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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to WordCamp Europe 2017 in Paris

I was going to write a few random tips about WordCamp Europe to help out some friends  in a non-official / not-too-serious way, but then I ended up writing this and I thought it was worth sharing to a larger audience. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

Without further ado, here’s the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to WordCamp Europe written by an Italian living in the Paris area.

Where to Stay in Paris

As a general statement I advise not to stay close to the venue for the very simple reason that there’s nothing to do in that area after the conference (you can use Google StreetView if you want to see for yourself  ). If you come as a sponsor with a booth this might be a reason to be close to the venue, but you will have to go in the city centre or in some other areas for enjoying nightlife.

On the hotels page on the WordCamp Europe site make sure you scroll down past the first map in order to see hotels located in other areas which are definitely more lively.

https://2017.europe.wordcamp.org/attendee-information/hotels-in-paris/

I created a simplistic map of the WCEU events. The WordCamp Europe venue is up north, and the party on the west side. I also drew a small section of the metro lines 1 and 12 (they are longer than in my drawing)


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1WfIuG06BC9nTk7VYFGDC1rAtuM4&usp=sharing

My advice is to find an accommodation that is along line 12 of the Metro as that’s a direct line to the WCEU venue. As a rule of thumb you can count 30 minutes to get from the centre of Paris to the WordCamp Europe venue. Trains run very often you shouldn’t worry about that part.

If you don’t have particular constraints I’d say that the best location is around “Concorde” (where the metro lines intersect) in terms of logistics as you can move around Paris easily via Metro line 1 as well as reach the WCEU venue with line 12.

That’s not a cheap area, but you can make compromises by finding some hotels/flats that are at walking distance from a metro stop. The Paris Metro network is very dense, it shouldn’t be difficult. Staying somewhere else is also ok, just make sure you don’t have to change too many metro lines to get toWordCamp Europe.

Saint Lazare area is also a good spot logistics wise as Saint Lazare has plenty of train/metro connections.

How to Move Around Paris

Metro (aka subway aka underground) is the best method to move around Paris from 7 AM to 8 PM. Going around Paris on a car during the day and especially during rush hours is something I wouldn’t recommend to my worst enemy. After 8 PM, it’s more than ok to take a Uber as traffic is  low.

TheWordCamp Europe venue is located at stop “Front Populaire” on line 12.

You can find more info about the metro and the different tickets available on this site:

http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21879/visiting-paris/

You can also use the site to estimate your traveling times, it’s very reliable in terms of estimates.

Btw, in Paris there are two main rail networks: RER and Metro. Metro is the local network, while RER is more for suburban areas. As a general rule you will always take the Metro, so don’t bother thinking about RER. RER will be useful if you are travelling to/from the airports (RER B) or if you want to quickly get out of Paris. The two networks intersect each other in certain stations and that’s how you can take one or the other…

Things to do in Paris

I am not expert and you can certainly find information online, but here what I’d suggest to do if you have the time (e.g. you arrive a few days earlier or stop for a few days after the event)

Bateaux Mouches

those are the boats that run along the Seine river in Paris. Might seem a very touristic thing to do, but it’s worth to see the city from a different perspective. If it’s a nice day I strongly suggest dining on one of those boats while cruising along the river, especially in the evening when the sun goes down. I did this a long time ago, but I still have good memories about it.

Montmartre  http://www.aparisguide.com/montmartre/ 

This is a must-do… plenty of movies have been shot there and you get that “Paris-like” feeling when walking around that area. Plus you get a nice view of the city from the Sacre Coeur church.

Chateau de Versailleshttp://en.chateauversailles.fr/

This is the big castle that is 20 km  off Paris. You can reach it via train from Gare Montparnasse, overall you should count 1 hour door to door so you need to plan this. If the weather is good, it’s worth going in order to see the beautiful gardens. Time wise this is a consuming trip, but it is quite a unique place.

Museums

If it rains and you are into museums, you can knock yourself out in Paris… you can go and lose yourself inside the Louvre… or try the Musee d’Orsay, or plenty of other museums… it’s really about your personal taste there’s plenty of choice. Plus you will find out how much arts the French stole from other countries (e.g. Mona Lisa).

Eiffel Tower

There are always people going on the Eiffel Tower, so don’t be surprised if there are people in line. Personally I have never been on the Eiffel Tower so I can’t tell you if it’s worth it.

 

Nightlife

Being a parent of two kids my knowledge on Paris nightlife has decreased dramatically, so I am not up to date with what’s cool and trendy… I’ll try and gather some information from other people and if you are a Parisian and want to contribute just send an email, it will be more than welcome.

 

Food

“The history of every major galactic civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Enquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat?, the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

As an Italian living abroad, I have learned to lower my standard when it comes to food and I even betrayed my own country by eating things that in Italy would be considered heresy.

With that said, I have to say that the French made quite a reputation for their cuisine. As everybody knows the French cuisine is the second best after the Italian one.  😉 

A typical french thing to try is “crepes”. They are a bit like waffles but thinner and with quite some choice. You can have “salty” ones as well as sweet ones. You can find restaurants that do just that, they are called “creperies”. They also tend to be rather cheap.

“Bistro” / “Brasserie” are typical french restaurants where you can find daily meals that French eat at lunch break.

Croissants / Pain au chocolat / Baguette / Pastry in general: make sure you try them all. Shops that sell this are called “Patisserie” or “Boulangerie”. Where you see bread, you can normally get some pastry as well.

 

Coffee: just like Italians tried to copy French croissants without much success, the same can be said about the French and their “espresso” coffee. I think your best option is to try things out and see what fits your taste. If you are Italian, your best option is to stick to tea like I do…

If you are passionate about food, there are enough high end restaurants with Michelin stars in Paris. A good tip is to book one of those restaurants for lunch during the week as they are cheaper and often you can find a place while this is really tough during evenings. If you are coming with your better half and want to score some points, you can definitely do that…

Before choosing a restaurant have a look at Tripadvisor or anything similar. An app called “The Fork is a good way to book a restaurant without having to call the restaurant… calling a restaurant most likely means that you have to speak french or hope they speak english. Paris is a very touristic area, but finding people who speak good english can be a challenge. You don’t need to book restaurants in general, but mentioning this just in case you are a big group…

Trivia

In June the sun (when not hidden behind clouds) goes down very late in Paris around 10pm so you can definitely enjoy the city until late. Sunset along the Seine river is not bad at all…

You should expect some rain even in June… the good news is that last  year was one of the worst in terms of rain, so chances are that this year it won’t be as bad.

It’s custom in Paris to hold the door when you walk into a building or in the metro for the person coming after you. Parisians tend not to talk with each other much, but if you don’t hold the door they find that really impolite. Go figure…

Smoking inside bars/restaurants/buildings is not allowed

Paris is going to get the biggest startup campus in the world, if you feel like going and check it out you can get some news here.

If you are in Paris still on June 21st, you will be able to enjoy the “Fete de la Musique” a nation wide event created some 20+ years ago to celebrate music. It has become a major success and you will see people playing music in the street without any restriction. It is really a great experience, do not miss it if you can.

5 Ways to Start a Conversation and Annoy a French Person

If you want some ice breakers for conversations with French people, these are good ones:

  • Italian food is so much better than French
  • How did France do in the Six Nations this year?
  • I went to the Louvre, it’s amazing how much stuff you guys stole from other countries!
  • This is the first time I am in France and I am surprised there are no strikes
  • So, did you vote for Marine Le Pen at the last elections?

My Relationship with France

I ended up living in France almost by chance after doing part of my university studies here. If I hadn’t crashed a certain housewarming party in the summer of 2000 I certainly would have never met my now wife Katell. Worth noting she too crashed the housewarming party where we met.

After almost 10 years spent in the Netherlands we decided to live in France again, so after mastering the French dialect (French is a dialect of Italian in case you did not know ) I have now come to be accepted almost as a native. I have to say that my friends network, while very international, is very much dominated by French people. So while I like to tease the French, somewhere really really deep down inside of me I must like them somehow ;-). 

To conclude, if you come to WordCamp Europe from outside France I hope this quick guide will help your stay in Paris. If you are from Paris do not hesitate to reach out to add more tips.

See you in Paris and if you have more questions do not hesitate…

ciao

Luca

Author: Luca Fracassi

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