Travelers can reserve an Insidr phone online and pick it up at Paris Orly Airport or Charles de Gaulle Airport, or have it mailed to them anywhere in the city. The company was founded by Ben and Nina Forlani, a brother and sister team and Parisian natives. “We didn’t want tourists to Paris to feel like they weren’t getting an authentic perspective of the city because they didn’t know French,” Mr. Forlani said. Rental prices start at five euros a day, and Insidr concierges speak English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese.
A Local Fixer, in Your Pocket
The City Helpline, a mobile app for Apple iPhones and devices running Google’s Android operating system, gives travelers access to a concierge, either via live messaging or by phone, who can help them with a variety of requests. The concierge, for example, can help them find the right bus and bus stop that will take them to the Louvre, recommend a guide who can give them a street art tour, connect them with a an English speaking babysitter and even share a list of restaurants that serve dishes suited to their gluten-free diet. Plus, they can also assist in emergencies such as if a traveler gets sick and needs to see a doctor.
Right now, the concierge service is available Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, but the company has plans to have 24-hour service before the end of the year. A subscription to use the app costs five euros a day. Concierges speak English, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
A Translator at the Theater
Theatre in Paris translates French theater performances into English in 10 playhouses in Paris, including Theatre Mogador, currently showing French productions of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and the musical “Grease,” and Theatre de Ranelagh, currently showing the play “Ruy Blas” by Victor Hugo, “Cyrano de Bergerac” and more. The company placed a projection screen above the stages in these theaters that displays an English translation of the words being spoken on the stage.
Those who buy a ticket through Theatre in Paris are assigned seats that will give them the best vantage point of both the stage and the screen; they’re also met at the theater by a company employee who gives them a program in English. Tickets start at about 25 euros. Carl de Poncins, the app’s founder, said that he came up with the idea for the projection screens because he had an Australian roommate who loved theater but knew little French. “He never used to go to performances because he couldn’t understand what was going on,” he said. “Why should language get in the way of seeing the incredible theater Paris has?”