French Ben

Ben reveals how an open-request on CouchSurfing led to him having the greatest weekends in Quebec celebrating the St Jean Baptiste holiday

With plans to CouchSurf during a three night stay in the city of Quebec I logged on as usual to discover twelve hundred registered users who could possibly host me whilst I was in town...

But instead of going through a handful of profiles like normal and selecting those I feel would be the "best fit" I decided instead to utilise a new feature on the site which allows you to swap roles and have a host find you!

So ten minutes after logging on I had posted my intentions on the site and whilst waiting for a host to respond accepted there and then that I was leaving my experience of Quebec entirely down to chance with just no idea of what the outcome might be...

...but sure enough less than 24hrs later I received the following message in my inbox:
Salut Ben, 
Did you fond a host yet? If not, I can host you on the 18th to the 21st. I have 4 roommates (3 from France and 1 from Italy) all couchserfers, so there are quite a lot of actions in the house and even that, I still have some room to host people.
I have a question for you, why do you start with Quebec before Montréal? The reason is that on June 23rd thare is the big St-Jean-Baptiste show in Québec city for the national celebration of Québec. Also on the 23rd starts the new FREE show of the Cirque du Soleil. This is unique because since 4 summers we have that free show every night for all summer and it’s free and believe for viewing the 2 last summer shows, it’s really great. Anyway, that is your itinary so you’re the boss! I’m just telling you what is going on on the 23rd. If you want or can change your date, I’m able to host you also those dates. 
So waiting for your answer to my host offer.
Have a nice day, Benoît, the French Ben !
...and that was that because two weeks later I arrived in to Quebec destined for what would become a most memorable weekend thanks entirely to the self-claimed "French Ben".
English Ben and French Ben celebrating Quebec's national holiday
From the outset it was clear that Benoit resembled everything that is great about CouchSurfing and having hosted over 200 people in the last three years alone I think it is fair to say that Benoit is a bit of a pro. But if you're anything like me you are probably sat there wondering what sort of person opens up their home and life this often without on the face of it receiving anything in return - that is other than now having 200 different locations around the World that are now open to you with people to visit and a place to sleep!

So Benoit hinted in his email to me of a few things going on in Quebec during the weekend I was visiting - how did it all shape up? Well after being introduced to some of the other people also CouchSurfing at Benoits that weekend we spent the first evening drinking beer and eating from the BBQ before heading off to "la fête nationale du Québec". 
Great beer, great food and above all great company
And what an incredible night that turned out to be. For beyond the music, the beer and the people, what I enjoyed most was hearing all about Quebec's history and learning in particular about the differences in opinions that people have this side of the Ottawa River. For whilst I realised I was still in Canada the whole city felt very much like an independent nation with differences that spanned way beyond that of the spoken language.

I did shoot another short video from the fete which you can view here

And that really was only the start of what would turn out to be one the best weekends I have had since arriving in Canada.

We hiked the highest waterfall in Canada (Montmorency Falls), swam in the Saint Lawrence river, toured the city inside and out and come my final night in Quebec went along to the opening night of Cirque du Soleil - an amazing hour long circus production, complete with acrobatics right beneath the Dufferin-Montmorency highway overpass - it was breath taking.
Chance delivered me an incredible host and above all a new friend - Can't complain with that now can we?
So yes, Benoit may have hosted more than 200 like-minded CouchSurfers before me but what was so incredible about my weekend was that it felt like I was his first and only.

But what did Benoit think of it all? 
"Ahhh Ben, I miss you already! This guy was so funny. I will keep in mind his typical laugh and smile. It was so kewl to hang out with hiim. As I hosted him I also hosted other CS [CouchSurfers] and all of them just got together like old friends. It was for me kind of an emotive moment to bring him, a british guy, to the show of the St-Jean-Baptiste national Quebec day. We were teasing each other about french/english/british situations. You can trust this guy and you can be sure to have a great time with him as well. LEt me know when you'll be back to England, so I will give a visit to my Duke of Kent!"