I've decided to keep a list of cultural differences I've noticed since beginning to work and live here in Paris. This is not a new idea, of course, but keep in mind that what I notice is only what strikes me in particular, thus making it completely original. Ha! So there.
One particularly noticeable difference is that here in headquarters, in the modern business district of La Défense, it seems that most people actually prefer to work with the lights off. Be they secretaries, interns, technicians or vice presidents, they are working in the dark. Some even go so far as to pull the blinds closed as well. I am not sure if this has to do with computer screens and glare, energy efficiency taken to the limit, or simply that everyone's skin looks much better if you forgo the fluorescent bulbs.
Personally, it depresses me and puts me to sleep. My poor coworker has to hear me every day say, "Do you mind if I turn on the lights?" She gives me a look, smiles, and says, "Whatever you want."