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Paris Greeters, a volunteer organization of amiable Parisians who look forward to welcoming visitors to their city are changing the impression that Paris is a less than friendly city, one tour at a time, every day.
As Linda and I make our away across the city from the broad perfumed boulevards of the Champs Elysee to the gritty, lyrical lanes of the Left Bank, we are giddy with anticipation. We are about to meet a new friend that we met a few weeks ago online thanks to the Paris Greeters organization. Our Paris Greeter / guide, Laurent, has volunteered to show us his city on this particular Saturday afternoon. We’ve been in touch by email to set a time and place to meet, discussed our mutual interests, and exchanged photos so we can recognize each other outside the Metro station.
Within minutes of meeting we are talking, laughing and already appreciating the nuances of Left Bank neighborhoods and seeing French culture through new eyes. Beyond a litany of Louis’ and their royal accomplishments (how DO they keep 18 Louis straight?) we stroll by a Pierre Herme´ pastry shrine (you really can’t call it a bake shop when there are 50 people waiting in line to get in the door!); then on to Gelati D’Alberto where the iced delights look like rose blossoms, and of course we can’t resist ogling the decadent cheeses and fragrant produce at an open market. Oh to be a Parisian on market day! Laurent schools us on choosing restaurants to dine in, “NEVER enter a restaurant that has ‘French Cuisine’ on the sign or menu”, he admonishes, “they are just for poor unsuspecting tourist!”