My experiences at WordCamp Europe 2017 in Paris

WordCamp Europe 2017 has ended. The Jetpack swag bag is still lying next to me on my desk as a reminder to store it. I don’t want to. In this post I will tell you about my #WCEU experiences.

Station sign on Rotterdam Central station

Day 1: Travel & sightseeing

After skipping WordCamp Europe 2016 in Vienna, my wife and I decided to come to Paris. We headed to Paris on Wednesday June 14th. We were going at a speed of about 300km/h somehere in the north of France in the Thalys train from Rotterdam (yes the city of WP Meetup Rotterdam) to Paris Nord, when I closed my laptop and decided getting the wifi to work was not going to happen. We got a snack and a drink and soon we arrived at Paris Nord. What we noticed at first was a lot of heavily armed police / army personnel. Which felt a bit weird and not at all comforting.

After leaving the train station, we walked to our hotel and dropped our luggage. It was time to go to the barbershop. You didn’t expect that one did ya? A few days before our journey I wanted to get a haircut, but all shops were fully booked. So, I thought, let’s go to Paris and do it here. But where do I go? I posted this tweet:

After the haircut in ParisAnd just ten minutes later, I received an answer from Benjamin Lupu in which he said I had to go to Les Thermes de Lutèce. Well that was some very good advice. I got a great haircut and a relaxing experience. Here’s me in a cosy place, right before having lunch.

After lunch we walked to the Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries and Place de la Concorde. Followed by the Champs Élysées, Place Charles de Gaulle and of course L’Arc de Triomphe. Yes, that was a nice long walk, and after that we took the metro to our hotel. Time to fresh up an get some dinner. We are used to have dinner around 6-7pm, now it was 9pm, and we just ordered our food. We are getting along fine with the new schedule.

This was one fine day!

WCEU Contributor Day - Opening by Rocio Valdivia

Day 2: Contributor Day & Sightseeing

On Contributor Day I was welcomed on the street near the venue by Wendie Huis in ‘t Veld. You probably know her of her MC role in Track 2 – Eiffel. This was cool. Wendie is a dedicated volunteer on WordCamps (Netherlands and Europe) and it was cool to see she had joined the 2017 WCEU volunteer team. There was small queue in front of the registration desk and I was pulled out by Luca Sartoni. He said he had a crew badge for me. I was positively surprised. Let me explain this.

I joined the organizing team in august 2016 to help with the volunteer team. After 2 months, I could not allocate enough time to be a good organizer. And so I stepped down and decided I would be ‘regular’ attendee in Paris.

Getting the crew badge was a challenge since a few organizers had seen it, but no one knew where it was. I had a deja vu, being a WordCamp organizer I knew there’s always something going wrong with badges. Thanks for looking Taco and Sonja :). Having the crew badge did not give me any privileges. It’s a gentle reminder I tried to be part of this amazing event but couldn’t, because of not being able to combine volunteering/organizing and work related to my own company.

Then I joined the rest of the Contributor Day attendees and listened to the opening remarks by Rocío and all the Contributor Day teamleads. What a great introduction for this important day. I saw lots of hands in the air after the question “Who has never been to a Contributor Day before?” was asked. The more contributors are helping out, the better.

I took a spot in the polyglots room, and talked to a lot of friends. To be honest I only translated about 50 strings…Then I had the idea to go to the Community room, to have a chat with Andrea Middleton about the current status of WordCamp The Netherlands. (you might have read this). The conversation was good and constructive and resulted in some good news. We were allowed to organize a WordCamp The Netherlands again if we have three city-based WordCamps in The Netherlands. Well, consider it done! In a chat with Josepha and Taco we talked through all the details, so we could post this on our team blog.

After all these talks, lunch was needed and since it was in a handy bag so I brought it with me to the metro for an afternoon and evening of sightseeing with my wife. To be complete, we went to the Place de la Bastille, Place des Vosges, Port de l’Arsenal and had dinner in Montmartre.

The opening of WCEU 2017 by Paolo Belcastro and Jenny BeaumontDay 3: Conference day & WordPint meetup by SAVVII

After a simple but good breakfast in the hotel I took the metro (absolutely love these in Paris) to the venue. After the opening remarks, I went to the Eiffel track and listened to Alain Schlesser talking about Demystifying the WordPress Bootstrap Process. Alain managed to make a very technical subject accessible to a broad public. He talked about how WordPress loads, what API, theme and plugin parts are loaded, how the sunrise process for multisite works and how to implement your own caching logic.

The second talk I attended that day was Making Your Voice Heard: How to Win Friends and Influence Policy by Heather Burns. Heather did a very good job in telling the attendees how you can achieve certain goals. If you want something changed, find peers and go reach that goal together. Don’t sit back and send emails, make appointments with influencers / decisionmakers and make your voice heard. I want to share this quote with you:

It is time for the WordPress community to find its voice, fulfill its potential and lead the way as a force for good across the web.

Heather Burns

Between the talks there was plenty of time to talk to friends and make new friends. The latter is very easy, we all have something in common; WordPress. Just step up to someone and start talking.

After lunch there were some very interesting Lightning Talks about Content. I missed them all because of the hallway track which I have attended during the afternoon. How do I know they were interesting? Because I watched them all on In the evening my wife and I had dinner in the Montmartre district and attended WordPint. A very nice event organised by Savvii.

WordCamp Europe 2017 in numbersDay 4: Conference day & After party

The second day of the conference was, as we are used to by now, packed with good presentations. For the morning part, I’d like to emphasize are the talks of Andrew Nacin, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Boone Gorges, Rian Rietveld, and Andrea Middleton. After lunch, Matt was interviewed by Om Malik and presented the possible new WordPress editor ‘Gutenberg‘ to the public. Go and try this plugin and report any issues you have here, since it looks like this is where the WordPress editor is going to.

As a follow up on the post on WPTavern, I contacted Sarah to tell her about the recent developments. Sarah indicated she wanted to do a video-interview with Andrea, Josepha, Luc and me. During the interview Matt walked in, took a peek and gave us a positive nod. You might see our reactions in the resulting video that can be seen here.

By then, it was time for the closure by Paolo and Jenny. Amazingly dedicated organizers and volunteers resulted in amazing numbers for this edition of WordCamp Europe.

After going to the hotel to get some rest and fresh up, my wife and I went to the party. Again by metro. All attendees were instructed not to have dinner before the event, since food was arranged. Well let me say it was, but it could have been done a bit more efficient. This not at all influenced the party, it was good, very good. After three days of conferencing, it’s good to see people partying and relaxing.

Being an attendee this time, I felt a bit more relaxed and ‘free’. I could attend talks, got some extra time in the morning and before the event and had no responsibilities. It felt good. But I think having been an WordCamp (Europe and The Netherlands) organizer infected me, in a positive way, with an organizer-virus. It is so rewarding to see people have fun and connect on an event that you helped co-organize. I am already looking forward to the next challenge.

My tips for you:

  • Add some me-time (or us-time if traveling with your partner/family) to get to know and explore the city.
  • Do not only communicate through apps/tools. Meet people and talk to them.
  • Check out the hallway track and talk to random people.
  • Go to social events outside of the WCEU party, you get the chance to talk to interesting people.
  • Give back when using Open Source Software. Contribute.
  • Go and watch missed talks on
  • Subscribe to the WordCamp Europe 2018 website, so you know when ticket sales start.
  • Oh, and disable your VPN client DNS servers while connecting to the Thalys wifi. That way it will work (so I learned on the way back home) 😉

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