vendredi 18 mai 2012

Free Walking Tours with Parisian Volunteers

Always looking for an opportunity to combine practising French and to visit parts of Paris that I have not previously seen in detail, I decided to do a walking tour of Paris with 'Parisien d'un jour - Paris Greeter'.

Contact is made through their website specifying what language you want to do the tour in, availability and interests. The walks are provided free of charge by volunteers who are all Parisians passionate about their city. You can however make a donation to the association if you wish. Offers for various tours of 2 of 3 hours based on your interests are emailed to you and you choose which one you want. The group is limited to 6 people.

Passage des Cerfs
I was contacted by Alain and accepted his offer for a tour in French to visit Le Sentier area in the 2nd arrondissement. I deliberately chose an area that was not part of the usual tourist trail and which would, I hope, present an insight into a working area of Paris. The area houses the many clothing wholesalers that support the Paris rag-trade. 

Workers waiting for delivery trucks to arrive
Jess (from China) and I enjoyed Alain's anecdotes as he lead us through many of the narrow passageways and busy streets of the area. He pointed out features that we would have otherwise missed and I am sure would not be covered by any guidebooks. Yes, we did see some of the seedier parts of life with heavily made up women tottering around in high heels and fishnet stockings. They weren't young by any stretch of the imagination. They may of course just been waiting for a bus although, somehow I think not. We also visited the animated rue Montorgueil which is closed to traffic and full of cafés and restaurants. On Sundays it is also the site for the areas market. We finished up by visiting the area around the Porte de Saint-Denis and the Porte de Saint-Martin.

The passageways and streets were not the most attractive in Paris but it was fascinating peeking through the windows and doorways to see people working cutting out designs, doing commercial laundry, repairing umbrellas, making furniture etc. I could have course just walked around the area myself but having a local who shared their passion and knowledge taking us into places I would have overlooked was such a huge bonus.
Jess, Alain and moi
Thank you to Alain for a wonderful visit to a part of your Paris. I am looking forward to another visit next week. 

Parisien d'un jour:

1 commentaire:

  1. Sounds like an excellent way to visit Paris and practise your French at the same time!


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