis, dental exam, eye exam and electrocardiogram, and is supposed to last 2.5 hours.  If they find something urgently wrong, they will call you at 4:30pm the same day to inform you; otherwise you will receive your results 3-4 weeks later by mail.  (It's now 5pm here btw, so whew - no scary illnesses to report!)

So was it worth my time (and yours)?  I'd lean towards no.  The Dr's visit was short and extremely generic and the dental exam was also lightning speed and did not include a cleaning.  I was also disappointed they didn't do a frottis or a breast exam (though a mammogram might have be included if you are over 60).  It was kind of interesting to do the electrocardiogram though, but given all of the rest of your stuff can be prescribed by your  regular doctor for testing at your local laboratory, I don't think it's really worth 2.5 hours of  one's life.

The medical practitioners were all extremely friendly though, and even more so when it came out that I was American.  Though to be honest, given the population of people who were there (mainly homeless, I believe), they could have just been happy to have someone who was clean, sober and in generally good health.  

I did get scolded for not having seen a dentist recently though, so if anyone has a good, reasonably-priced dentist they can recommend in central Paris, please let me know! 

*They do give you a cookie and an applesauce after the blood draw, and at least at my health center, there was a coffee machine and a vending machine in the waiting room.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Here, there and everywhere

I'm coming up on another crazy travel spree.  I'll spend Thursday & Friday of this week in Norway, be home Saturday and then leave early Sunday AM for South Africa. I'll get back the following Saturday and then turn around less than 24 hours later to hop another flight for a week in China. 

To be honest, I was hesitating about both the Norway and South Africa trips - given the dates, I won't really have any time to do any sightseeing, so I was waffling about whether or not I should accept.  In the end, I said yes to help out a colleague in both instances and to be able to scratch another country off of my travel map.  But what do you think?  Is it worth it?  Would you go?

I'm also slightly nervous about doing so many back-to-back 12+ hour flights.  I get paranoid about getting blood clots given all the flying I do....but I wear compression socks on long-haul flights and I  guess flight attendants are in the air even more than I am and they are fine.   Plus I'll be in the US for most of June with a jam-packed itinerary of baptisms, weddings, birthdays, work events, leadership retreats, etc, so it's true that the extra frequent flier miles will come in handy in ferrying C around the country and to and from France. 

The upcoming travel means I'll be missing out on the French presidential elections though, so I went to the police station yesterday to fill out my procuration form so that C can vote for me.  It was a relatively easy process, just a short form to fill out and then I was given a receipt for C to show.  I'll land Sunday evening around 9:30pm French time in Johannesburg, so you can bet I'll be turning my phone on immediately to check the results.