Get To Know Sightseeing Guide Fabien D’Amato

Fabien D’Amato of Paris, France, may just be the beholder of one of the world’s most enviable jobs: sightseeing guide in ”the City of Lights.” Besides being a professional chocolate taster or tester of plush mattresses, getting paid to drive tourists around Paris in a funky Citroen 2CV, showcasing the city’s many wonders, including the Sacré Cœur cathedral and Eiffel Tower, is irrefutably a top 10 job worldwide. We caught up with Fabien to learn just how he came to score this awesome job, and, in doing so, we were able to pry into what exactly it’s like to be a Parisian sightseeing tour guide. Bon appétit.
For those of us interested in copying you and becoming Parisian tour guides, wink wink, could you tell us how you got into the field?

For one, you can rest assured it’s actually possible: I simply started out as an intern while I was at university. What ultimately helped me to turn the internship into a full-time job was having the passion. That’s the secret sauce. And that passion stems from a bottomless love for Paris and for people, and ultimately uniting both.

Did you always know you wanted to guide in Paris or are you drawn to other cities too?

I was born and raised in Paris, so I’m deeply connected with the city, and it’s this connection that keeps me here. I know the city’s every nook and cranny, and I like that; it helps me be the best sightseeing tour guide possible. That said, I would have no problem guiding elsewhere; each city is majestic, and I can find happiness wherever I can guide.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I wake up, fill my 2CV car with guests, take a spectacular journey around beautiful Paris, and then return back, putting the car to bed for the night. It’s as simple as that. And fun too!

Have you got a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?

I cater each trip to my clients, so my style depends on their preferences. Tailor-made trips tend to be the most successful, after all. When my clients thirst for history, I dive into Paris’s rich past, and when they just want to chat with a local, I let them do that too. The end result is total satisfaction across the board.

What is the best part of your job?

I feel fantastic when my clients thank me; this means they’ve enjoyed their time, and my ultimate goal is to create happiness.

Why, in your opinion, does Paris make for an excellent place to guide, as well as take a guided tour?

Paris is a museum-city: it has a massive amount of fascinating history, and there are historical monuments, buildings, statues, you name it everywhere. No corner in Paris is boring. The city is brimming with stories to tell and beauty to marvel. Even the street signs are charming.

What’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had on a guided tour?

Unfortunately for them, once two guests thought they had been recording the tour for two hours, only to realize when we were saying our goodbyes the camera had been off the whole time. Such a bummer; I suppose committing it to memory will have to do, and sometimes that’s actually best.

Ever had any odd requests from clients?

Just where to buy marijuana, which, if you’re expecting questions like where to buy the best baguette, can come as quite a surprise…

As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain to our readers what the benefits of hiring a guide are?

One of the main benefits is that guides are locals, so we have first-hand experience, and this unique knowledge is priceless.

Tell us something about your area/activity that only a guide would know.

In all honesty, guides do not have secrets, just more information than tourists!

Is driving your favorite means of getting around Paris?

Driving is a good way to cover a huge part of Paris within a few hours, and being driven in Paris is an experience in itself. Like being a driver in any city, you have to be skilled and extremely alert, but Paris is much more car-friendly than the likes of Italy or Bamako, for example! If you don’t like cars, walking tours are good, but they’re not quite as efficient. I want to show my guests as much of this city as possible. That’s bang for your buck!

What are your top 3 things about Paris?

  1. Visiting Grand Palais,
  2. Staying at Sacré Coeur for the night
  3. The Haussmannian architecture
What are your least favorite things about Paris?

The air pollution!

If you were to go out for your favorite meal in Paris, where would you go, and what would you eat?

I like small, off-the-beaten-path restaurants, so I’d go to one of those. I like that you know your food is being prepared on-site and that much attention is being put into each dish. I also most enjoy trying new things, so whatever on the menu is new I’ll order!

In your view, what makes a good tour guide?

A good guide is one who triggers positive emotions in the clients. This means that he or she must be emotionally intelligent, and very open-minded too. Daniel Goleman has written great books about being emotionally aware, and I highly recommend them to everyone; after all, everyone deals with human relations.

And finally, have you got any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?

I enjoy selling people what they need, no more, no less. In turn, I’d tell them to determine first what exactly they are looking for and then find the right person. In Paris, they will find someone. There are guides for everything here; it’s a very “guidable” city!

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