It was to be my first solo trip in a very long time – a house sit in Paris taking care of a young cat named Mishky. I had been to Paris several times before, but I wanted to do something a little different this time. So, while browsing the Internet for inspiration on what to do in Paris that didn’t just include visiting the Eiffel Tower, I came across this site for Paris Greeters.
What Are Paris Greeters?
According to their website,
“Paris Greeters are volunteer, passionate ambassadors who warmly welcome their visitors from around the world. They offer free walks in Paris and surrounding districts. Each encounter is a unique experience: sharing this world, discovering someone else and a different culture.’
Umm, it sounded intriguing, I love exploring new neighbourhoods, and it would be fun to see Paris from a local’s perspective. So I filled in the online form, where you get to list the sort of stuff you’re interested in from history, architecture, daily life and the language you’d like to communicate in.
A week later, I had received my proposal –
‘Hi Sarah, I suggest going for an unusual walk through the 19th and the 20th districts of PARIS where we will discover canals, dams, vineyards and some great views over the city! You will enjoy the stroll for sure! So see you on July 10 at 2:15 pm (or at 11:30 am if you agree on that time), Christoph’.
I said sure!
My Experience Exploring Paris Like A Local
So, on a rainy Saturday morning in July, I met Christoph in front of the Café le Jaurès just outside the Jaurès Metro stop at 11:30 am. Christoph was a wonderful walking companion, and his English was excellent, which was lucky as the only French I could remember from school is ‘le chat est sur la table et le chien est sous la table.’ Not really that useful.
Fortunately, the rain stopped shortly after meeting, and we started our walk. Apparently, I was Christoph’s first guest since February 2020! Not surprising, really -so he was pretty enthusiastic about showing somebody around his hood.
Over the next 2 1/2 hours, we strolled through parts of the 19th and 20th arrondissements. I didn’t take that many photos because I wasn’t yet used to travelling solo and forgot! That had always been my partner Jonathan’s job, while I enjoyed what was going on around me.
We started with a stroll along the Bassin de la Villette. At 800 metres long and 70 metres wide, this is Paris’s most extensive artificial stretch of water. It links the Canal de l’Ourcq to the Canal Saint-Martin.
Alongside the canal, they were getting ready for the Parisian summer to finally arrive – creating riverbank beaches and outdoor bar areas.
From here, we headed up to the gorgeous Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. And then I remembered about taking photos. How had I never been here before? It reminded me of the lovely Prospect Park in Brooklyn from a housesit adventure a long time ago.
Located in the northeast of Paris, at 25 hectares, the Buttes-Chaumont Park is one of the largest green spaces in the French capital. Incredible layout with caves and waterfalls, a suspension bridge, and high viewpoints. Since moving to Malta, I get very excited whenever I come across trees and parks – a rarity in my part of the world.
We strolled through the charming local neighbourhood of Belleville with its hilltop park. Here would have been an excellent spot to watch the Bastille Day fireworks, but I braved the crowds that day and went to the Eiffel Tower up close.
Christoph showed me tiny vineyards, local allotments and extraordinary gothic style churches. Even the house where Edith Piaf was born.
It was lovely exploring parts of Paris that tourists usually wouldn’t see. Yes, I may have come across the parks by myself but not the cute little side streets, and I certainly wouldn’t have spotted any vineyards.
We ended our walk at the Pyrénées Metro Stop. I can only find my way around Paris if I’m left at a metro stop.
Would I Recommend Paris Greeters?
Yes, it was a fun way to discover new neighbourhoods with a local. Paris Greeters are part of the International Greeter Organisation that offers free walks or ‘greets’ as they call them in over 130 destinations worldwide.
How Much Does It Cost To Use Paris Greeters?
Paris Greeters don’t charge anything for their walks, but you are encouraged to make a donation to the organisation.
Easy Day Trip From Paris
If you’re in Paris for a few days, consider taking a trip to the gorgeous Monet’s Garden in Giverny.
For Those Interested In Housesitting
I use Trusted Housesitters whenever I travel. I have a combined membership that allows me to find someone to look after my dog Angel and for me to do sits. If you’ve ever thought about joining a Housesitting site, take a look here .You will get 25% off membership, and I’ll get two free months added to my membership- a win-win!
It does seem a bit pricey at first glance, but when you consider this trip, for example, how much 11 nights in a hotel in Paris would have cost me plus two weeks kennel fees, it’s actually pretty good value.
And guess what?
When I got back to my house sit, where was Mishky? Mishky est sur la table!
Next stop: The beautiful town of Lyons.
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