CIWY, the community of Paris’ lovers who show tourists the city of lights as the locals see it, live it and feel it.
Here is Violeta, CIWY Ambassador, converted Parisian and a real fanatic of the French capital to tell us more about the CIWY concept and adventure.
Which type of Parisian are you?
My name is Violeta, I’m 29 and I’m the management assistant.
I would define myself as a Parisian with a keen interest in parties with friends, atypical exhibitions, encounters. I love to stroll during hours in Paris, “à la cool” and to enjoy the out-of-the-way districts and our wonderful monuments.
Paris, for me, it’s like an adopted city, it’s my chosen home. I come from Buenos Aires and it’s like my “Madeleine de Proust”. This city offers me what I need in culture, in exchanges, in meetings with people from universes completely different of mine. Paris, that’s all for me, it’s my cozy corner.
Actually, I have a pretty special story. I moved a lot, I lived in many different countries. And after all those trips, I finally chose my own place: it’s Paris.
What is the link between you and CIWY?
CIWY is for me a great way to meet people who come from a world which often doesn’t match mine. CIWY allows me to learn from others, to get a broader perspective on the world.
For a while, I couldn’t go to the Wednesday’s “Welcome Parties” or to organize my outings, and honestly, I missed a lot those sparring matches, this sharing…
What does “CIWY ambassador” mean for you?
A CIWY Ambassador, it’s the person who is a fanatic of Paris and who has the will to make people, especially tourists, discover the city as he/she sees it. Ambassadors can share their good deals, their favorite places, their crushes… They also can organize outings, free most of the time, to allow the tourists to really discover Paris as a local.
To be Ambassador, you obviously have to share CIWY’s values which are the welcoming, the love for Paris and the sharing.
What made you want to be a CIWY Ambassador?
When I saw the advertisement from CIWY, I immediately thought: “Yes, this is it!”. It matches my philosophy of life, this idea of not closing my mind and staying out of the other ways of thinking. CIWY brings open-mindedness in every field: politics, culture, religion…
One night, I met a guy really special. His ideas were totally opposed to mine. The conversation we had was a true disagreement, but the exchange was very interesting. With CIWY, we feel like citizens of the world, we share ideas, different points of view with our own cultures, and it brings enriching discussions, sometimes even inspiring.
For me, CIWY, it’s being able to swap places with others, understanding that our own links to the world are not always same as the other’s, often in fact, and it’s a kind of open-minding which is very pleasant and constructive to have.
Can you tell us your favorite memory as a CIWY ambassador?
My favorite memory… I think it’s when I was organizer of one of the CIWY outings for the “Nuit Blanche” event.
Within the framework of a partnership with “Nuit Blanche”, I was one of the six Ambassadors who suggested their artistic strolls in CIWY outing. I had a group composed of fifteen people, with, in particular, a couple of Spanish people.
We spent a really nice night. I built a strong relationship with this couple of new friends. They contacted me after to check in on me, to see how I was doing at work… Bottom-line, CIWY, this is it: to give us the opportunity to create strong links with people, which thrive beyond a simple afternoon spent together.
What do you think about the concept of “recommended by the locals” from CIWY?
I think the “recommended by the local” is very important when we travel. Its beyond the massive tourism, it’s the real Paris. It allows forwarding the everyday life of Parisians.
I believe we have to be with locals to truly know the city. We discover many more things than with tourists, without meaning any mean thought of course! (Laughs)
Admittedly, tourism in Paris can be extremely maddening sometimes for a local. But, actually, when we think about it, it’s a part of the beauty of this city!
Tourists are amazed when they arrive in Paris, they want to take pictures everywhere… And they’re right, because it is gorgeous! They remind us the beauty of this city. And if they weren’t there, it would be weird, they really are a part of Paris.
For you, which are the inevitable places that you recommend to your friends when they come to Paris?
Wow… Not easy, really… From Jaurès to République, I could name so many spots that I don’t know which one to pick… I will name several of them because the choice is tough, not kidding.
As a restaurant, I would say “Le Soya”, in the eleventh district. It’s a bio and vegan restaurant. I really like it, it is where a plan to bring my friends who will come soon to Paris to visit, which goes to show!
Then, the art gallery “Art Factory”, rue de Charonne, same district.
And then, for a shopping time, I advise you “Vélan”. No macaroon or French croissant, but products coming from India for recipes to die for! I like it and it’s really cheap.
Your Chinese portrait: if you were…
A Parisian monument: Le Pont Neuf.
A meal: A huge tub of sweat potatoes’ French fries! (Laughs)
A movie: Pina by Wim Wenders (2011)
A celebrity: the Mexican Frida Khalo, artist and painter.
An invention: the pen, I write a lot, and better than I talk by the way! (Laughs)
An art: Literature
Where can we find you in Paris?
In my area, the tenth, rue Saint Maur.
I love my area, I would like to never leave it. The Canal Saint Martin and Belleville, it’s a true Parisian landscape. Families strolling the week-end with their pushchair, the nineteenth the Jewish district, the small shopkeepers, the Arab shops, the Chinese area… In just a few streets, we go round the world!