While classic ride-sharing brings together drivers and passengers who share a common destination, a new service brings together those who share a common interest in a culture.
The young company Covoiture-Art.com offers “cultural ride-sharing,” a way of taking a daytrip to a monument, museum or heritage site if you need a ride to get there or if you have wheels and would like company.
Still in its infancy, Covoiture-Art.com has yet to reach the critical mass of offer and demand that would ensure frequent connections between drivers and passengers, but it has slowly garnered interest. While drivers and passengers have been signing up around the country, initial interest is greatest in northern France and the Paris regions.
Those sharing a ride may or may not end up visiting a monument at the same rhythm, but a Covoiture-Art destination is more than just a point on the map. Having agreed to take a round-trip together to a cultural destination, there’s likely to be greater bond beyond driver and passenger(s) than with a classic ride-share.
A typical trip is 30 to 90 minutes from the starting point, at a round-trip cost of 6 to 8 euros, more if involving toll roads. Of that, Covoiture-Art.com takes 1.90€, inlcuding tax. Partnerships with some museums and monuments provide reduced-price admission to those arriving via Covoiture-Art.com.
Covoiture-Art was born out of a fortuitous encounter during a classic ride-share. In 2013, Thibault Denis du Péage, a young jurist with a degree in public law, packed up his car to move to Lille from Paris. His luggage left room for one passenger so he offered the seat on a ride-share site and was soon picking up his passenger Adalaïs Choy, a young woman from Lille with plans to enter the Ecole du Louvre.
Getting stuck in heavy traffic turned what would normally be a 2½-hour drive into a 5-hour slog, which might have been more annoying for both of them had it not given them the time to discover their shared interest in starting a company involving in culture. By the time they reached Lille they were ready to partner for an adventure in cultural ride-sharing. They founded Covoiture-Art.com the following year, while continuing to pursue their respective careers.
Denis du Péage anticipates that further investments will increase public awareness of the site and the concept. He says that the site, currently in French only, will soon have an English-language version.
Asked of it could be awkward for both parties if either the driver or the passenger is less than fluent in French, Denis du Péage says, au contraire, that those French who are curious about culture and heritage are often also curious to meet foreigners and happy to share with them the treasures of France.
© Gary Lee Kraut
This article first appeared in The Connexion.