• France's news in English
You can now dial France and speak to 'a random French'
Photo: The French number

You can now dial France and speak to 'a random French'

Oliver Gee · 19 Sep 2016, 17:49

Published: 19 Sep 2016 17:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Sep 2016 17:49 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
"Hello, bonjour, France speaking!"
"It's not a joke. It's for real..." promises the very French woman in the advert. "It's the first phone number that connects anyone in the world with France."
The French Number, as the initiative has been called, follows a similar service launched in Sweden earlier this year
The idea is that for the price of an international call, people from a selection of 100 countries can "dial France" using the same number - +33 176 498 498 - and they will get connected via a switchboard to a random French volunteer somewhere in France.
"Dial the number and in a matter of minutes, you'll actually be talking to a "f**king French"," she says, before excusing herself with a "pardon my French".
And then it's up to you as a tourist to find out more. A restaurant recommendation? A place to get a view in Paris? Where to go for a weekend? Should I really eat snails?
Those authentic French people on the other end of the line will be hopefully be able to help you.
"The French people registered on The French Number will help you discover not only France, but also their France," promise the group behind the number, start-up Caladrius Media SAS, which is linked to the Atout France tourism board.
The group sad that the idea was to use a voice-to-voice platform to allow France's 85 million tourists a year to "enjoy a more cordial experience with our country through direct contact with French people".
"Gone are the days of reading tourist guides or boring articles, now you can simply ask a true French," the French woman in the video promises.
"There's no better way to learn about France than to ask a French," she says.
And she recommends that all topics can be broached, including the food, the haute couture, the cheese and wine, getting tips for weekend getaways, practicing your French, and even how to catch the eye of a French person. 
Story continues below…
The number was quietly launched in June as organizers recruited a team of 1,500 volunteers (who all say they can speak English), and the product was officially launched on Friday. 
And people have already phoned in from 28 different countries, including Japan, Australia, and the US.
Organizers said they're hoping the scheme will take off to such an extent that 80,000 eager tourists will be calling by December. 
France has suffered from a dramatic fall in tourist numbers after a spate of terror attacks, so perhaps the authorities are hoping the French people themselves can be the ones to entice them back.
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available