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older solo traveler going to Paris

I'm going to Paris for a week the end of September. I friend sent me an email telling me very negative things about traveling to Paris starting with the "awful" CDG airport to unfriendly and surly Parisians and foreign men with nefarious ideas. Is it really like this? This is very unsettling. In addition, could you tell me the best way to get from the airport to La Marais?

Posted by
8293 posts

How nice of your friend to rain on your parade! You will be able upon your return to tell your friend that everything she/he told you was wrong.

Take a taxi to your hotel. 50 euro flat rate, no tip required. You will be tired so be kind to yourself.

PS. While you are in Paris be sure to email that friend about how wonderful everything is.

Posted by
8841 posts

In addition, could you tell me the best way to get from the airport to La Marais?

A taxi from the Official taxi stand.

I suspect the number of men with 'nefarious ideas' in Paris is on par with any city of similar size.

Posted by
364 posts

If you are going to be there for a week, depending when you arrive, a Navigo D pass may be the best option.

https://parisbytrain.com/paris-train-metro-week-pass-navigo-decouverte/

It is very easy to get to Paris by train- its called the RER B.

In Paris the RER acts as an express underground or subway train. Beyond Paris city centre, the Paris RER is a ground level commuter train connecting outlying suburbs and popular destinations such as CDG Airport (RER B), Disneyland Paris (RER A) and Versailles (RER C) to the heart of Paris.

Make a copy of your drivers license picture and bring it with you- the Navigo D card is good for reloading for 10 years, and you can purchase inside the CDG airport- the card is very efficient for using public transport in Paris, and is valid Mon- Sunday- however depending on your arrival ( if your arriving on a Fri the card will not be valid until Mon). Do your research to see if its a good option for you.

Posted by
8293 posts

candy
Two websites that will help you are
tomsguidetoparis.com and parisbytrain.com

Posted by
364 posts

As a solo traveller- you should always be aware of your surroundings, whether its Paris, London, Rome, or NYC. Keep valuables close, dont fall for the tricks of petition signing, ring dropping, or any other such nonsense where people try to distract you so they can take your belongings. Paris is a wonderful city, and the people are very nice- they expect a “Bonjour” when entering a shop or restaurant, and a “Merci” common courtesy and respect. There are bad apples wherever you go in the world- but that should not discourage you from having a great trip.

Posted by
8 posts

Dear Candyb, I think your friend is not being helpful. Yes CDG is a big airport with tons of people, but not unlike any other in the world, that I have seen. I have been to Paris about 20 times in the last 20 years so I do have some experience.
You will love it if you understand a few things:
ALWAYS say BonJour when you begin a conversation, even at a reception desk or when asking directions, anything. It is the custom and considered impolite not to do so. I have found that if you are polite, you are treated politely. Not to say that you will never run across someone who is abrupt or rude, but Paris is really no different that any other large city with millions of tourists.
For your first trip and traveling alone I would suggest arranging for a driver to meet you at the airport and take you to the hotel. Many hotels can arrange this for you. Check with yours.
Also if you are going to be alone the entire week, maybe arrange for some guided tours. Small group tours can be quite affordable and most will give you more insight into the venue that you are touring than you can get on your own.
I hope you have a wonderful trip.
My husband has a wonderful quote that seems appropriate. (Don’t know the origins)
“You won’t find Paris if you don’t take Paris with you.”
Best of luck.
Sue

Posted by
2143 posts

Candy,
Are you sure this person is a friend? That being said, as someone just suggested, taking small group tours is a good way to connect with people and learn something about Paris at the same time. I highly recommend Paris Walks for this, their guides are friendly, knowledgeable and personable. Paris-Walks.com. A variety of interesting itineraries and stories about people and events in Paris.

Yes, CDG is a tremendously big, busy airport but find a taxi, an official taxi, and write the hotel address on a card to show the driver. You might ask your hotel to send a car to pick you up at CDG. Sometimes it is worth the money to have peace of mind. After a an overnight flight you will be jet lagged.

Have a wonderful time, Paris is waiting for you!

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks everyone for your comments and support. What is an "official taxi"? How will I know?
Candy

Posted by
847 posts

Obviously your friend is either just a rather nasty person or they had a bad experience when traveling to Paris. Several things will influence how you do on this trip.

First, have you traveled much, are you familiar with other airports? CDG is big but no worse than other large airports. Just follow the signs, they are all in English and you can find whatever you are looking for (taxi stand, RER, cash machines, etc.). Second, are you familiar with cities and public transportation? Paris is a big city and the public transportation system is also big but it's really very good. But if you have never been on a metro/subway then you probably should take a taxi at least from the airport. But if public transportation doesn't intimidate you, the RER will get you to the city center in the same or even less time than a taxi at one fifth the cost. That's another thing, look at a metro map (just google 'Paris metro map') and see where the stop closest to your hotel is. If it's more than one train change from the RER a taxi is more valuable. The hotels I usually stay in are close to a stop that serves the RER so I would never consider a taxi.

Have you ever traveled alone before? When at home do you do things by yourself sometimes or always with others. I travel solo about a third of the time and while I love traveling with my husband or friends I do really love my solo travel. It's just so freeing, even a really good traveling companion needs to be taken into consideration when deciding what to do and when. Solo it's all about you. Between texting and emailing I never feel lonely or miss those back home. But if you are afraid you might then signing on to a few tours isn't a bad idea. But it certainly isn't necessary for most people.

And in terms of Parisians being unfriendly - that's not true. But it is a big city and people in all cities tend to be involved in their daily routines and don't go out of their way to talk to strangers. In some part of the US people in retail, etc. are what I call 'fake friendly' - you know, the 'have a good day' (when they couldn't really care less what kind of day you are really having). People in most of Europe don't do that. And, as some one above said, know their 'ways' - and in France it is customary to say Bonjoy whenever you enter a small shop, when you start any interaction with anyone for any reason. Once you get used to it, it's really nice.

Posted by
3789 posts

I didn't take a taxi in Paris, so can't answer the 'official' taxi question, but I bet it is somewhere on Rick's France videos or 'Explore Europe' pages.
In my opinion, these days, every airport is 'awful'. The good news is that most airports have maps and videos to help you familiarize yourself.
YouTube will also show you how to get a taxi, take the Metro, get around a neighbourhood....pretty much any question you may have they can show you how to do it.
Every country has something different. If you don't do some homework to help enlighten yourself, then you may get caught with the unexpected. It sounds like that was how your friend saw Paris - unenlightened and unprepared.

Let's be real here. Much of the world's behaviour could be considered 'unfriendly' and 'surly'...but it is really being 'reserved'. The US is overly friendly and overly familiar from many cultures' viewpoints, so be aware of it and don't expect the same. This doesn't mean they aren't friendly when they have had some time to get to know you, but they are more formal about introductions, and not about to chat you up at the bus stop.
They do not have the outgoing customer service that US has. The waiter won't give his name or wait around chatting while you decide what you want. Like many Parisians, he may appear reserved. He does his job but he knows his job well. He will also be waiting for you to indicate you want the bill. A little scribbling on your palm lets him know when you are done. But if you ask him, he'll know best what is good on the menu that day, or what wine pairs with the food.
If you want to pick up some fruit for a snack, don't pick up the fruit :-) Indicate what you want and the stall keeper will choose well for you. Of course, this is different in an actual grocery store.
In a clothing store, definitely say 'bonjour' and 'au revoir' when you enter and leave. Some, smaller boutiques, will also prefer that you don't pick up the folded items. In my limited experience watching my friend who lives part time in France, it is less of a 'window shopping' pick it up, put it down, try it on and leave sort of society.
Learning a few words in French will help and show you are making an effort. If you are stuck and need help, pop into a hotel as the desk folks will most likely know English.
Paris is a beautiful city with so much to see there. If you need a little company, do some walking tours, or some sort of food event. It is a walkable city, but as suggested, some sort of plan for the metro or local transport will save your legs and energy at the end of the day.

Posted by
8293 posts

For an “official” taxi at CDG, follow the “Taxi” signs until you see the queue outside. Pay no attention to anyone offering a taxi as you walk through the airport. Get onto the queue for a legal cab.

Posted by
1176 posts

Sounds like your friend is jealous of you going! Sounds like she is not a very nice friend. I think you should text or email her with photos of how wonderful Paris really is and it is. I have been to Paris several times and it never fails to make me happy and I look forward to returning to Paris. The best museums in the world, the best food and a very pretty city. You will love it. Don't listen to your "friend" and don't be unsettled by her nasty comments. Yes, the Paris airport is a pain, but it's just an airport and you will make your way out of the airport and get to your hotel. Email your hotel and ask them the best way to get to the hotel.

That said, I read everyone's wonderful comments and each advice was spot on. I am sure by now you have bought the RS Paris guide book, planned out your days on what to see and do and get some apps for the metro system. Made reservations for a concert and do go on the Paris walks. I have been on the London walks and this year in Paris I went for the first time on the Paris walks which are all in English! Great way to see the city.

Do watch the free YouTube Rick Steves videos on Paris and look at the RS scrapbooks on this website of people who went on the RS week long Paris tours to see what people saw, did and where they ate.

As long as your organized, planned out your days, have a good guide book and have read it, be mindful as you are in a big city, be polite and say hello and good bye in French, you will have a great time!!!

Posted by
1305 posts

I am an older, solo traveler who has been to Paris many times in the last 35 years. It is my experience that the people in Paris have gotten friendlier over the years. OR, maybe we have both come to realize our cultures are different and try to accommodate that. My French is terrible, but I always practice before a trip to improve my pronunciation and am always careful to speak in a modulated tone, use all the polite phrases with anyone I meet and smile. Oh, and if they have their dog with them, which they often do, I always admire their dog. Last visit (and I go again in October) I found a small bistro near my hotel. The owner had a cat who sat by the cash register. I started going in each day, talking to the owner and his cat. I asked he speak French with me and apologized for my terrible accent. I felt like a regular after that first morning. I would walk in, pet the cat, greet the owner with a friendly "bonjour" and he would bring my coffee right over. He would ask me if this was an "egg day" or a French breakfast day (just a pastry or roll with jam.) It is one of the best memories of my trip. I have never met "foreign men with nefarious ideas" anywhere I have traveled. Big cities are tough, people get tired and cranky, but by and large Paris is no worse than New York or Chicago. I think in part it is one's attitude. I love to travel, I love the UK and Europe, I love dogs and cats. I smile, try to greet people politely in their language and I almost always am greeted the same way. Have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
89 posts

Our experience with the taxi stand at the airport was that it was very simple to find and use. There were signs to the taxi line outside. You get in line and when you get to the front, the worker at the front of the line will show you the taxi for you to get into. We didn’t have to stand there and try and wave down a taxi. It was an organized line with workers to guide you. We had the address of our hotel printed out and gave it to our taxi driver. Like others have said it is a set rate so you don’t have to wonder how much it will cost.

Last year was my first trip to Paris. I fell in love with the city. I felt safe but of course was aware of my surroundings. I think you will have an absolutely lovely time there.

Posted by
1845 posts

Candy,

I see that you are new here. You've received some great advice and some good affirmation.

I just wanted to wish that you have a wonderful trip and express my regrets that your "friend" has you rattled.

Prepare to fall in love! I think it won't take long for you to fall under the magic spell of Paris. You'll find that the logistics are no harder than any other large city.

I've decided that people pretty much get what they expect. If you go in with a friendly, positive attitude (and a smattering of French phrases), you'll find Parisians warm and helpful. At the risk of generalization, I've found the French intuitive people. Just as they will welcome the friendly and polite, they will not tolerate the imperious and rude.

How much travel experience have you had, especially with solo travel? There's plenty of nice folks here more than willing to help out. Let us know about your trip and we'll share what we've learned from our times in Paris.

Posted by
12979 posts

I am an older traveler too, 69 at the moment, have been going to Paris solo and with the Mrs too repeatedly.

Forget the fairy tales and being unsettled. I would totally disregard that friend's e-mail contents, would not deter me from going to Paris again and again one bit.

Yes, you might meet a surly Parisian, I'm sure I've come across at least one but so what? Is there a conclusion to be drawn from such an encounter?

When going solo, I take the RER from CDG to Paris Nord. No taxis from the airport, never did that option.

Posted by
115 posts

As some one else wrote, I think your friend is jealous. Paris is an absolutely wonderful city for a solo female traveler - of any age. I have done it myself. Never have met anyone nefarious LOL . CDG airport isn't any worse than any other big airport. As for getting from CDG to the Marais, I recommend a taxi (from the official taxi rank, of course). While the RER train is less expensive and perhaps a bit quicker, it is also more than I personally care to deal with after a long flight, dealing with my luggage on a crowded train etc.. Not to mention that there could very well be stairs involved in the station(s), and a long walk to your hotel from the nearest station. It's worth the 50-55€ for a taxi. Especially if it is your first time. Be kind to yourself :-)

Posted by
4592 posts

Candy, I laughed out loud when I read what your friend said! All of that negativity must be the reason I can't wait to get back to Paris next week! I'm traveling solo, am over 60 and planning to have a wonderful time. People in any country usually treat people as nice as they are being treated. If you're kind & humble to the French, they are extremely nice.

I always just take the RER train from CDG airport into Paris. A nice website to use is: www.rome2rio.com You can enter any two locations (airport, hotel, museum, etc.) and see what transportation options there are between those two locations. But, if you're nervous, probably better to go with a taxi.

Do you have some fun events planned? If you don't have a Rick Steves guidebook, yet, I would highly recommend the smaller Paris one. The map is a nice size, and there's lots of details specifically for Paris, nice recommendations for walking, etc. Something I love to do is take a cooking class. I took the La Cuisine croissant class a few years ago and have been making them since. In September, I'll be taking their Éclair class.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
6725 posts

We were at a neighborhood potluck in Nashville once having just returned from Paris and one of the old ladies there (I'm one too) started going on about how awful Paris was and how rude everyone was and how she was 'afraid the whole time' and so I just said -- 'oh tell me what happened'. She had traveled with a tour group; she spend the whole time complaining to other people in the group and stoking each others terror at being out of the country apparently; she had virtually no experiences outside her tour group. But she was terrified by how awful the French were.

We have spent months in Paris in blocks of a week to two months and have had very few negative experiences. There was that one rude waiter and one or two unpleasant interactions; about like anyplace. We had rude waiters and unpleasant interactions in Nashville too -- although I will admit since moving to Chicago we have had almost none.

Others have noted the important of 'bon jour' and sil vous plait and merci -- but beyond this English will work if you are patient and good at the occasional pantomime. (plus phones these days have translators so you can get the phrase you need ahead if you need to ask for something in a shop or whatever)

As a person traveling alone, know that dining is perfectly common and acceptable as a single. Make reservations anywhere you like to try and feel fine about it. We always see one or two people dining alone when we do our splurge dining.

There are 'rules' in every culture. IN Paris I have run afoul of rules for queuing in markets, but someone has usually been able to point out what I should do; I have been impatient that the waiter was not bringing me my bill when I was done, not knowing that they don't until you ask for it -- l'addition; I have run afoul of the rule that you don't seat yourself in a restaurant even if there are lots of empty tables -- they are often reserved (it is a good idea to reserve a day ahead for almost any place and more if they are popular; your hotel concierge or clerk can do that for you). So be observant, use the polite greetings and do whatever you want to do. Walking tours, cooking classes, food tours, wine tastings are all ways that someone traveling alone can have a little company along the way.

One thing that is great about Paris compared to most US cities is that it really is safe; you need to be pickpocket proof, international crime families have swarmed the big tourist cities with skilled pickpockets, but personal safety is not an issue in the city. You can ride the metro or be on the streets till quite late at night without concern. It is a pleasure to be able to return home after the opera on the metro and walk blocks to the hotel without fear at midnight.

FWIW. rome2rio often has inaccurate information on transport. Use the local sites or citymapper.

Oh and the end of September is the nicest time of year for Paris. And remember also 'wherever you go, there you are'. I suspect your friend has a miserable time most place because that much fear travels with you.

Posted by
855 posts

First trip Years ago I was at a farmers market and saw a lot of beautiful fruit. I wanted 2 pears, one for today and one for tomorrow.
I picked up a pear and put it back down. The farmer gave me a glare that was scary. He picked it up and cleaned it. I did get 2 and said thank you and he would not speak. When I walked in the small hotel the young man at the counter asked if I found what I wanted and I said yes. He said what's wrong? I told him what happened and he explained about not picking up the produce, let the farmer pick it out for you. Next day I went back to the same stall. He wasn't happy to see me. I said Bonjour again and asked for 2 pears for tomorrow. He smiled and picked out 2 beautiful pears. I said AuRevoir and he smiled again and nodded his head to me.
Boy did I feel successful! I try to pay close attention to the local niceties. It pays off.

Have a Great trip and be thankful that your "friend" doesn't want to travel with you!!
Please send us a trip report when you get home.
Mimi

PS When you get to your hotel and are checking in pick up a card at the desk with their info. It will come in handy in taxis and if you are asking directions back to the hotel.

Posted by
12979 posts

"...he explained about no picking up the produce...." Likewise in Germany but in Germany a sign is among the produce telling/reminding you not to touch, "nicht anfassen !" or "nicht berühen !" You'll see one or the other.

Posted by
6725 posts

One of the great things about markets or greengrocer stalls is that you can ask for a product to have for this evening or for tomorrow and they will select the right one. We eat melons almost every day in Paris and have almost always had a perfect melon when I asked for one 'sur soir' or 'demaine'. Same with other fruit.

Posted by
2002 posts

I'm an older, woman traveler who has lived alone in Paris for a year, and travel there yearly now -- sometimes with friends, sometimes solo. I know the city well and feel comfortable. At no time have I had any trouble with anyone. I try to be observant and blend in with the Parisians - not stick out too much as a tourist. Granted, CDG is a huge airport and has a reputation of being not one of the best in Europe -- but it's necessary to get to Paris, so I deal with it. Just take it easy. Be confident. Follow the signs to taxi and get in the queue. Have the name of your hotel printed out to show the driver.

Do not take taxi or any other transportation from anyone who approaches you in the terminal or away from the taxi line.
As a first time traveler there, I highly suggest you forget what your friend has said. There is excellent travel advice posted here, and of course, the best thing you can do is get a new Rick Steves Paris guidebook and study it well.
Have a great time!

Posted by
84 posts

Hello:) You go girl! Lots of terrific advice provided here and you can find more just by scrolling through this France section of the Forum. I’ve put in a link for the official CDG website. Reasonably user friendly.

I recommend making 5+ copies (index cards if available) of your hotel name and address and include the post code - it helps the taxi driver if they’re unfamiliar with your hotel. Use one from the airport and keep the others in your purse/day bag. This way if you’re out and about you can always provide the taxi driver where you want to go if you’re tired or determine that you’ve lost yourself.

Google translate is your friend! Type in the English word, choose French, then click the little speaker icon. Voila! It says your word in French and if you click it again, it repeats it slower! Just so that you can say some essential word that is needed for your life. Repeat, repeat, ...

https://www.parisaeroport.fr/en/passengers/access/paris-charles-de-gaulle/taxi/paris-cdg-taxi

The first time that I traveled truly alone, I introduced myself to the evening reception staff and explained why I was doing so (so that I felt safer knowing that someone would miss me). These persons work in the hospitality industry. I’ll bet that in France they will be just as willing to be aware of your presence as their US counterparts.

Relax, breathe, smile. You are in Paris.

Posted by
1305 posts

Candy, Have you been to the section here call Watch, Read, Listen. There is a great video under travel talks about the French travelers need. Trish does a great job of making it a fun one hour lesson and includes a lot of tips on pronunciation. I would recommend you watch it.

Posted by
784 posts

I am also an older solo female and have been to Paris 4 times in the past 5 years. You have already received a lot of good advice in response to your post, so I just want to say that I have felt safer and more comfortable in Paris than I do in downtown Seattle. That's even when in Paris with the yellow vests. Yes, I take standard precautions, just like I would anywhere. I was never pickpocketed, and have easily avoided encounters with scammers. Liberal use of "bonjour," "si'l vous plait," and "merci," is the secret to finding friendly and helpful Parisians.

So, go to Paris and have a fabulous time.

Posted by
120 posts

Hi, I am another female, senior, solo traveler and love going to Paris. I have been there a few times, the last time staying 22 nights. You have received lots of good advice on here. Be sure to read up on how to use the metro and watch YouTubes about it. It is really simple once you take the plunge. I second the advice to read tomsguidetoparis.com. Rick Steves’ books will give you a great overview of what to expect.

Keep your wits about you and don’t let others distract you to make you a victim of pickpockets. I keep my credit card, passport, ,and most money in a money belt hidden under my slacks. I only carry in my purse enough euros for the day. If i need more, i can always get more out in a restroom.

I have always found the French people very nice and helpful. Be sure and stay in a hotel where the desk clerk speaks English. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about anything you are wondering about. They are there to help you.

There will be lots of things you want to see. However, remember to be kind to your self. Take time to sit under the Eiffel Tower (maybe picnic there with things from a local grocery), sit by the river and watch the boats go by. Take time to just enjoy being in Paris.

Have a wonderful trip and come back on here and let us know how it all went for you. I might be tempted to email the friend every night and tell her about all the wonderful things you did and all the gracious people you met.

Posted by
436 posts

I enjoy saying “Bon Jour!” when entering shops or approaching someone for help, so civilized and always appreciated. After my last trip I had to suppress the BonJour when entering stores and Americans seemed unfriendly 😂

Waiters are not rude, they are efficient and not fake-friendly as in American restaurants. Plus you can relax and know they will never rush you to leave, so savor your food and linger over a glass of wine.

I recommend the Rick Steves Audio Europe app. Download the free walking tours of Paris and also listen to the many informative talks and interviews before your trip.

Enjoy the planning and the trip!

Posted by
1845 posts

There will be lots of things you want to see. However, remember to be kind to your self. Take time to sit under the Eiffel Tower (maybe picnic there with things from a local grocery), sit by the river and watch the boats go by. Take time to just enjoy being in Paris.

This is excellent advice from Brenda.

Posted by
1781 posts

Hi Candy, so sorry about your ‘friend’s’ advice about Paris. I love France (especially Paris) and visit every chance I get (10 times so far!). Your first time will be a very special treat!

Short story — a few years ago I invited some co-workers over for a dinner party. One of the women was going on and on about Paris, it’s dirty, crowded, expensive, dangerous, people are rude, etc. That had not been my experience so I asked when had she been there. She responded that she had NEVER been to Paris... Honestly, ignore your friend and take all the good advice you’ve received here. Please report back and tell us about your trip! Bon voyage!

Posted by
70 posts

Hi Candy:

I just want to “second” everyone’s comments on how wrong your friend is! I traveled there with my mom last summer, so we were two ladies 49 and 69. We arrived by train tho, and took a taxi from Nord to our tiny studio in the 6th. We used Uber several other times because Mom’s feet were barking!! It depends on the time of day and the flight experience, and your amount of luggage, but i’d most likely treat myself to a taxi ride if I could afford it. Maneuvering yourself and your bags onto the train and listening for stops can be a lot if you are very jet lagged. However, saving 40E to take the train means affording more luxurious desserts later! LOL

The two of us Texans commented MANY times to each other how polite everyone was to us, especially in public places like the pharmacy, Monoprix, the bus, specialty stores, etc. Definitely a big bonjour and merci every time to each person at the place. Btw google translate and hand gestures we communicated what we needed at the pharmacy. The cherry on top was on the train to Auver-Sur-Oise (Van gogh sites), we realized we were on the wrong local train. it did not go to Pontoise for our connection like we thought. I asked the young Parisian lady next to me (who spoke some English), if the train was stopping there, and she said No. Saw our devastated faces and said hers was the next stop, and offered to DRIVE US TO AUVER! We felt like we had no choice and she drove us the 20+ minutes out of her way, after a day of work, on the way home to her young family. She would not take any euro for her trouble. We were overwhelmed with gratitude and tried to help as many people as we could in return!

We did take some guided tours around town but our favorite one with with Paris by Martin. You reserve a day and tell him what you are interested in, and he develops a personalized tour just for you. Ours had to include cooking / kitchen stores, beautiful desserts, fashion, art supplies, hidden gems, tea shoppes, etc. He also prepares a map with highlights of your choices. And gives you his CELL phone number to contact as long as you are in town. I was able to text him with questions about which market to go to that weekend. He is a true gentleman, answers all your questions, helps you buy train ticket/carnet, pointers on where to use the bathroom, etc. Doing that on day 2 really helped us figure out the lay of the land. He is highly recommended! PS do buy your tickets ahead of time and have them on your phone app or printed out. We felt like VIPs walking to the front of the line in many places, esp St Chapelle.

Please share your trip report!! You will have a fabulous time. PLEASE see the Eiffel Tower at night, at the top of the hour. What a phenomenal experience. {if pressed, i’d say the two negatives were the smoking we sometimes walked thru and the very loud motorcycles whizzing by. But that didn’t detract from the beauty and awe). Bon voyage!

Posted by
3338 posts

How often do we hear about “friends” offering negative advice about travel especially as those same people probably are not decades long world travelers.

The only thing “surly” and grossly “unsettling” is your friend’s so-called advice, Candy.

Thus your friend must be Parisian, of course!

Posted by
2143 posts

Shawn,
Thank you for sharing that heartwarming story when the young French woman went out of her way to drive you to the next stop. Just warms my heart, the kindness of strangers is alive and well all over the world. I would like to tell this story to some of my friends who do not travel who constantly denigrate the French as rude and abrasive.

Posted by
70 posts

Judy B we truly felt like an angel was placed on the train! She was not seated next to us the entire trip, just maybe 20 minutes. This also had us triple-checking our future trains. Yes, kindness is still found in our world. So thankful.

Posted by
6725 posts

We got lost in Sceaux trying to follow Simms typical terrible directions (great book, but often confusing directions) and were far from where we should be to get to the chateau. A very elderly woman who spoke not a bit of English escorted us several blocks to get us back on track. I had a little French and we were able to piece together some communication. She was just lovely. We have nearly always felt kindness from fellow tourists and locals when in need of information or advice along the way. Some of our most interesting experiences in Europe came from a local saying 'hey have you seen X' and us taking off to see or do something we had not thought of.

Posted by
1581 posts

I hope you relax and have a great time!
If a friend said to me what your friend did, I’d probably prove her right by sending her a few photos of men who tried to pick me up and say how much fun French men were!

Posted by
276 posts

You received great advice. I have little more to offer except a personal story.

I had been to Paris a few times for a day or two by tour. We were warned by our guides about the surly Parisians. My only interactions were with rude servers and cashiers during quick lunches and buying souvenirs. I didn’t walk away with a great impression. I wonder if your friend had a similar experience. Two years ago next month I visited Paris again. This time without guides. I’m happy to say my impression brought on by bad guides and my own lack of understanding and preparedness was wrong. Like some have said enjoy just being in Paris. My best memories were when we slowed down and enjoyed the moment. One of those moments was when we shared a bench with an older gentleman at his invitation. We chatted with him and also his wife when she arrived. An hour later we exchanged addresses. We are going back to Paris in two weeks. Excitedly we have plans to meet up with the lovely couple while we are in Avignon. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
1159 posts

candyb, that "friend" is someone I would spend as little time with as possible.
I'm 72 (shhh, don't tell) and have been to Paris 10 or 12 times. I've lost count.
Sometimes I've traveled with friends, sometimes as a solo.
It's my favorite city in the world and I'm looking forward to 4 weeks there this coming October (with a friend this time.)
On my first visit about 25 years ago people were a bit rude, but I probably was as well not knowing the custom of "bonjour" and "merci" or "au revoir" when entering and leaving a shop.
In every subsequent visit I have found the Parisians to be kinder and friendlier. And almost everyone under the age of 40 will speak some English if I ask them nicely "parle vous Anglais?) and then apologize for not speaking French.
It's nice to do the Paris Walks walking tours. They have a website and you just show up at the time and place and pay the guide in cash. The groups can be big (20 or more) but it's a nice way to see Paris and you can pick an area of interest.
I also like Corey Frye (A French Frye in Paris) walking tours. They are more expensive but the groups are smaller and it's more personal. And likely you could go out to lunch or for a coffee afterward with someone from the group.
As to safety -- on my last visit I walked about a mile at 11pm alone because I had forgotten that my bus didn't run on the same street back. I felt perfectly safe.
I use a cross body bag with a zipper and clip closure (Travelon) and place it at my feet in a cafe, never draped over the back of a chair. (I wouldn't do that at home either.)
Do get Rick's Paris book and study up before you go.
I know that you will have a marvelous time!
And please post a trip report for us.

Posted by
1858 posts

hey hey candyb
@ Diane Love Love it.
candy, take some selfies with young and elderly frenchmen, if I was there, I’d take those pictures for you!! your friend will see what she’s been missing, just smile having a great and fun time. Enjoy
aloha

Posted by
2042 posts

Your friend sounds like the one with the problem. If everyone is rude the problem is looking back at you in a mirror.

I’m not young and I have gone to Paris numerous times solo and keep going back. That should tell you it’s a great place

Posted by
4592 posts

I’m in Paris now and am over 60 years old. Happy to report that the Parisians are as friendly as ever! The airport is still fine, people will help you with questions if you’re polite to them, and the men across France for the last two weeks of travel have been very considerate. I’m actually curious if your friend has ever actually been to Paris!

Posted by
250 posts

Four years ago I spent several months alone in France, and that included a couple of weeks in Paris completely solo. I was in my early- 50s, so I'm also "older."

The airport was an airport (never a fun place to be but not awful.)

I never found Parisians to be surly, they were in fact friendlier than most folks in the smaller towns. I'm not saying they were friendly like you might find in a small, Southern town in the U.S. ("howdy, ya'll!") but they were perfectly nice for the most part. However, I do speak a little French - with a godawful heavy accent, I'm sure - and that goes a long way to endearing you to the French. Not how well you speak it, necessarily, but that you at least try and meet them halfway.

I never met ANY men with "nefarious" ideas in France (I hear that is more an issue in Italy) - whether it was when I was there in my teens or as a middle-aged woman. I'm reasonably attractive, but no men ever bothered me, so from my experience I'd say that isn't a problem.

I spent a lot of time wandering Paris on my own, and I can't say I had a single negative experience. But I did make it a point to be back to my hotel room before dark which kind of ruled out dinner at a nice restaurant in the evening. That was just my own personal comfort level, and a couple of times I did stay out long enough to see the lights on the Eiffel Tower come on, but then I felt uneasy being in the city alone after dark. I never felt any particular threat, but out of an abundance of caution in ANY big city, I don't want to be out and about by myself at night.

Posted by
17 posts

Hello All:

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I spent a week in Paris and it was wonderful. I had no problems whatsoever, except that I got a cold (I think on the plane). I'm already planning to go back to see the things I didn't get to see, plus side trips to Rouen and Chartre.

Thanks again,
Candy

Posted by
89 posts

That is so awesome Candy! I’m so glad you went, glad you had a good trip, and that you plan to go back. Sorry about getting a cold. Hopefully next time you won’t have one.

Posted by
1159 posts

Thanks so much for reporting back. A lot of times it feels as if our responses go into a deep hole never to be seen again.
I am delighted that you had a wonderful time. To me, Paris is a magical place and I love it when other people are happy there too!

Posted by
1806 posts

As I look over at my U.S. born and bred significant other settling in for his Sunday football (which to me is equivalent to watching paint dry), I can't help but sigh and think "Gee, I miss my younger days of drinking and dancing until all hours of the night with foreign men with nefarious ideas...".