Tourists who want to see more of Paris than just the classic city centre sites are being invited to take trips to some of the city's more notorious suburbs.

"/> Tourists who want to see more of Paris than just the classic city centre sites are being invited to take trips to some of the city's more notorious suburbs.

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TOURISM

Paris riot suburb turns tourist attraction

Tourists who want to see more of Paris than just the classic city centre sites are being invited to take trips to some of the city's more notorious suburbs.

A group of ‘greeters’ has been set up in Seine-Saint-Denis, made up of locals who are willing to show tourists around their areas.

Seine-Saint-Denis sits to the north of Paris and is home to 1.5 million people. It has one of the greatest concentrations of immigrants in France.

It is also well known as the place where the death of two youths in the autumn of 2005 sparked nationwide riots that lasted several weeks.

However, locals are keen to shake off this image and point out many of the area’s attractions, including the home of the 1998 World Cup final, the Stade de France, and the 12th century Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis.

“There shouldn’t be this barrier between a Paris that is magnificent and the suburbs which are not,” said Michel Moisan, a 59-year old former pharmaceutical worker who has been giving tours for a year.

Newspaper 20 Minutes spoke to two American tourists, Jane and Michaël Gessner from Arizona. 

“When we told the concierge at our hotel where we were going, he said ‘don’t go to the suburbs, they’re dangerous’!” said Jane. “But look, it’s great.”

“It’s completely different to what we’ve seen in Paris,” said Michael, who said he was impressed by the “diversity of the people.”

Hélène Sallet-Lavorel works for Tourisme 93 which promotes the area and said the area has already received around 50 visits, mostly from foreign tourists. 

“The greeters show the area as it really is. It’s not just an area of high unemployment or the place where the riots happened. The people who live here are much more positive and are proud of their town and their area,” she said.

The organization Parisien d’un Jour, which has 240 greeters in total, hopes to extend its tours to other suburbs of the city.

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TOURISM

Tourism minister: Book your French ski holiday now

France’s ski resorts will be open for business this winter, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has promised - but no decision has yet been taken on whether a health pass will be required to use ski lifts.

Skiers at a French Alpine resort
Photo: Philippe Desmazes / AFP

“This winter, it’s open, the resorts are open,” Lemoyne told France 2’s 4 Vérités programme.

“Compared to last year, we have the vaccine,” he said, adding that he would “invite those who have not yet done so to [book], because … there will soon be no more room.”

And he promised an answer ‘in the next few days’ to the question of whether health passes would be required for winter holidaymakers to use ski lifts. “Discussions are underway with the professionals,” he said.

The stakes are high: the closure of ski lifts last winter cost manufacturers and ski shops nearly a billion euros. 

This year ski lifts will remain open, but a health pass may be necessary to access them. The health pass is already compulsory for après ski activities such as visits to bars, cafés and restaurants.

COMPARE The Covid rules in place at ski resorts around Europe

Many town halls and communities which depend on winter sports have found it difficult or impossible to make ends meet.

“It’s time for the French mountains to revive,” Lemoyne said, pointing to the fact that the government has provided “more than €6 billion” in aid to the sector.

Winter tourism professionals, however, have said that they are struggling to recruit for the winter season.

“Restaurant and bars are very affected,” by the recruitment crisis, one expert told Franceinfo, blaming a lack of urgency from authorities towards the winter holiday industry.

“We are all asking ourselves what we should do tomorrow to find full employment in the resort,” the expert added.

Post-Brexit visa and work permit rules mean that ski businesses have found it difficult to recruit Brits for short-term, seasonal positions.

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