Now you have a friend in Paris [Updated December 2017]
I’m this friend. I’m Jean-Baptiste (call me JB), a near-30 Parisian, and what I do is simple : I make travellers like you discover the real Paris.
In early September , I started to offer my help to travellers coming in Paris. Just mentioning it in my social networks profiles, and answering questions on forums. I didn’t shout about it, I just got in touch with real travellers, people curious about local life, not tourists.
In the whole September month, in addition to responding to fifty various questions, I met 4 travellers, from France, UK, Japan and Chile. Each meeting was a really good time, and I felt useful.
And then, at the end of October [2016, still], and not only I answered up to 10 questions a day, but I already helped 19 travellers to feel like Parisians [Edit : now, beginning of December 2017, it is more than 100 travellers]. So, as I have to often answer the same questions, I wrote this paper about three of them, for you to know everything :
- What do I mean by “welcoming travellers” in Paris ;
- Why do I do that ;
- What I’m doing with my life.
What do you mean by “welcoming travellers” in Paris ?
I mean that I do everything I can to help you feel like Parisians. I share my knowledge of the city, I give tips, and everyday, I answer questions, like :
- Jeferson wanted to know if Porte de Vanves is a good neigborhood,
- Coco asked about the public transports (I should write a post about that),
- and Luis wanted to “know the actual Paris culture”. This one is my favorite request.
To know the Parisian culture, you have to meet and share with locals, it’s simple as that. And guess what ? I’m a local.
“There is no better way to know a place than to know the people that live in it” Noy, from Jerusalem
So that’s what I do : I spend a couple hours with travellers, showing them the hidden gems of Paris, the real local life, far from the tourists.
Montmartre and Pigalle are my speciality, as I lived there, but some travellers have special demands, like Saïki, from Japan, who wanted a French Revolution Experience, or Edith, from Peru, who wanted a Edith Piaf tour, or even Ahmed from Egypt, who was eager to see Dalida’s statue.
What I love about these experiences is that walking in low key areas isn’t really the point ; it’s an excuse to meet, to talk about everything, to share our thought and passions.
It’s like, the simple fact realizing that we can instantly make bonds with strangers coming from the other side of the world was a reward in itself.
A measure of humanity to exchange, to remember that life is beautiful.
“I am a part of all those I have met” Gamzesaba, from Istanbul
Why do you do that ?
At first, I just answered with three points :
To give back
Wherever I travel, I always search for local people to make me discover their city and way of life. It’s something I didn’t do enough when I was young, and I deeply regret it.
So I do the same when I’m home : you want to discover the real Paris ? Follow me !
To travel a little
On a week, I spent time with Dean from Detroit, Roberta from Sao Paulo, Jeferson from Sao Paulo too, and Coco, an inspiring wanderer from Taïpei. Next week, maybe it will be Moscow, London and Guadalajara. Who else can say that in Paris ?
Moreover, meeting travellers helps me get inspiration for future travel plans (I added Uruguay on my list thanks to Jeferson) or to plan travels by asking for tips (like for my next travel to Costa Rica).
To feel useful
I’m currently unemployed. I could spend my whole day gaming, or doing sport, or whatever, but I like to feel helpful. Seing these people smile while we walk and talk is a blessing.
Now I know that there are even more reasons to be a welcomer ; maybe I’ll discuss them in another paper.
What do you do in life ?
Classic story of a near-thirty. I was a young executive, working in online banking. After a few years, didn’t find sense anymore in my job, and quit.
So, for almost a year, I had time to do sport again, to win innovation contests, to help friends with their projects, to learn to keep a positive mind, and mostly : to travel with my girlfriend. First, citytrips (like Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin), but now we’re planning bigger travels once a year (Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and next, Costa Rica).
Now I know that I want to create something new in the travel field.
Not tourism field, travel field. [Edit : and I started it with a friend ! It’s called Welcom’ to Paris, and the goal is to allow travellers to meet Parisians, share a moment and live genuine Parisian experiences — see our landing page below].
And how do you create something new for travellers ? You have to be a traveller, and meet travellers, simple as that.
“Forwarding gentleness that you received somewhere from somebody later to someone else is a mantra.”
Stephan, from Munich
Now I’m just a welcomer for travellers coming to Paris.
If you plan to come, I can help you ; if you don’t, maybe I can help your friends that will be travelling here.
See you soon in Paris ?
From La Chapelle with love,
I read and reply to every comment on Medium, feel free to answer.
[Edit :] Here is our landing page, if you want to get our newsletter :