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You’re about to realize your dream: living in Paris for a month. You found an apartment, booked your flight, and learned how to ask for les toilettes.

You imagine strolling through the city, taking in the sights, hanging out at cafés, and being…Parisian.  Of course, part of the fun of travel is making new friends. As much as we love French hospitality, local Parisians and expats aren’t always hanging out in cafés looking for tourists to befriend. If your plan was to strike up conversation with the local artists over espresso at your neighborhood bistrot, you might want to think up a slightly more elaborate back-up plan. Just in case.

Plus, maybe your idea of Paris includes escaping the tourist traps and discovering truly local haunts – great live music at an otherwise unassuming dive bar, or a fantastic meal at your neighborhood restaurant. With a dash of creativity, there are plenty of original ways to meet people and experience a little of the true Paris. Here are a few ideas:

Gael Sagueton
  • Jim Haynes’ Sunday dinners. Jim Haynes, an American ex-pat, has been holding Sunday dinner at his apartment in the 14th arrondissement for 30 years. You will meet plenty of Americans, but also people from France and other countries. Make your reservation early, as Jim’s apartment is small and can only hold about 50 people. If it’s a warm and clear night, he’ll accept more people as the crowd spills outside. After making a reservation, contact Jim on Sunday morning to get his building code and plan to arrive at 8 pm sharp. A donation is suggested, but you don’t need to bring anything else.
  • CouchSurfing. This organization connects locals who have a little extra sleeping space with travelers looking for a place to stay for free. Beyond finding a cheap place to rest your head, it’s also a great way to meet locals and see a city through their eyes. CouchSurfing has groups in most major cities; the Paris group is very active, with over 60,000 members. Every Monday night, Parisian members meet at The Lions pub for trivia night and in the summertime, picnics are organized in parks all over the city. On any given day, you can find half dozen things to do: meet someone to go sightseeing, attend a party at someone’s home, join a vegetarian brunch… Once you sign up, go to the Paris group page to connect with locals and travelers looking for things to do in Paris.
Christophe Verdier
  • Practice your Franglish. Franglish (it’s actually called that) is a group of French and English speakers that meets every week in Paris. The concept is kind of like speed-dating-meets-language-lessons over drinks, but rather than dating, it’s a way to make friends. You first chat with one person for 7 minutes in French, followed by 7 minutes in English. You switch partners and languages several times and recent transplants will be happy to know that your French doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Join organizations or volunteer. The American Library in Paris, the largest English-language library in Europe, puts together a number of events and opportunities for expats to mingle, including author readings, discussions, art and photography exhibits, and a book club that meets monthly. They’re also always on the lookout for volunteers. Whether or not you attend worship services at the American Church in Paris, you’re welcome to partake in the yoga, karate, or Scottish dancing classes they offer, among others.
Gael Sagueton
  • If you’re in Paris to get away from your fellow Americans, try the Expatriate Party – a social group for ex-pats from all over the world. They put together events such as Cinema Night, Zoo Day, Karaoke and a Sunday morning run.
  • For more ideas, check out other ex-pat sites like AngloInfo Paris.
Gael Sagueton

Clearly, opportunities for mixing and mingling with locals and expats abound in Paris. If this list just filled your Paris agenda with a little too much activity, remember that there’s also nothing more Parisian than leaving room for the unexpected, as you sip an espresso on your local café terrace… Who knows what might happen!

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Written by Nicole Gustin for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Nicole Gustin

Nicole Gustin has a French soul in an American body. A former newspaper journalist, she is also a lifelong writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and essays. She has called both Boston and Atlanta home, and keeps returning to Paris until she can settle there permanently.


  1. Volare, that’s awesome! I’m sure you’ll feel right at home in Paris. Definitely go for it!

  2. Thanks for the optimistic look at living in Paris for a month. I’ve wanted to revisit Paris at age 67 to see if it matches the enjoyment I had when I was 27. This gives me hope! I think I will enjoy them……what will they think of me?

  3. Wow, some great suggestions!

    @Candice, I always hear people say they don’t want to meet any other ex-pats while they’re in Paris. I completely understand the sentiment. But I’ve found it’s best not to rule that out. The more people you meet, the more people they introduce you to.

    I have met many French people through other Americans, and I have made friends with people from Brazil, Spain, Belgium, and of course, France! None of them complained about Paris or pined for home.

    What do you have to lose, really?

  4. Don’t discount the power of Twitter. It’s a great way to connect with expats and Parisians alike before and during your stay.

  5. If I were staying in Paris for only a month, I would definitely want to immerse myself in all things French but also, if I were wishing to feel like a “local”, I would do all the things that locals do, go to all the places that locals go to.

    I would skip any ex-pat dinners, considering that they are all Americans/Brits who want to talk about home .. ( been there done that 🙂

    My husband and I are ex-pats and we rarely go out with Americans.

  6. What a wonderful post dahhling! Full of great suggetions & real options… Enjoyed it very mucn.

  7. Hi Nicole
    Thanks for mentioning our mini network 🙂 (expatriateparty), we hope you’ve enjoyed some of our events in the past and look forward to meeting you in the future.

    15% of our members are Americans in Paris 😉

  8. These are great ideas! (Jim Haynes’s apartment, for 50, is small??) I think there’s also something to be said for becoming a regular at a local cafe… you might not make a new friend, but the servers will certainly come to recognize you and treat you like a local…

  9. Thanks for writing this piece! I’m actually going in May to spend a month while my boyfriend works, then possibly move after. Interesting links that I haven’t found before, thanks again!

  10. Oh yeah, I will do this someday. During my last trip to Paris, I had a conversation with an older gentleman while having tea in a cafe.

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