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Monthly Archive for June, 2014

ICC & Château de Versailles

Choua Lor
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

 Here we are at day sixteen in Europe! Only a few days left until we return home. Some of us are ready to go home while others are wishing we could stay forever. It is day four in Paris and the morning started off as usual with breakfast in the hotel. We met in the hotel lobby by 9AM and then ventured off to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) for a business presentation.

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Upon arrival at the ICC, we were guided into a presentation room where we were provided with beverages including water, tea, or coffee. The introductory presentation was given to us by Mary Kelly, Director of Editorial and Internal Communications. Mary is an American who has been working in France for the past 14 years. She provided us with general information regarding the ICC.

 Mary explained to us that the ICC was established in 1919 by a group of businessmen who wanted to standardize international trade as a means of increasing trade relations and maintaining an open market in hopes of keeping peace between countries. Its headquarters are based in Paris at the facility that we visited today. Mary detailed how the ICC functions with its 6.5 million business including Fortune 500 companies as well as small to medium sized businesses (SMEs).

 The ICC writes guidelines and rules regarding international trade. These rules are voluntarily followed by businesses who want to develop, enhance, or promote standardization in their trade agreements. After Mary’s thorough presentation, her colleague Alma Fargo, who is a deputy counsel in the Court of Arbitration, provided us with an in-depth presentation on the ICC’s Court of Arbitration.

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Alma explained to us that the Court of Arbitration is a place of dispute resolution. It was founded in 1923 just a few years after the ICC itself was established. Two parties are brought together to resolve their conflicts or disputes using the procedures of the Court of Arbitration which are revised and published every 10 years. Any business has the choice to use the ICC’s Court of Arbitration if they please. Businesses do not need to be members in order to comply with ICC’s guidelines.

 Usage of the Court of Arbitration can be made legally binding by inserting a clause into the contract/agreement of any trade relationship between two businesses. Alma details that by doing so, businesses must use and adhere to the Court of Arbitration rulings for all disputes deriving from the relationship between the two businesses. Dispute resolution generates the ICC approximately $65,689,593 annually.

 After the thorough presentation, Alma answered some questions from us regarding arbitrators’ workload, working at the ICC, and dispute scenarios. (To learn more about the ICC, visit their website: ICCWBO)

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After our visit to the ICC, we hopped on a train and travelled to Versailles. Upon arrival, the group split up to find food. We met up an hour later and went to tour the Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles) where King Louis XIV lived in the 17th century. The palace included grandiose paintings and furniture of brilliant colors. Walking through the palace felt like walking through a fairytale. Each room was decorated in breathtaking artwork and no two rooms looked the same. The walls were adorned in gold décor and expensive paintings. Chandeliers of different styles hung in many rooms and the ceilings depicted artistic masterpieces.

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Once we completed our tour of the palace, some of us decided to leave Versailles while others explored the vast and breathtaking Garden of Versailles. The view of the garden was magnificent! Some of us decided to rent a one hour golf cart to ride around in the garden while others chose to walk. The garden contained pathways of lush forestry and shrubbery. Flowers climbed the walls of the garden as fountains reflected sunlight.

 The trip to Versailles was definitely an amazing and memorable event. Tomorrow marks our last day in Europe before our departure back home. It surely will be bittersweet.

Musée du Louvre

Katie Kryzaniak
Monday, June 2, 2014

We started our day by meeting Fatima in the lobby of our hotel. We walked to the metro station and took the metro to Sofitel Paris La Defense, a five star hotel located in the business district. The hotel had a modern design, but still felt cozy. This was one of the main goals in designing the hotel. We were able to tour some of the rooms in the hotel and talked about the business aspect with our guide. Our guide was the director of sales. The hotel is considered to be the largest hotel company in the world and has a variety of well known hotels within its brand. They vary from economy to luxury. The hotel we are staying at, Ibis, is a part of this particular brand. They have locations all over the world and have 8 locations in the United States.

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The hotel consists of 151 rooms and 16 suites.Their luxury room is 28 square meters, which is large considering most hotel rooms are small in Paris. We toured this room and  had a chance to talk about rates for each type of room. The nightly rate starts at 180 euros for a basic room. Generally, the range in rate depends on the day of the week. The junior suite is similar to the luxury, but has a sitting area. The nightly rate is between 270-350 euros. The hotel also offers meeting rooms to utilize as well. The rate is 100-150 euros per person, per day. Our guide said they have 80% occupancy throughout the year. They are satisfied that they can maintain the 80% each year.

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After the hotel tour, we walked through the business district to catch the metro to go back to the hotel and grab lunch. While walking, it was interesting to see modern business structures within Paris. Many of the building were not just square boxes, but they were strategically designed with beautiful architecture.

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Once we finished lunch, we made our way back to the metro station and took the metro to the Louvre. Everyone was excited to see the Mona Lisa and other one-of-a-kind art pieces. The Louvre was very crowded. Some of the major art pieces were surrounded by tourists from all over the world, including kids in school groups. The Mona Lisa was the most popular area. The room it was kept in was packed full with people. Our large group split up because it was easier to travel around the museum. The Louvre was also very hot. This was surprising because it was not hot outside.

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After the Louvre, we had some free time to see the city and have dinner. A small group went to Montmartre again to visit shops and look at some art by local artists. Another group went to see the Eiffel Tower later at night to enjoy the lights.

La Tour Eiffel

Eddie Dominguez
Sunday, June 1, 2014

After our tour of the beautiful Montmartre hill, our group ended up splitting up for lunch and shopping. We met up to go to the Eiffel Tower to take on the adventure of heading to the tip top of the tallest structure in France and one of the most iconic gems of the world. The tower stands at 1,036 feet high, which is equivalent to an 81 story building. Some group members decided to walk to the second level and then take an elevator all the way to the top whereas other took two elevators. All of us were taken away by the sights of Paris when we arrived at the top.

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Once we stepped out of the elevator at the very top, we all were amazed with how big the city is and a little nervous of the heights. Once up there, we were able to read about a little history of the tower. It was first constructed in 1887 and completed two years later. The material used is puddled or wrought iron that weighs approximately 7,300 tons. Each year, about 6 million people visit the structure adding up to over 250 million people. We were lucky enough to be added to the list and made it up and down without incident.

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When were were on the ground level, we all congregated together to get ready for our boat tour or Paris along the Seine River. A couple of us were getting hungry so we stopped to get a crêpe or a sorbet before the trip. A crêpe is a thin pancake with a flavoring within the middle, usually chocolate, and a sorbet is a fruity frozen dessert similar to sherbet ice cream but without dairy content. Once we set sail, our group passed under 22 bridges and saw an amazing view of Paris’s most famous structures including the Louvre, Notre Dame, and more. Not only did we get to sight see, we were able to learn more about what was passing by us with an audio that guided our tour.

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Paris was founded under three values: freedom, equality, and brotherhood. It is considered the city of lights, love, art, and many other names. Learning about all the different wonders of Paris was quite an experience for our group and one memory that we shall never forget.


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