Paris is the third most visited city in the world, but it’s also one of the hardest to figure out. “The hype [about Paris] is so big, but when you get here and are confronted with the complexity of everything, it can be difficult,” says Benjamin Forlani, co-founder of Insidr, a new service for travelers to Paris.
Sixth-generation Parisians, Benjamin and his sister Nina love this city, but after years spent living and working in over ten countries, both realized that there is room for improvement. “We are deeply in love with our home city, but at the same time we look at it from an outsider’s perspective and it’s not the best city to travel to,” says Benjamin.
In 2014, both Forlanis were ready for a career change. Together, they landed on the idea of Insidr, a device that combines digital and analog features to offer travelers to Paris an easier and more welcoming experience than what which the city is known for. “We hope that we will contribute to the evolution of Paris as a welcoming city with friendly people, seamless navigation, and good service,” says Benjamin.
As vacation rental hosts, the Forlanis noticed that travelers’ biggest challenges were connectivity and figuring out how to get off the tourist-trodden path. International phone plans are pricey and according to Benjamin, “Despite staying in the Marais, [our] guests were having the same mass tourism experience and not the Parisian experience we wanted them to have.”
“We like technology, but we really want Insidr to be human,” says Nina. That’s where the Community comes in. Currently made up of 60 Parisians enthusiastic about sharing their city, the Insidr Community is accessible via WhatsApp on every Insidr phone. Travelers can ask questions to groups organized into categories – like Food, What’s Up, or All About Paris – and real live Parisians respond in real time. It’s a little like having an extended family in France.
In addition to having actual Parisians answer their queries, travelers have access to a selection of pre-loaded maps organized by neighborhood, traveler profile, and the Insidr team’s top recommendations across the city. There’s even a map that caters to vegetarians.
“We also put together digital guides to tourist areas,” says Benjamin. Although Insidr users are thrilled to discover destinations popular with locals, they still want to hit up the classic sights. “Rather than a guide, we just provide practical advice from Parisians, like how to avoid crowds and have a nicer experience,” says Benjamin. “These things are easy to find if you speak French or live here, but can be difficult for visitors to figure out.”
Benjamin likens Insidr to a Swiss Army knife, equipped with everything a traveler needs. A currency convertor and social apps provide the comfort of home, while featured partners – like childcare and food delivery services – offer unexpected convenience. After all, it’s often the details, like misunderstanding opening times or not being able to find a babysitter, that can dampen an otherwise enjoyable vacation. “We try to think of the small stuff that really matters,” says Nina.
Insidr is available from 29 euros for three days. Visit their website to learn more and do let them know HiP sent you their way.
- Craving a real Parisian experience? Check out the personalized tours and experiences organized by Sacrebleu Paris.
- Download these apps to your phone for the best restaurant and food recommendations in Paris.
- Check out this cool video on the Insidr Paris experience!
Written by Kate Robinson for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by Jean-Marie Heidinger. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.