There’s a brand new tourist office in Paris that’s unlike any tourist office you’ve ever seen. Gone are the harried functionaries who don’t speak your language. They have been replaced by a young, hip staff that is only too happy to show you how to use the complimentary tablets and computers that are programmed to assist you in just about any language you can imagine.
Paris Rendez-vous at Hotel de Ville — Photo courtesy of Paige Donner
The cultural space, because it definitely is more than a tourist office, opened just last April, and it’s located on the BHV side (that’s the big department store) of Hotel de Ville at 29 rue de Rivoli. There’s a huge billboard of a man with dancing feet that announces the entrance currently, but even so, you’d be hard-pressed to miss this one if you walked by. Which is to say, a better marked, more central Paris location does not exist.
Security is set up at the entrance and scans your bags, backpacks and any camera gear you have with you. Once inside, off to the right is the spacious art gallery and exhibition room, which right now is displaying the whimsical and very playful imaginings of fictional magazine cover art created under the theme The Parisianer (a play on The New Yorker). The exhibit is worth a stop-in at the new space in and of itself, but it also offers a good excuse to check out the rest of what’s there.
The rest of what’s there includes a wall full of complimentary info books all about what’s on in Paris, what to do with kids in Paris, self-guided walking tours in Paris and lots more. This information complements the wealth at your fingertips that is stored on the digital tablets and desktop computers, which are maintained there for tourists’ free use. Yes, they are even Wi-Fi equipped.
Inside Paris Rendez-vous' souvenir shop — Photo courtesy of Paige Donner
To round out the experience, Paris has created a new brand out of itself called the Ville de Paris; they've even emblazoned this logo on a range of super cute souvenirs. In fact, the souvenir shop side of the space will have you exiting with arms full of those little wooden boats that kids and parents play with in the fountains at the Tuileries and Jardins du Luxembourg, little espresso cups with whimsical sketches, aprons, pens, notebooks and so much more that you have to pop in to see for yourself.
Paris Rendez-vous is open Monday to Saturday all year long from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit the the tourist office's official website. (Its Twitter handle is #parisrendezvous.)