France has been hit by record snowfall this year: it closed the Eiffel Tower and reaped havoc on the Eurostar. What people didn’t anticipate, however, is how the snow would inspire the construction of igloos to offer a cutting-edge solution to help alleviate homelessness.
Paris is the city of dreams, recently hailed as the most elegant city in the world, but there is a darker truth that lurks beneath this stereotype, as Paris has a big problem with homelessness. In fact, so does much of France compared to other European countries.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
However, Geoffroy de Reynal, a French engineer, has ingeniously designed igloo huts to provide shelter for homeless people in France. It might be a strange sight, but it can make a world of difference.
The shelter is made from polyethylene foam and then covered in aluminum foil; this intelligent combination of materials impressively retains heat.
The temperatures inside the igloos are estimated to be 15.5 °C (60 °F) higher than outside. What’s more, the huts are also waterproof.
“Using my resources and the money from the crowd-funding campaign, I built 20 igloo prototypes this winter and distributed 10 in Bordeaux, and 10 additional in Paris,” he said as reported by ABC news.
“I was living abroad in Montenegro for a year, and there are not many people living outside there. When I came back to France, I was surprised by the number of homeless in the streets, so I decided to come up with an idea to help them.”
“I am not trying to replace emergency accommodations,” he argued. “I am just trying to make life a bit less difficult for homeless people. Having one of these igloos does not mean that you are not homeless anymore.”
The most shocking figure released is that an average of 480 homeless people reportedly die on the streets of France every year, though the exact figure is estimated to be six times higher. Paris in particular struggles with this problem much more than other European cities.
There has been a whole wave of new measures introduced across France to combat the problem of homelessness, with igloo shelters being just the latest. The most significant form of action taken came when Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo carried out the city’s first ever homeless census on February 15 this year. It may sound shocking, but the Parisian authorities had never counted the city’s homeless population until this date.
The most surprising turn of events, though, came when two dozen French officials, politicians, and deputy mayors spent a night sleeping outdoors near the Austerlitz train station in -2 °C (28 °F) snowy weather. The aim was to demonstrate an act of solidarity with the homeless people of Paris, and call attention to their growing population.
They walked around the neighborhood and spoke to homeless people in tents near the Austerlitz train station before finding their own spot on the ground, nestling into their sleeping bags for the night.
In 2017, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, boldly pledged that rough-sleeping would become a problem of the past by the end of the year.
And yet, it’s 2018 and homelessness is still a widespread issue, with the ambitious vision of streets free of people sleeping rough yet to take shape. “We’ve failed there,” Macron was forced to admit recently. Hopefully, at least with these new shelters, living conditions will be temporarily improved, while the real problem remains to be addressed.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.