a dip in the River Seine on a Sunday morning or the Paris Triathlon




I started my triathlon race from Trocadéro…as I missed my wakeup call at 6AM. Actually I did not really miss it, I was too petrified to get up! I realized the day of the triathlon how much was involved and I would have rather stayed in bed and enjoy a  leisury breakfast with croissants and fresh orange juice. Instead I wolfed down a banana and a dreadful sort of energetic muesli.

So, as it stands, I was the last one in the bike park, frantically trying to get my shoes in the right order (so I would not run with my bike shoes and vice versa!) with the judges shouting after me to get the hell out towards the river Seine…nice way to get motivated for a very long swim in the river Seine I’d say…

Anyway, I galloped bare feet with my wet suit, glasses and the white triathlon  cap towards the departure, 1.5 k away towards the triathletes. Luckily I found a nice chap to chatter with along the way (funny how chatting about anything does calm my nerves J) and here we were, all gathered around a plastic sort of bridge enabling us to jump in a dark grey river. Loads of athletic looking men, which should have been my dream in a normal environment, but made me really scared at that moment. Where were the ladies??? Mind you I found out afterwards that they were only 135 triathlete ladies out of 2346 competitors at this event.

So here we were jumping in groups (I even wondered if someone one was going to jump on top of me!).The start of the race happened so quickly (I guess the judge wanted to get on time for a nice Sunday lunch) that I did not have time to realize what was happening. Forgot to say that, like most triathlete, swimming is not my best discipline. I endeavoured to learn to swim free style but as I found out, one more time, practicing freestyle with 1500 other swimmers going like crazy, is not the best. So I calmed down, tried to get my head above water, and went for it. It felt like salmons going upstream. People going past, arms, legs everywhere. I was saved by Carol, one of my Expatriés triathlon buddy, who enticed me to start freestyling  without panicking. So off we went, bridge after bridge, the Eiffel Tower disappearing and reappearing every single time.

Finally they appeared… the nice metal steps leading out of the metal looking waters…going out make you feel like you are drunk : no leg power left . From the effort of course! The cheer leaders made my day, as well as the automatic showers. I feel like in the Alien movie! Getting out of the inferno, back to the normal world.

Then Galloping again, still bare feet with the wet suit dangling, I reached my Porsche bike (It goes very fast indeed, superb piece of equipment) and tried to figure out how to get rid of the  wet suit the fastest way without falling all over. Luckily the judge (must have been the one shouting at me at 7.30 in the morning) gave me a tip: walk on the wet suit with the other foot. So my brain finally agreed to kick in and here I was, jumping in my bike shoes, grabbing the Porsche and running as fast as possible towards the start line.

40 kms on the bike is, in fact the best part of the triathlon. This year I have learned a new trick: drafting (thank youuu so much Bob J).  So I found a nice competitor going a bit faster than me and…became his shadow. We ended up going as fast as the wind (well…for me anyway !) and in a group of four bikers. It felt good, especially for me as I was behind most of the time (French men do not like a lady in front…suited me fine in this instance)

Back to bike park for the last transition after 1h17 of flying in my Porsche. Pompom girls cheered me again, it felt good!

Jumped in my running shoes (good job for the triathlon laces, all elastic and no laces to tie, my brain would not cope!) and now  the worst feeling to come : the 10K race! My legs feel like they refuse to obey, my calves are so tense it feels like I have no power and I am running on springs!

But that is where the motivation kicks in I guess. I just carry on, God only knows why! After a stop at the bar (glasses of water on a table that is!) I start running the hill towards Trocadero and the same happens again: I saw the sign 6 k and assume that perhaps I have run so fast there is a possibility of having already reached 6k. However I knew that I am not exhausted enough to have reached this distance!

The run is hard but all the contestants stick together, cheering each other and enticing the one that start walking to run again. So I join in and make sure a chap starts running, until I realize that he is on his second round and I have one more round to go! Luckily the runner explains that the second round is easier (oh yeah…and pigs will fly!)

In fact he is absolutely right. I guess after the first half of the run, I coaxed myself in realizing that I have less than half an hour of effort and then I’ll feel like the world champion. However k 8 feels like it’s never going to end, I’ll never make it bladibla…and it’s the finishing line appearing! I always sprint like a crazy lady; I just want it to end.

So that’s it!  The very best feeling is giving my foot to the person collecting the electronic chips! Then I stew for a while in my wet sweaty trisuit but also relish every second of this feeling: I have done it again and yes I am a champion! J)It does not last for very long though….but it is worth all the training achieved, the stress I went through (will I achieve a better timing this year? Yes I did. Will I not drink too much water from the Seine River?? No I did not.

Just one question: Why do they call this Paris triathlon short distance….??? Bloody long one if you want my opinion

English humour vs. French humour

During these bleak times, through the recession and dark longish  nights…I thought I might cheer you up with a bit of lightness and…humour….

Humour is by definition an Anglo-Saxon concept i.e. the equivalent in French would be “esprit”, farce (prank) and humeur (a state of mind, or mood), but not humour. Only in 1932 did the French Academicians give their approval to the noun “humour”!!! (Economist 18/12/2003)

As quoted in the movie Ridicule by Patrice Leconte: “the French have jokes but do they have a sense of Humour ?”…

I asked a Brit living in France what she thought about French humour and her answer was: “only a couple of words..!!”…typically British dry reply I assume..!

French esprit is unique in the sense that it can be described by the Anglo-Saxon as ‘Grinçant’ a concept typically French where the object of the humour is usually somebody else …(cf le diner de cons). The main aim of la “derision” consisting of mocking someone else’s weak point or naïve attitude.

Where British humour has a lot to do with self derision – which is perceived as demonstrating low self-esteem in France. However I’d like to point out that when one does mock oneself it does avoid others mocking him or her …!!! One can therefore set the limit to the extent of self derision which they are prepared to reach…

French humour is usually under the belt and fairly straightforward known as “l’esprit Gaulois” It is a licentious humour one would describe as visual and according to David Trotter in l’Esprit Gaulois: Humour and national Mythologie “a form of coarse humour characteristic of the lower orders of society, and thus inevitably concerned with the baser instincts”. My own perception of French Gaulois humour is that it can be as naughty as English humour, the only difference being…in the way it is laid out!!! (er…so to speak!!!)

French version is usually quite literal (we call a spade a spade!!) and situation based (cf all Feydeau plays based on a “quiproquo” ie situations being mixed up, the lover being taken for the husband and the servant for the mistress etc… Whether British humour possess (equivalent) several levels  : the first level which is quite literal, second level usually a bit more complex to understand …however…fairly naughty and finally a last level that one would not dare even think about…as it is far too shocking…!!! But everybody…eventually… works it out !

Contrepétrie is another form of French humour: where one changes one letter for another and it becomes fairly salacious…; the fun part being creating “contrepétries”: ie mixing letters so it becomes witty. Making an innocent remark such as: “nous avons convenu de la date…”if you reverse the C for the D, then things becomes somehow… more interesting!

The goal of the contrepétrie game is to banter with colleagues or friends without the audience understanding how cheeky the sentence can really be…in this sense this form of humour is similar to Cockney slang i.e in the way it is structured…by association of ideas.

English humour is somehow more subtle: it comes at several levels and in different shapes.

For example Pantomimes at Christmas times are one of my favourite entertainments ever… as I come from another culture… it becomes the d challenge of a few days to fully understand the different messages delivered…hence making my enjoyment bigger when I finally get it !.

Traditionally performed at Christmas, with family audiences consisting mainly of children and parents, British pantomime is now a popular form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, audience participation, and mild sexual innuendo. There are a number of traditional story-lines, and there is also a fairly well-defined set of performance conventions. Lists of these items follow, along with a special discussion of the ‘guest celebrity’ tradition, which emerged in the late 19th century. Panto story lines and scripts typically make no reference to Christmas, and are almost always based on traditional children stories, including several written or popularized by the French pioneer of the ‘fairy tale’ genre, Charles Perrault. Plot lines are often ‘adapted’ for comic or satirical effects, and certain familiar scenes tend to recur, regardless of plot relevance. (Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia)

The first level of the humour developed in the panto is for the children and the more subtle one is usually salacious …geared to the adult’s tastes.

Potter called humour an “English inherent reaction” and considered this as one of the pillars of the English society. It was cherished by the upper social class but has now spread to the whole society.

It tends to analyse a given situation and extract the most absurd sides in order to highlight the ridicule of the situation. This allows the person to distance him or herself from the situation, thus enabling them, in some cases, to take an objective decision. This nonsense approach forms the art of developing absurd ways of thinking based on a logical approach!!! Absolutely fantastic for imaginative personalities as it brings one to unkown territories of fantasy …one can banter indefinitely …

To summarize : English humour or French esprit?? Of course I will give you a twisted answer as I believe both have their defined role to play in their given culture. According to Pierre Desproges in Les étrangers “ Comment reconnaitre l’humour anglais de l’humour français ? l’humour anglais souligne avec amertume et désespoir l’absurdité du monde. L’humour français se rit de ma belle-mère ».

My personal choice would go for English humour with a French je ne sais quoi …! and I do not hesitate to use humour in large doses during my training sessions and in my coaching practice when I need my client to relax slightly before starting the hard work !

To be or not to be a coach??

To be or not to be a coach??

Lorsque l’on me demande quel est mon métier, je réponds toujours après un long moment d’hésitation et du bout des lèvres : coach…en attendant la réaction qui suit immédiatement : « pff de nos jours, me répond-t-on on est coach pour tout et n’importe quoi !!! »

Pour parer à cette attaque, j’ai appliqué plusieurs techniques :

L’humour : je suis quooackkk : la réaction… est celle de l’incompréhension.

L’intellectualisation du concept : j’accompagne le changement… moi-même je m’y perds avec ces deux concepts. Comment peut-on accompagner un changement, alors que la nature du changement est justement de ne pas connaitre la destination?

L’approche pragmatique : je suis un outil d’accompagnement pour vous aider à atteindre vos objectifs…la dernière personne à qui je l’ai déclamé a vite fait de tourner les talons !!!

Alors, alors ??? Que dire et surtout qu’ont en commun tous ces coachs, coac,quack ???

Les dénominateurs communs semblent être à mes yeux, une très grande bienveillance, une paix intérieure et de fantastiques qualités d’écoute, tout cela allié à une grande technique! En outre le principe commun à cette profession, si l’on devait en nommer un, est la question qui commence invariablement ainsi :

–          Comment…pour quelle raison…. ???

Montrez-moi un coach qui n’a jamais posé cette question et je vous répondrai qu’il ou elle n’exerce pas la profession.

La bienveillance provient de la profonde conviction et du respect du monde de l’autre, en particulier de ses valeurs et de ses croyances. Une grande humilité dans l’approche des rapports à l’autre va de pair avec la confidentialité qui doit être respectée.

Les qualités d’écoute sont extrêmement développées sur plusieurs niveaux :

De l’écoute latente, à la perception de la gestuelle, en passant par l’analyse de la sémantique du langage du coaché.

Enfin le questionnement est la capacité sans cesse renouvelée, de s’émerveiller et d’aider le coaché, par le biais de reformulations et de questions précises, à avancer dans son cheminement intérieur et à identifier ses propres ressources.

Enfin la démarche du coach va vers l’avenir, et est donc intrinsèquement positive, elle ne juge pas, et est pragmatique. Le respect de la vitesse de progression du coaché est essentielle.

La ‘ pratique du coaching se matérialise par des gestes précis qui visent à produire des états mentaux ou des réaction du coaché ‘ ( Michael Pichat – dec 09 – désu Paris 8). En d’autres termes les sessions de coaching sont structurées et possèdent un fort contenu technique, le coach possédant toute une trousse d’outils plus ou moins développée en fonction de son expérience, découlant de théories comme la systémique, l’analyse transactionnelle, la programmation neuro linguistique et bien d’autres encore.

Je m’interroge : comment reconnait-on un bon coach ? Une possibilité de réponse m’a été transmise par mon amie M.R Jolivet, coach de son état : » l’art du coaching c’est l’art de poser la bonne question, au bon moment, qui permet de considérer sa perception d’une réalité sous un autre angle. Un bon coach posera une question pertinente, et ira au-delà sans juger.

Une autre possibilité de réponse est la suivante : le bon coach est celui qui  définit des résultats, et qui les fait atteindre par le coaché. En sus je préciserai : » et qui a coconstruit avec le coaché des résultats. Après les avoir obtenus, en obtient d’autres, latents, qui avaient été exprimés par le coaché. D’ailleurs le fameux ‘contrat de coaching’ existe pour justifier les résultats.

En quelque sorte le coaching est l’énergie du désir, et le rôle du coach est de mettre en autonomie ou d’aligner son client sur la trajectoire que celui-ci s’est dessinée.

La grande différence avec le métier de psychothérapeute est que le coach étudiera la situation actuelle et la situation désirée, il aidera son client à identifier ses ressources afin d’atteindre la situation choisie, ce, en validant les acquis personnels du coaché mais en ne les analysant pas. Alors que le rôle du psychothérapeute sera d’adresser les drames personnels vécus en aidant le patient à les comprendre afin de pouvoir se projeter dans le futur.

Alors finalement que répondre lorsque l’on me demande quel métier j’exerce ? Peut-être tout simplement que c’est un métier d’accompagnement dont la finalité est d’aider une personne à élaborer, mettre en œuvre et évaluer très concrètement des projets professionnels et personnels. Le plaisir de partager avec le coaché le succès de ses objectifs est un réel boost !

Mais au delà de ce que l’on peut dire de et sur ce métier encore mystérieux, on devient coach que lorsque l’on s’autorise à  l’être.

Alors… à vos téléphones et mail pour me contacter !!!

Octobre 2010


The art of making a mistake: French or British way?

The art of making a mistake: French or British way?

An error according to Wikipedia has different meanings and usage relative to how it is conceptually applied. It is a deviation from accuracy or correctness or can be an involuntary act adapted to a given situation.

To the contrary of an illusion, an error can sometimes be dispelled through knowledge i.e. knowing that one is looking at a mirage and not at real water does not make the mirage disappear.

However a mistake has a different meaning. It is, for example, failing to stop at a red light and getting a ticket for it by the police. Well, you should have known better. So how can we turn our mistakes into positive experiences by drawing upon the knowledge we gain from them?

In England, many successful entrepreneurs interviewed mentioned the fact that they failed many times, to the point of bankruptcy several times, but still they came back with a revenge and eventually became successful.

A combination of both success and failure is essential to an entrepreneur according to the article: diving back in: what second-time entrepreneurs learned from the first time around.

In British culture, ‘practice makes perfect’ is commonly accepted and one learns from their mistake. Creativity is, therefore, much valued.

In France we tend to follow procedures, leaving few gaps for creativity. However I noticed that the French spirit comes on board and creativity is developed rather fast when trying to cut corners or dodge the heavy procedures that ‘theoretically’ need to be followed.

A mistake is, in French culture, viewed as a failure. However the perception of being courageous for having tried tends to come to light.

This approach puzzles me as France is one of the most advanced country in experimental Research and Development and “the notion of error in science is not “a mistake” but rather a difference between a computed, estimated or measured value and the true, specified or theoretically correct value”.

According to an article published by  l’atelier pédaggogique “everybody agrees that you learn from your mistakes. However not everybody has the same attitude towards the result of making a mistake. The teacher, in France, acts as a judge who gives a good or a bad grade. Therefore it is not stretching the learning capabilities of the students.

“Making a mistake is perceived as positive and an integral part of the learning procedure. It’s the correction by the student in order to reach the result forecasted by the teacher “according to Jean-Luc Force.

Trying -> mistake -> correction = experience

The perfect teacher, according to JL Force, would know how to create a positive structured environment in which the student would dare try new avenues.

An English friend of mine teaches drawing and she kindly explained to me that rubbers are forbidden in her classes. I was most intrigued by this way of teaching until she specified that making mistakes when sketching builds the scaffolding of the piece of art being produced. I find that methodology really positive.

But how many times can one try and make mistakes before reaching the decision to finally give up or try one last time ?

An article published in the Australian businesswomen’s network written by Robert Kiyosaki “The magic of making mistakes” stipulates:

“The first thing that happens after you make a mistake is that you become upset. At this point of upset, you find out who you really are”. This article then describes the cast of characters who are brought to centre stage when upsets from mistakes occur:

The liar – : I did not do that

The blamer -:  It’s your fault, not mine

The Justifier – :well, I don’t have a good education, sot that is why I don’t get ahead

The quitter – : I told you it would never work

The Denier – : No, there is nothing wrong. Things are fine

Robert goes on to mention a good piece of advice : “If you want to learn and  gain wisdom from this priceless mistake, you have to let the responsible You, eventually take control of your thinking and apply the following mental Attitude Quiz :

What are your attitudes to risk, making mistakes, and learning?

And if you are upset with someone else or yourself, what lesson can you learn and be grateful for being courageous to have taken a risk and maybe learnt something?

In other words, it is taking responsibility for your error and once the disappointment is over and the situation accepted, finding the courage and the ability to spring back and try a new path.”

The art of making mistakes is neither French nor English. In my opinion it is the ability to assess the risks involved in an objective manner, establishing a plan A and a plan B, both viable, leaving an exit door within easy reach. Thus still leaving the possibility to change direction when required and adjust the decision making process to the given situation.

Applying the ‘no rubber available’ methodology.

June 2010



Mai 2010


Since the launch of this “unique” site addressing the bicultural community in Paris, I thought long and hard and decided that instead of laboriously shutting my mind to the French words when writing my articles in …English I could, indeed, benefit from both cultures and write in Franglish…so here we go: but to help as this is the first of the new serie , I will highlight in  blue when swapping to French…

Resilience is a fantastic concept, clearly dear to my way of progressing in life.  I Looked up the “Que sais-je” , this is the definition:

“La capacité de résister à des situations traumatiques et la possibilité de transformer un traumatisme pour en faire un nouveau départ”

In other words what does not kill you makes you stronger!!!

One could articulate the concept in :

  • Identifying an opportunity in a difficult situation
  • Exploring the opportunity in a structure way
  • Thinking positively
  • Making Changes to a difficult situation in a positive way
  • Making a difference

How would one apply this concept to one’s life I wondered and what consequence does this concept has to lead one’s life?

When recruiting in London for Cisco an American company, on their international campaign, I interviewed an Engineer in Nigeria, Central Africa and Europe. Had to interview a chap who clearly seemed to be standing in the middle of a market place, as I could hear goat’s noise in the background….however in the process I came across an outstanding Engineer from Nigeria…and this is, in short, his story:

Brian came from a poor family and could not afford his further education – bearing in mind his school did not have any computer…let alone books… so he worked for several years in order to save money, took exams to be selected for engineer school in the capital of Nigeria (find the name) and was selected to go to ….Russia to further his education. When asked how he settled in St Petersburg…he replied that it was cold over there and lonely ..so he resorted to launch a club of “African students in Russia” and became president of it!!! Now that was outstanding I thought…a lost student in the depths of Russia making the decision to grab this opportunity and explore it to the full….one of the trait of resilience..

This, I believe, is outstanding: out of a difficult situation, this student was able to identify a brilliant opportunity and translate it into a benefit for himself.

Transposed in a business situation this could sort any difficult situation into a business opportunity. As long as one can think positively and analyze the given situation from several angles in order to identify the best way forward.

My recruitment week…

My recruitment week…

I used to go out in the morning really excited to meet lots of new extraordinary people and …believe me I did that absolutely everyday!!!! I’ll let you guess my job: I serve a lot of glasses of water, visit a lot of different hotels, ask a lot of questions, observe a lot of different behaviors, have to dress immaculately, be charming and smile a lot!!!

Now I can imagine you SMIRKING…You got it wrong…I am a PROFESSIONAL….double wrong!!!…I worked in England as an independent assessor on large recruitment campaigns!!!

Here are a few mishappenings that usually sent me to the water cooler pretty quick (YES…more water!!!). Stress makes you act in really weird ways from time to time..!!

Candidates unable to speak any English…and using every trick in the book to save themselves time, in order to be able to grasp what the question actually means: “could you repeat that please?? …what you mean is …” then he repeats exact wording of the question….is that correct? I usually repeat the question once more, and then rephrase the question in Pidgin English: You…preparation for this interview??? And… after all this effort, does not answer it!!…

Demonstrating how to count different travel zones for a test…Showing my three fingers in front of the face of the candidate and asking how many zones he can account for….4 was his response. Tried it again during another test: answer was two this time!! I guess arithmetic was not on top of their agenda…

During a role play,ie a situation given to the candidate who has to prepare himself for a specific scenario happening… the candidate took the brief so seriously and literally that he wrestled the assessor to the floor shouting: DON’T MOVE… I’ll call an ambulance!!! It was so entertaining that the second assessor (another lady who serves glasses of water and visits lots of different venues…!) observing the exercise, let it proceed for a while before calling for a halt when it became…too dangerous for the assessor’s health!!

Closed body language: pen and finger pointing…feet inwards pointing…arms crossed. I even interviewed a candidate who had kept his anorak on (it was July…) and… , I realized when I took him back to the reception room….his backpack (which by then had become fairly flat…!) on during the whole interview!!! He was obviously keen to run away as soon as possible!!!! I must have been terrifying…

Body odor: candidate who obviously had never met (let alone been) in a bath and was getting excited …waving arms…result obtained: I.., choking to get some fresh unpolluted air and wishing candidate had no arm….!!!

During a particular role play, the candidate was supposed to call my daughter to let her know that I am running slightly late but will be with her shortly. This is the candidate’s interpretation of the scenario when asked: “but what are you going to tell my daughter???  Candidate (candidly):” that you are her mother”….Me (absolutely stunned): “But …she knows I am her mother!!!” A Vaudeville scene as my uncle would say (I am French by the way).

Cabin Crew candidate afraid of flying and thinking this was an opportunity to beat their flying phobia…or the trade union rep for the baggage handlers turning up for an internal hearing straight from work, all dressed in white…I don’t think he had ever touched a piece of luggage in his life…!!

Another tool used in an evaluation centre was an evidence based questionnaire: When asked to discuss a situation when someone was proving difficult to work with, candidate answered: cannot think of any situation as I have never had people disagreeing with me….!! Always useful information from the point of view of an assessor…

Another candidate who obviously had understood the competency based interview questionnaire! asking if the fact that we were asking probing questions would play against him…

One of my colleagues (that is a chap serving glasses of water (yes yes!! You got it this time…) ran into my assessment room one day and breathlessly described how he had called for a “Sharon Smith” in the reception area unable to identify a lady waiting, when a deep raucous voice answered that she was Sharon. He was so shocked that he could not establish the sex of the candidate and was asking for my help!! His chosen criteria were that the candidate had…small feet and a handbag so she was a lady for sure…!!!

And the skills I have acquired you may ask??? Mastering the art of holding several glasses of water at the same time…I am also an expert at tuning in to thousands of different accents and way of speaking…when in the beginning a candidate kept on referring to “we” I was confused about how many brothers and sisters he must have…now I am used to the royal “we”.

I have also learnt to never make assumptions (which believe me can be absolutely nearly impossible sometimes…!). People are amazing is my own conclusion to this fun hobby/job I held.

On a more serious tone, competency based interview help the assessor to determine in an objective manner if the candidate is suitable for the job…i.e. all the questions asked are based upon the skills required for the job.

For example, when recruiting for a famous airline company, it was paramount to be able to establish if the candidate was customer service focused. So rather than asking the candidate: are you customer focused or do you place your customers first?? I would ask a situation based question such as: can you remember the last time you provided exceptional customer service?? I.e. you went the extra mile for one of your customer?? In that instance the candidate would provide a situation when they thought they really had gone the “extra mile” for the customer. And in analyzing the situation, I could determine if the customer was top of the candidate’s agenda or not. Therefore I could then match the demonstrated skills with my client’s requirements of exceptional customer service…

This work technique enables the assessor to work in an objective manner and in a consistent way by repeating the same technique. Through giving the same chance to each candidate!!!

This competency based technique is now starting to make its way in France. Let’s hope it will become common knowledge throughout the French recruitment world quickly and efficiently!!!!

Une semaine avec un étudiant…à quatre pattes !

Une semaine avec un étudiant…à quatre pattes !


Nous habitons un appartement, qui, bien que cossu pour Paris, est tout de même situé au quatrième étage d’un immeuble Haussmannien…pas des plus commodes pour héberger de façon permanente un compagnon à quatre pattes…aussi, lorsque mes enfants m’exprimaient leur souhait d’adopter un adorable chien Chihuahua (pratique à porter dans son sac…) j’ai failli être tentée !

Après quelques essais de recherche sur internet et la lecture d’annonces pour le moins frauduleuses ‘le chien est à Londres, je vous le donne gratuitement mais vous devez régler les frais de rapatriement d’une valeur de 2000 euros à mon cousin qui habite le Gabon … ??!!’ j’ai décidé de mettre cette recherche en attente. Par le truchement d’une dame qui enseignait le dessin à ma fille, et qui accueillait des chiens d’aveugle en formation, nous avons consulté le site de

La maison des chiens d’aveugle à Paris et avons été invités à la journée porte ouverte en juin dernier. Et là, la saga a débuté….


Accompagnée de mes deux loustics nous sommes arrivés sur un lieu qui respirait la joie de vivre ; des chiens d’aveugle partout, adultes, bébés, et retraités (ce sont les chiens non les bénévoles !). Un calme olympien y régnait. La maison des chiens d’aveugle est fort bien organisée.

La journée porte ouverte a été très touchante : un public mixte fait de non-voyants, de chiens d’aveugle au travail et de chien d’aveugles à la retraite. Une démonstration des compétences des chiens d’aveugle plus tard…et…nous avons laissé notre adresse pour devenir famille d’accueil.

La réunion m’a aidée à conclure que je ne possédais pas le temps nécessaire consacré à l’éducation d’un chien d’aveugle en formation. En revanche, j’ai décidé de proposer ma famille comme famille relais lorsque les familles bénévoles partent en vacances, bien méritées, sans pouvoir emmener leur pensionnaire. Le mois de septembre suivant, nous avons été contactés pour recevoir Elypse :

Elypse venait de subir une intervention chirurgicale, et elle était un peu ‘dans les vaps’. J’étais novice en matière de chiens d’aveugles, et il nous fallut à toutes les deux, plus de  45 minutes pour regagner la maison, alors qu’il en faut dix en temps normal! En effet un chien d’aveugle obéit à des codes particuliers et cette chienne semblait vouloir se mettre à terre tous les dix mètres…je ne savais que faire, mis à part, lui parler alternativement en français et en anglais, à la surprise des piétons !! Après deux jours d’apprivoisement réciproque, nous nous sommes finalement beaucoup appréciées et j’avais la larme à l’œil lorsqu’Elypse est retournée à la maison des chiens d’aveugle.

Le second lascar était d’un tout autre genre : je volais littéralement derrière lui ! On m’avait prévenu que Falco (rebaptisé f…ck all par mon fils!) était …puissant et j’ai vite compris la signification du mot !!! De fait Falco était un moteur à réaction !!! Heureusement pour lui et pour nous, la semaine de ses vacances a coïncidé avec la semaine de nos vacances en Bretagne et le gentil chien d’aveugle n’a fait que galoper toute la journée sur les plages bretonnes….

Pourquoi ces chiens sont-ils différents ? Et bien pour commencer, ils sont entrainés à accompagner un non-voyant, et donc ne vous lâchent pas d’une semelle. Ces chiens sont placides, loyaux, et répondent très bien à la voix…quoique mon dernier petit pensionnaire, tout juste âgé de cinq mois, n’en fasse qu’à sa tête !

L’emmener sur les champs Elysées au milieu des vacances scolaires ne fut pas une mince affaire…Ladurée par exemple, refuse d’accueillir les chiens d’aveugles (no comment !) alors que la pizzeria en face du métro Georges V m’a accueillie avec un grand bol d’eau pour le chien J et moultes caresses de la part du propriétaire du restaurant … (pour le chien!).

Le plus drôle est que les gens sont très curieux, et chaque fois que nous prenons le métro, Fog attire l’attention de tous…à moins que Fog ne soit attiré par tous J…enfin en particulier vers un jeune homme…qui s’est révélé être boucher de profession !

Les chiens d’aveugle viennent avec moi dans mes interventions professionnelles : l’école où j’enseigne a accueilli Fog les bras ouverts et les étudiants, futurs DRH, semblaient fascinés par le chiot. La même chose se produit au supermarché où après un échange assez sportif avec le garde de sécurité (style : »mais vous n’êtes pas aveugle, donc pas de chien ! » Ce à quoi je réponds que le chien apprend son métier et qu’aller au supermarché fait partie intégrante de sa carrière professionnelle …et si le ton monte et bien j’appelle le directeur du supermarché. (En général on me laisse entrer dans le magasin avant !), le chien d’aveugle et moi organisons notre shopping de façon constructive, sous le regard étonné des clients.

J’ai même été au théâtre avec l’un des chiens ! J’avais, bien évidemment vérifié la possibilité d’emmener mon compagnon à quatre pattes avec la réception…en revanche, j’avais sous-estimé le degré de chaleur dans la salle, et le chien a haleté pendant toute la représentation….heureusement les spectateurs étaient tolérants !

Et puis le prénom du dernier chien m’a beaucoup amusée …Fog ou brouillard en français …est un peu …’risqué’ pour un chien d’aveugle… ??? J)

Pourquoi effectuer cette démarche ? et bien j’estime d’une part, que je ne suis pas disponible pour adopter un compagnon à quatre pattes à plein temps, alors recevoir un chien dix jours tous les trimestres me convient parfaitement…enfin donner un peu de son temps à la communauté est une valeur qui me tient à cœur et je souhaite l’inculquer à mes deux adolescents ! Enfin, mon métier est d’accompagner des personnes sur des problématiques professionnelles sur un court temps (je suis coach : www.pvcreative.fr) et le futur métier du chien que je reçois est d’accompagner un aveugle : tout ceci me semble en parfaite cohérence.

Suis-je triste lorsque les chiens repartent à la maison des aveugles ? Un tout petit pincement de cœur, passager, mais, tout comme mon métier, qui est d’accompagner une personne sur un temps donné, et bien j’envisage ma contribution à l’éducation de ces héros , comme aussi délimitée dans le temps… !

Pascale Vernetti – février 2011

Famille relais

La maison des chiens guides pour aveugles

105 avenue St Maurice

75012 Paris

01 43 65 64 67