The global nature of slum tourism is yet again observed in a French newspaper article and accompanying film about tourists visiting the Banlieue (impoverished suburbs) around the big cities in France. Unfortunately both publications are in French, so may be sometimes somewhat difficult to follow (google translation). As a short summary, the article discusses how so called ‘Greeters’ assist people in visiting the impoverished suburbs in Paris, Lyon, Nantes and Marseilles or in the Pas-de-Calais. They seem to be from the area and argue they want to promote the area and dispel the prejudices that many tourists and French people may have. Tourists going on the tours say they are seeking the ‘real’ France. Both such arguments to organise to visit the Banlieue are very similar to slum tours elsewhere.
These free walks have existed in Paris for the last 4 years and have met a certain success: 240 ‘Greeters’ have joined the ‘Parisien for a Day’ association, which organised more than 4,500 tours in 2010. It seems the (tourism) department of Seine-Saint-Denis is one of the first official bodies of government that shows interest, although other initiatives are also developing in les Yvelines and Seine-et-Marne. It appears that the tours have originated to a certain extent in the community, although I cannot really grasp from the article how the ‘Parisien for a Day’ organisation works, so if anyone knows more about this, please let us know!