The savvy traveller’s guide to the sharing economy in France – harness its power

Travel in France - Guide to the sharing economy - MyFRenchLife.orgThere are so many places you could be saving money when you travel in France. It’s hard to know when to splurge and when to save, but some savvy thinking can leave you with more left over the spend on the things that count. 

But the sharing economy doesn’t only offer potential to save… It also brings the dream of living like a local one step closer!

We’ve compiled our favourite ways to save and live like a local when in France – harnessing the power of the sharing economy.

1. Accommodation

As we’ve already discovered in our savvy traveller’s guide to accommodation in France, a great option when travelling is to stay with locals. Whether this is renting a room in a house or apartment, or engaging in a house-sitting agreement, nothing beats this accommodation option when it comes to making the most of your French experience.

To find a house to live in, we love sites like Nomador, who offer users the chance to find sitters to look after their homes, as well as a place to stay when they’re on holiday.

Travel in France - nomador - Guide to the sharing economy -

Meanwhile, Knok is targeted more to families, and ensures those complications of travelling as a family group are made all the more easy.

2. Borrowing things

As great as a local’s apartment or home can be, sometimes they just don’t quite have exactly what you need. Where’s the crêpe pan to make the perfectly thin crêpe? Where’s the daypack you need for a hike up in the Rhône Alpes? Or what about an English language novel to read as you soak in the bath?

Whatever it is, Peerby offers a solution which means you don’t have to buy something you are only going to use once. Peerby is a free service where you list what you need, and they will scan your local area until it finds another member who has this object. Within a couple of hours you can have exactly what you are want to borrow, entirely free of charge.

Travel in France - peerby - Guide to the sharing economy -

This service is particularly great for travellers, as we want to be able to pack as lightly as possible!

3. La gastronomie locale

Travel in France - Rachel Khoo Interview - The Little Paris Kitchen 'piping'

While staying in a local house or apartment, why not become the next Rachel Khoo and try your hand at some French cooking?

Cook and Go offers workshops that “cater for people who are not professionals in the kitchen but who want to learn in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere”. Sound like you? These workshops will equip you with the skills to cook your own French menu back in your accommodation and to impress your friends once you return home!

The International Kitchen runs more gourmet cooking classes in France. They cater for every level from beginners to qualified chefs and organise ‘cooking vacations’ tailored to your needs.

If cooking your own food all sounds like too much work, do not despair! There are plenty of opportunities to try homemade French food – outside of expensive restaurants.

Try Cookening or Voulez Vous Dîner to find some local cooks serving up a feast in your area. Locals will register, list a menu, seats available and price per seat and all you have to do is find them. This is particularly perfect if you are travelling by yourself and can’t be bothered cooking something fancy for one person.

Another great thing about attending a dinner party with a whole heap of people you don’t know is the opportunity to speak French. It doesn’t matter if you fumble over your ­de rien and derrière when this is (potentially) a one-off encounter. Alternatively, you might find yourself making some lifelong friends. Either way, you’ll at least get to eat some delicious homemade French cooking.

And you never know: you may love it so much that you want to host your own dinner party!

4. Meeting the French locals

Another great way to meet the French locals is to attend a Franglish night – it even comes recommended by MyFrenchLife’s own Selina Sykes!

Travel in France - Franglish - Selina Sykes - 02.12.13 -

Franglish is an organisation that gets together native English speakers and native French speakers to practice their conversational skills. Usually at a bar, the events work like speed dating where you talk with someone for five minutes before the host rings a bell and you meet someone new.

This is a great opportunity for you to ask locals about their favourite places to visit, eat and drink! It operates in most cities in France – check out their webpage for events each week.

Links and Go is also a fantastic service, connecting you with other people in your area trying to meet new people. Through Links and Go you can try out new bars, spend a day exploring a new area of Paris and go on a weekend trip to the countryside – almost anything really! You can get fabulous advice from past travellers to your area as well as the local knowledge.

5. Travel in France with local knowledge

Good Spot and Vayable provide a new way to find out local knowledge while avoiding any formulaic guided tour. Members of these platforms will post itineraries of tours they run in anything from Parisian architecture of the 16th century to canoeing in the Loire Valley. These tours are generally more affordable and personal than the many that are offered through large companies. You can also directly contact the guide to customise your experience.

For Paris specific activities, check out Parisian Local where they regularly feature different places to visit and activities to do in Paris.

Travel in France - Guide to the sharing economy -

The Global Greeter Network is a similar idea, but it is run by volunteers who love their area so much, they want to show it off! There are a number of places they tour in France including Versailles and Toulouse. The Paris Greeters is also run by volunteers and with many tours and activities in Paris, it is well worth a look.

6. Hiring a car

For those who want to travel in France and explore with the ease of a car, there a number of websites which offer affordable car hire. Hiring a car allows for flexibility as well as spontaneity but can quite often be an expensive venture.

Drivy, Buzz Car and Oui Car work like many owner-direct websites where the owners list their cars, as well as a rental price and users contact them.

Travel in France - drivy -Guide to the sharing economy -

TripnDrive is another great concept that offers affordable car hire, at up to a 60% discounted rate according to their website.

But how does it work?

An owner of a car will leave their car at the airport while they travel, letting it to TripnDrive. A traveller will then rent that same car. The owner will be getting free parking (extremely hard to come across at any airport!) and will be compensated for every kilometre driven by the renter. The car will be fully insured for both the renter and the owner. The service operates out of Aéroport Charles de Gaulle and Orly and so is ideal for most international travellers.

7. Car sharing

Travel in France - Guide to the sharing economy -  - Car sharing

When staying in France, trains are an affordable and social option… If you book them months in advance! If, however you wake up one day and decide that you’d like to spend an overnight in Morvan Forest, trains are far from cheap.

Car-sharing or covoiturage is a fabulous option in this case. Not only is it cheaper than last minute trains or hiring a car, but you can book a journey up to the day before you leave.

Community members of car-share websites list their journeys up to a couple of weeks beforehand and other members can browse and send questions to the drivers. Once you have decided on your journey, you book and pay and the website will then give you the contact details of your driver. You then organise to meet your driver somewhere, and you are on your way!

At the end of the trip, you then give your driver the unique code issued to you upon payment and they plug it in to the website to collect their money. This safety measure means that there is not the same chance of being ripped off by a phony driver.

And for those of us with an environmental conscience, car-sharing helps reduce pollution from car emissions. Plus with the price of petrol being so high in France, there are always plenty of drivers advertising trips, even to rather obscure little villages.

But definitely the best thing about car sharing for us Francophiles is it is the perfect opportunity to practice your French! Often, speaking French can be a daunting experience but when in the car for a couple of hours, even the most timid person will find themselves chatting away.

8. Hiring a boat

For those who will be visiting the seaside on their trip to France, using a boat share website is a great idea. Instead of paying a private company, BoaterFly works like AirBnB: owners make listings of their boats for rent when they themselves are not using them. Alternatively, they may already be doing a trip and advertise space on their boat for this trip.

Travel in France - boaterfly - Guide to the sharing economy -

This can often work out a cheaper option as many direct-owner hire agreements do. Much like the house sitting platform websites, BoaterFly requires extensive information, or a ‘nautical resume’, from each party before making the rental agreement possible.

There is both short term and long term hire available. For example, Yacht Owner Direct suggests a number of short trips from St Tropez to Cannes, along the French Riviera.

9. Finding a space to work in France

For many of us in the MyFrenchLife community, work isn’t just a job – it’s something you are passionate about. Even when on holidays, we can never quite fully leave it behind.

Travel in France -  Guide to the sharing economy -  - York Butter Factory

Especially when staying in France for a longer term holiday, Copass is a great way to find a shared workspace. Currently in France, Copass have members of 96 different work spaces which are ready for other members to move in! Copass offer a number of different payment and benefit structures, so if this is something that interests you, you can really tailor it to suit your needs.

Alternately, if you’re already a member of a coworking space, the Coworking Visa allows you to try out other spaces for a few days – for free!

Have you tried any of these options? Do you have any other tips to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions – please share them in the comments box below!

Last image via the York Butter Factory Facebook page.

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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