French is not only the language of love, it's the language of food: chef, menu, gourmet, cuisine... the words are so familiar to us in English that we barely stop to think that we've borrowed them from another language. But the fact that all these food-oriented terms have come to us from French gives an indication of the importance of food and cookery in the Gallic culture. No doubt, then, if you're planning a trip to France, you'll be planning to sample the country's fine cuisine in situ. And 'Voulez Vous Dîner' gives you a chance to do so in the authentic setting of a Parisian home.
A true travel experience isn't just about sight-seeing and ticking off the monuments from the list in the guidebook: it's about seeing new places, trying new things, sampling new dishes and meeting new people. And it's the local people who can really bring us closer to a culture. Usually, though, it's difficult to get a close view of how the locals live: we don't tend to see inside their houses, we don't often have the chance to share a bottle of wine and a meal with someone who can give us a genuine insight into the place we are visiting.
'Voulez-vous dîner' might sound a bit like a corny chat-up line, but it is in fact an invitation to get closer to Parisian culture, to visit the home of a local host and enjoy a typical gourmet dinner prepared and cooked there in a relaxed atmosphere of cultural and linguistic exchange. The menu, which is likely to include local specialities, consists of a starter, main course and dessert, plus drinks.
The initiative is a kind of private club, whose host members are carefully vetted according to strict criteria: they are themselves open-minded travellers, some of them multi-lingual, who live in typical houses in Paris or the nearby suburbs, and they are all happy to welcome guests from other cultures into their homes. Participants are classified according to their interests and professions, ensuring that hosts and guests have shared interests to discuss as well as the enjoyable experience of a relaxed meal in this country where food is such an important element of the culture.