Choose independently-run hotels over chain and corporate hotels. Better yet, stay in a Parisian Bed & Breakfast to meet the locals, or rent an apartment and live like a local yourself. Untours is an award-winning responsible travel company which organizes flights and apartment rentals in Paris .
Think differently about “standards”. Smaller spaces use less resources to heat, light and clean; air-conditioning isn’t needed if you keep the shutters (or curtains) closed during the hottest time of the day; smaller bath tubs and water-saving shower heads are “environmentally correct”; timed lights in hallways and bathrooms save electricity; you don’t wash your towels and linens daily at home (I hope!), so why do it in a hotel? Put out the ‘do not disturb’ sign to avoid unnecessary cleanings.
Shop at the markets and independent boutiques rather than super markets, chain stores, or department stores. And do I have to tell you it’s better to eat in family-run bistros and independent cafés than McDonald’s or Starbucks?
Buy a few high-quality, hand-crafted products made in France instead of spending the same amount on a suitcase full of cheap, mass-produced items made in China . Better yet, collect memories and friends instead of manufactured souvenirs.
Take the time to learn and understand. Are there things you find strange or confusing in Paris ? Step out of your comfort zone and make the effort to learn the local etiquette for dining out, how that “Turkish Toilet” works, or what you need to do to get the shop keeper to smile at you.
Be an ambassador for your country. In some cases you may be the only American (or Canadian, Brit, etc.) that a local will ever meet in person, so be sure to represent the best of your country by being open-minded and tactful in dispelling any misunderstandings they might have about your homeland. They may correct a few of your own misconceptions about the French!
Enjoy public transportation and pedestrian-friendly city-strolling. Better yet, rent a bike to cover even more ground — with zero-emissions. Cycling in Paris isn’t as scary as it looks, trust me!
Slow down! I know it’s hard, but try and just sit still for a few hours at a café, a park, or a pedestrian street bench, and watch the world go by. No need to “do” things all of the time, this is your vacation! I’m giving you permission to actually enjoy it. Best of all, you’ll learn more about Paris by watching the people than by staring at art in museums all day. Promise.
Dare to venture into the city’s lesser-known, multi-ethnic neighborhoods. Yes, you might stand out as a tourist, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in neighborhoods where the locals aren’t overrun by them. And before you start thinking about the “danger”, keep in mind that most pick-pocketing happens on the posh Avenue des Champs Elysées. No one’s looking for rich tourists in Belleville ! Just remember to be respectful and always ask before taking photos.
Offset the environmental cost of the carbon emissions from your flight to Paris by purchasing carbon credits from reputable organizations who invest in renewable resources. And as an added encouragement, I will match the carbon credit contributions of all Secrets of Paris tour clients beginning January 2007 . A short-term solution to the issue of climate change, I know, but a step in the right direction!