Regina, it’s great to meet you on Skype, with me in Blois and you in Sydney.
Your website, Petite Paris, is an Australian-based specialist booking service with a select network of charming bed & breakfast accommodations in the romance capital, Paris bien sûr!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, on a personal level to start with?
I’m Portuguese, although my family moved to Australia when I was very young so I’m really Australian having grown up and studied here.
I was a late starter as far as travel goes and didn’t begin until 2007 at the age of 27. My initial dream was to see Italy but a little voice said Paris, so that’s where I decided to stay a bit longer.
By chance I stayed in a B&B that I came across on the internet, run by a lovely couple. They welcomed me into their home giving me tips and advice about Paris. This allowed me to get to know Paris more intimately than had I stayed in a regular hotel. It was a rich authentic travel experience. I’d been to lots of other cities in Europe by then but I felt a local connection in Paris.
We stayed in contact for a couple of years and Françoise is now my B&B Partner.
What prompted you to create the Petite Paris website?
Australians aren’t very informed about B&Bs, so we decided to create a website to promote them. Françoise is Parisian and her B&B is in Montmartre.
We have an excellent working relationship. She sources the apartments and promotes them in Paris.
She sets up stands at trade fairs, invites prospects and talks to them about our B&Bs. We are constantly getting new ones – five last month – and have gone from ten to 85 in just a couple of years.
Most of the B&B owners want to get to know travellers and share their daily lives. Some offer cooking lessons, others language lessons. Many take their guests on local walking tours. A lot of our guests return saying they want to go back to their B&B when they return to Paris and that they wouldn’t stay anywhere else. It’s very affirming
Where does the name ‘Petite Paris’ come from?
It came about after many weeks of scrutinising. I wanted it to be short and sweet and to capture ‘my’ Paris perfectly. One afternoon I was at Palace Cinemas in Leichhardt, Sydney with a friend, watching a movie during the French Film Festival, and in the opening credits the word Petite came up on the screen.
My friend and I Iooked at each other as though we’d just made a grand but obvious discovery and both said “That’s it”. Everywhere you look in Paris is the word ‘petite‘ and returning guests say they now understand why it’s Petite. It’s my little Paris.
Read more about ‘Petite Paris’ in part 2…
Image credits: Yoko Sakamaki.