I'm back home from my Paris trip; it was a long day of travelling, but it all went smoothly. On the train from Gare du Nord to Charles de Gaule I saw a burnt out wreck of a truck; perhaps it was from the rioting, but I couldn't say for sure. This was the only sign of unrest that I saw on the whole trip; a big contrast from the country-on-fire images broadcast via CNN. Admittedly, I only saw a limited section of the Paris area while I was there, so who am I to make a sound judgement?
After a slightly shaky start, the trip turned out to be a success. The start was shaky because the service at my hotel wasn't all that great; apparently just giving my surname was not good enough for them to find my reservation, so I had to scrabble around my email (lucky that I had my IMAP mailbox sync'd to my HD!) to find additional information. After then waiting for the english speaker to finish his cigarette break, I could finally confirm my reservation. I then had to wait for my room to be made up. Not the best service I've ever had; I think they probably assumed that I'd come from England that morning, when in fact I'd been travelling from the USA since the day before. Oh well.
The hotel was ok though, and they had free wifi access for guests. It was WEP protected and when I asked about the WEP key, the guy at the desk said he didn't have any more boxes. Strange. The next night I was lucky and managed to obtain a box... it turns out that they use a little box with a wifi-to-ethernet bridge in them; one end of the box plugs into the AC outlet in the wall, and the other into your ethernet port. Interesting approach; it means that they don't need to worry about giving out their WEP keys, can provide service to people without wifi cards and that they don't need to plumb in wired ethernet either.