French travel guide launches for refugees

  • 23/09/2015

The Routard travel guide that has led generations of French travellers through foreign lands has published a special version to help refugees navigate daily life in France.

"The idea was to make a Routard guide using only illustrations, which show problems which may arise in daily situations," said Philippe Gloaguen, the founder of the company who came up with the idea.

Hello, a 96-page guide, is described as a "universal visual dictionary" and is made up of colourful drawings of clothing, places, food and places of worship, allowing non-French speakers to communicate what they need.

And while the language of love is meant to be universal, Routard did not want to take any chances and even included a picture of a man, a woman and a heart that someone could use to make themselves understood.

"We quickly realised that the problem wasn't as much the welcome as the complexity of communication," Gloaguen said.

"Among the Eritreans for example, only one percent speak Arabic and it is nearly impossible to find translators. It is an insane waste of time."

Gloaguen describes his guide as one of several efforts from French people and businesses to help refugees, such as those who have offered to house them or supermarkets who have donated food.

He said he was "ashamed" of the government's "terrible" offer to take 24,000 refugees as floods of desperate people risk their lives to seek a better life in France.

"Sure there is a crisis, difficulties, but it is a question of humanity," Gloaguen said.

The guide, which is free, will not be handed directly to refugees, but will be distributed through associations who help them.