Last week I got to see another side of Paris with Carole Fleurival of Voyageur Noir Connection, a private tour company specializing in "The Local Life Experience for Black Travelers". The African-French locals guide their clients through the city’s shopping, dining and nightlife spots with a focus on black cultures of all origins in Paris. That’s Carole in the photo on the left (in white) with the jewelry créatrice for Divinéa.
An Afro-Parisian resident (via Guadéloupe), she realized that it was her connection with people that made her travels worthwhile. She got the idea for Voyageur Noir tours when she met a U.S. reporter in France who was anxious to discover black Paris. Carole now offers off-the-beaten path shopping tours and cooking classes in her own kitchen, and even arranges dinners for clients with locals — just like having dinner with a group of new friends eager to share what they love best about France.
Even though I’ve been here for ten years, Carole showed me some amazing little shops and fashion boutiques I had never visited before. She knows when all of the private showroom sales and designer trunk shows take place, and can even introduce you to many of the city’s black couture and prête-à-porter designers in person such as Sadio Bee, June, the artist Arnaud Pontier, and turban designer Fredérique Gentil Debaz (photo on the right).
Carole is my favorite kind of guide — after the first hour you forget she’s a guide and just start thinking of her as your own friend who knows all of the best addresses in town. Her English is perfect, and her tours are open to anyone interested in black culture. You can also purchase tour certificate as gifts for friends. The holidays are coming!
Just off the Rue Montorgueil is a little African publisher’s bookshop and gallery, ANIBWE (52 rue Greneta, 2nd). The owner Kassi Assemian has classic and contemporary books about all aspects of African culture, and a larger room in the back includes magazines, CDs, DVDs and regular art expositions. A great place to browse!
Owner: Carole Fleurival
Tel +33 160 040 163 (3:00 pm to 5:30 pm, NY time)