The upside of being at a conference in a language you only speak a tad bit is that you get to meet and talk to all kind of people that have the same ‘problem’. WordCamp Paris had about 470 visitors, and I’m guessing 440 of them are native French. Don’t get me wrong, I like speaking French with French people, but it usually takes up to two or three days before I can keep up with the speed at which they talk. It’s like WP Rocket on acid. Luckily we ran into Bénard on the evening before the congress. This English-speaking Frenchman is always laughing out loud and that basically set the mood for our days in Paris.
Language barriers are real
Regardless of that we all speak WordPress, language barriers are real at this conference. I was at a sponsor booth. It had a huge bowl of snacks to lure people to their stand, and I walked up and said “So, everybody is coming to your booth for the snacks, right? How’s your WordCamp been so far?” The guy frowned and shrugged, looked at his shrugging colleague and I simply decided to walk to the next booth, with our friends Val and Joško of Sucuri. Very nice meeting the two of you!
The thing is, that we foreigners try to blend in anyway. We make it easy for the inhabitants of the country we are visiting. But we do like to talk to others that speak a language we do as well. And these conversations might be even more useful. We had a great lunch with Chris, talking about (WordPress) business. We hang out with Rarst to talk about plugin development, shitty bug reports and more. We talked about WordCamp Torino with Francesca and talked to Petya about WordCamps and WordPress in general. We caught up with a lot of people, which in the end is equally valuable to listening to all the talks.
Hanging out with other travellers
Friday evening we had a nice walk and dined in a very small, family-run restaurant called Le Cévennes. Robert and Heinz from Inpsyde joined Rarst, Taco and me and we had a really nice time talking about France, about home and WordPress in Germany.
We joined the rest of WordCamp Paris at the party boat where the after party was. We had a nice conversation with Caspar who works at WP Media these days, for instance. We briefly met James from Ireland. We obviously had a beer with the always friendly Kristof from Belgium, and yes, Kasia, WordCamp Poland sounds like a blast ;-) WordCamp is about the people.
Drupal meets WordPress
On Saturday, we tried our best to understand the first talk by Claire Bizingre about accessibility, as Taco and both value the subject. You never know what a talk like that will bring, even at 9 in the morning. Claire pointed us to some automatic testing tools like Opquast Desktop and aXe DevTools. Although we sometimes had a hard time keeping up with the French words, luckily most slides told her story on their own. You don’t always need to talk to understand each other.
Later on we met the very enthusiastic Léon Cros, who just did a talk about Drupal, and we talked about Open Source and why a Drupal guy was attending WordCamp Paris. He actually just felt like attending a WordCamp, found out they were having one at a ten minutes walk from his home in Lyon, attended and got asked to talk at WordCamp Paris. We discussed similarities in the communities and how we can learn from each other.
Right before lunch, we ended up at the Jetpack booth, talking to Cécile Rainon and the others of Jetpack. It seems our plugin is the number one requested plugin for WordPress.com. It only seems logical. WordPress.com is packed with a lot of all the other good stuff website owners need, and we’re in a high demand niche. It makes sense, as we offer an all-in-one SEO solution. Nevertheless, it was very nice to hear.
Paris, je t’aime
That pretty much rounds it up. We ended WordCamp Paris by joining a lot of the people mentioned above for a nice dinner and drinks and strolled back to the hotel for a good night sleep. We had a nice breakfast with Val en Joško in our hotel Eiffel Seine the next day and took the Thalys back to the Netherlands, where I’m wrapping up this post.
Bottom line: nous parlons WordPress. We obviously don’t speak the same language all the time, but just being here, talking to loads of people, making new friends, made WordCamp Paris 2016 very valuable to me.