Thursday, 4 December 2008

Wanted: a friendly Parisian

Parisians rude and unfriendly? No, you´ve got it all wrong. In fact, to prove it, Paris Greeters will get a extra-friendly resident to give you a free city tour. Or, at least, that´s the theory. In reality, it seems all 11 million of them are a little busy right now. One will get back to you though. Maybe. If you´re very persistent.

Journalist Agnès Poirier waited six weeks to get a response - and only then after tipping them off that she was journalist. She wrote an entertaining blog about it over at Guardian Travel.

But friendly Parisians can´t be in that short supply, can they? My recent trip there showed that the best way to get behind closed doors - literally and metaphorically - is to stay with a local via a B&B network, such as or Alcôve & Algapes. Pictured left is my host, Françoise - a professional laughter coach living in the eastern suburb of Vincennes - with the equally friendly Jenny Johnson from 2binParis.

Or you could try meeting a Couchsurfer. Paris is the world´s largest Couchsurfing city, with over 15,000 local members.

And before you despair in all greeter schemes. Check out this follow-up blog, Pleased to Greet You, which covers more successful greeting experiences in Jamaica and Argentina, among others.

I'll add links to these greeter sites to the Going Local Travel sidebar. And thanks to Stephen Chapman of MakeTravelFair for making me aware of many of them.