Claire FOLIOT GUICHARD is originally from Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and after having travelled a great deal, she wanted to share this passion for discovery and sharing with the launch of the internet site www.madamechapeau.com
FIER SPM: Claire, you created the community website www.madamechapeau.com, could you explain the concept?
CG: It’s a free website based on reciprocity and the economy of sharing. The aim is to connect women who wish to travel with other women who can receive them as guests: via the internet site, they are put in touch and can get to know one another and speak with each other and exchange messages, and if it goes well, then each becomes a « madame chapeau »!
The way it works is somewhat similar to the principle of « greeters » (1) but by going a little further because you welcome a guest into your home; the « madame chapeau » who has the role of hostess shows her guest around her city, dedicates time to her, offers some good tips…
It is not a commitment to spend 100% of the time with your guest but to share your city and offer a place to sleep.
And as it is all about reciprocity, the « madame chapeau » who receives a guest will become a guest herself at another time.
FIER SPM: So you connect women who wish to travel alone but with the security of having someone to welcome them in the destination country?
CG: Yes, that’s it exactly, a woman hosted by a woman, a bit like a trip between friends because they’ll have gotten to know each other beforehand.
The idea came to mind during my various escapades with friends; I realized that it’s not always easy to go on holiday when you’re alone and it’s so nice to share these special moments with friends!
FIER SPM: In concrete terms, when a woman registers on www.madamechapeau.com what happens next?
CG: It’s very simple, you just have to go to the internet site and click on “Join the community”. I then send the internet user an e-mail from “Madame Chapeau” in which I ask for identity papers, documents proving place of residence as well as photos of the proposed accommodation. Sending these images is important so that women registered on the website can see the proposed domestic setting.
The website is very secure, and addresses are obviously not made available online. I manage the interface between the different “madam chapeaus”. If I notice that a profile is not appropriate, I won’t hesitate, I delete it immediately!
Ideally I would prefer people to be recommended by a madame chapeau who is already registered; it is essential that the “madame chapeau” feels confident and safe. Once all of the checks have been carried out, the advertisement can be placed on the internet site.
FIER SPM: The goal is therefore to travel but also, and above all, to create beautiful friendships?!
CG: That’s exactly right, the mix of cultures, exchanging and sharing!
FIER SPM: Is it the fact that you’re from Saint Pierre and Miquelon that gave you a taste for travel…?
CG: I knew the time of great fishing around our islands, the boats in the harbour, the different languages spoken just around the corner… I told myself that there was a world beyond the seas and I wanted to discover it!
The fact that I’m still attached to my archipelago has provided fertile ground for sharing, and I think that growing up in Saint Pierre and Miquelon did indeed give me a taste for adventure.
(1) “Greeters” are volunteers who offer tourists an authentic experience, free of charge, by showing them around the place they live on a walk.
To find out more…