Being a tourist is tough. Especially in a city where you're trying to look cool. When I see someone holding up a closed umbrella to make sure the mass of bum bag obsessed, oversized camera holding, University of Wherever I Am From t-shirt wearing bodies don't loose their way, my heart sinks. I'm all for learning about the place you are in...in fact, I would encourage you to go out of your way to go outside your comfort zone on your travels. But I would promote immersion rather than just being a stand out tourist. The brilliant news is that my prayers have been answered by a group called Soundwalk who have taken over not just Paris but cities all over the world. It's a bit of an individual event but also allows you to take a tour without anyone around you knowing what you're up to. So bloody clever.
Soundwalk is a one hour tour of chosen Parisian neighborhoods that you can download onto your Mp3 player (for 99 cents each) and take part in whenever you have the time. That' right, 'take part'. The audio tours are not your typical 'monument here, famous thing happened here' guides but an interactive story that takes you through each 'hood in a very unique way. For the Marais tour, you'll have a coffee at a local cafe while Isild, a singer/actress, introduces herself and her neighborhood to you before you embark on a tour to find her lost Walkman, stopping along the way to peek into courtyards and learn about special restaurants, shops and monuments that you may otherwise walk by. Paris tours include the Marais, Belleville, Palais Royale, Pigalle and St. Germain des Pres.
Learn more and download at www.soundwalk.com. Other city tours include NYC, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Ibiza, Varanasi and even running tours of Berlin, London, NYC and Paris...almost makes me want to put my sneakers on and hit the dusty trail. Almost.
Also, check out my guest post at Paris Cheapskate where I talk about Soundwalk and my other cheap (but super fun) finds!