Whether you’re traveling alone or looking to add some new flavor to your friends in Paris, joining a Meetup event is a great addition to any trip or girls’ night out.
You may have heard of Meetup or even attended one of its local events in your town, as it’s a global group that encourages people to come together over shared interests and connect in their communities. Meetup is currently in 45,000 cities, with over 9 million members, and Paris has a large and active chapter.
Getting started is easy. Go to the Meetup website and type in one of your interests, along with your Paris location, and out will come a plethora of options. If you miss your book club at home and have been dying to talk about the latest Parisian best seller, then join Paris Anglophone to share your favorite moments. Or jump into a neighborhood tour or visit an art exhibition with fellow culture seekers through the Paris Museum Group. You can learn a language, take a day trip or even train with others for your next marathon with a Meetup group. And if you don’t see your favorite basket-weaving activity listed, start your own group and find other weavers nearby.
As a recent transplant to Paris, I’ve used Meetup a few times to meet new people in town, as well as to indulge in some of my passions, like wine tasting and fine dining. The first Meetup gathering I attended was when I was in Paris during the Fourth of July holiday, looking for my first apartment. I felt a little displaced, knowing that all my friends at home would be firing up the grill and watching fireworks, while I’d be eating foie gras alone in a bistro. Meetup to the rescue, as I learned the American Expats were having a Fourth of July BBQ and kickball Meetup party at the Bois de Boulogne. Viva red, white and blue! I found the American flag in the park, and with it, many friendly Americans and a smattering of Europeans intrigued by our love of the grill. In seconds, someone welcomed me on a blanket, another was sharing a baguette and a third was pouring my glass full of rosé. Some of the people I met that day are still friends of mine in Paris with whom I’ve now shared many a baguette and glass of wine.
I also attended a Meetup focusing on wine, where I walked in alone and walked out with some new friends, as well as some new wine knowledge. One of the guys I met at the event was traveling through Paris for a few days and thought this would be a good place to meet some locals, and he ended up leaving with a pack of Frenchmen to hit the bars. There are many social groups on Meetup, and Internationals in Paris tops the list at nearly 5,000 members, with a nice mix of nationalities and ages, who enjoy some clubbing and martinis and also networking with people from all over the world.
You will never have to eat or drink alone with one of the many dining or wine-tasting groups, but be sure to RSVP quickly to events, as there’s often limited space, and it’s first come, first served. Once you join your favorite group, you’re then added to its mailing list, so you’ll be the first to know about the great table it just reserved at that restaurant you haven’t been able to get into.
Some events are free, and some include a fee, especially if you’re attending an event or museum or dining in a restaurant, but no one is out to make millions on you. The goal is to have like-minded people come together to meet, learn and make new friends.
Editor’s note: Check out our new iPhone apps. They package our walking tours and are a great value.