French connection: Now you can dial ‘a random’ person in France (POLL)

© Christian Hartmann
Destination France has now its own phone number. The French have come up with an initiative to promote their homeland (as if it needs promoting, ooh la la) and established The French Number, which connects you to a ‘random French’ person.

Wait, what?

The , launched on September 15, lets people from all over the globe “dial France” using the general number +33 176 498 498 and get connected via a switchboard to a random French volunteer somewhere in France for the price of an international call. 

There's no better way to talk about France than speaking with a French person,” Marc Baillet, co-founder of the initiative, .

[We came up with the initiative with] the desire to create a link between France and the world and tackle the decline in tourism which France has been  experiencing in recent months, especially following the terrorist attacks,” Baillet explains.

The group behind The French Number say that the best part of their idea is that the French people registered as ‘ambassadors’ within their network will help the callers discover not only France as we know it from movies and clichés, but also their France, with everything that’s hidden from tourists’ eyes, enjoying a “more cordial experience with our homeland through direct contact with French people.

After a pre-launch in July, The French Number already has some 1,800 ambassadors. The variety of subjects the group’s website suggests are learning French, politics, fashion, sailing in Bretagne, snails as food, croissants, French wine, civil rights and even personal relations. Or maybe you simply want someone to talk to – The French Number will allow you to do it in English.

Since the launch date, people have already ‘dialed France’ 443 times from 29 different countries, including Japan, Australia, UK and the US. France itself has been dialing, with 36 percent of the calls made from French numbers.

The group promises the callers anonymity and says their private numbers are never shared with ambassadors. Calls however may be recorded so that the callers can have an opportunity to listen to their conversations again.

The French Number follows a similar service launched in Sweden earlier this year. Organizers say they hope the initiative will catch on and expect some 80,000 people calling by December.

For now, though, what would you discuss with France?