I have received a lot of questions about my trip to Paris, especially questions asking who I hung out with, who took my photos, and what I did while I was there. All of those questions can be answered by simply saying "I made friends!" and here are a few of the ways I connected with people in Paris.
On my first full day in Paris, I went on a Fat Tire Bike Tour and happened to meet two lovely ladies from Chicago. They were in town for the weekend and invited me to join them for dinner that night after the tour; we had a great time and that led to a few more dinners and activities with them over the next few days. I would encourage anyone moving to a new city to take a tour or activity where other newbies will also be and do your best to network...even if your new friends are only in town for a couple of days, it's a great way to start your trip!
I had heard of Meetup.com but had never joined any groups until now... I have a great group of friends in Dallas, so I didn't feel the need to go to any meetups in the states. Once in Paris, I joined multiple groups focused on expats living in Paris, photography, blogging, walking tours, anything that I thought I would enjoy. I went to meetup events and started introducing myself to anyone who spoke (any!) English. I really enjoyed all of the events I went to with the Paris Photography Meetup group; it was a great mix of Frenchies and expats, and everyone brought their camera, so I fit right in! We toured museums, took portraits along the Seine, went to art exhibits, and explored suburban neighborhoods together, and I always felt comfortable and had a ton of fun.
I used Meetup's events to browse the guest list and see if there were any friendly faces who might be interested in a separate coffee date or activity. I sent messages almost daily for my first couple of weeks to new ladies on Meetup and asked if they wanted to grab coffee or lunch. Luckily, they were willing to snap a photo of me while we got to know each other, except for one special lady who acted like my camera had the plague and refused to touch it. Um, check please. (true story.)
I loved meeting Lauren (@ionarevolver) and learning about her past three years in Paris. She is a writer from California and was happy to share her knowledge about Paris with me; we tried a few coffee shops together and she even helped me taste test Pierre Herme macarons for a blog post- what a trooper, right?!
A few of the ladies I met were from the US but loved Paris like I do, and a few were from other European countries. I am always amazed at how many languages Europeans speak, and usually leave our meetings feeling inspired to learn more foreign language and culture. I probably wouldn't have visited the Rodin museum or had a great experience at the market without these friends with me, so I'm thankful to have met them in Paris!
Everything is so much more enjoyable when you can share it with someone you like, so I encourage you to listen and look for opportunities to meet international friends on your next trip. You never know where it will lead- maybe even to a free place to stay on your next visit to another country!