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Solo to Paris, 1st trip to Europe

Hello, I have wanted to come to France for years yet not one of my friends/family wants to join me. Everyone wants to go to Italy so for the past months I've been planning a trip to Italy for several family members. I gave up my dream but now I'm mad and said No to Italy for now. I'm coming to Paris solo but I have days of excitement followed by shear terror. I know extreme but I've never left the USA, very little time in big cities and fear the loneliness of no one to talk to or eat with.

What do you think I can do in Paris to overcome this? I don't mind being alone sometimes but besides joining a walking tour or something to meet others, whatelse?

Thank you
Cate

Posted by
1222 posts

First step back and take a deep breath. As a solo traveler, I can say that the first trip alone is always the scariest. As an introvert it's especially daunting. Here are my tips.

Approach Paris like NYC, keep track of your valuables especially on the subway, be aware of surroundings and cons.

Paris Walks has a lot of walking tours of different neighborhoods. Go on a few of them, strike up a conversations with other participants, I've seen strangers get together for lunch after a walk.

Go to a play/recital at night.

Dining can be difficult for a solo traveler. I find it easier to eat a big meal at lunch and then grab something for dinners, ie prepared food at a supermarket. The nice thing about France and Spain is at their cafes you can sit/stand at the bar instead of eating alone at a table.

Finally, some people won't like this but you WILL feel lonely at least once on your trip. Acknowledge it but don't wallow in it. Take a selfie and send it back home or write a quick email. Then get back to exploring Paris. I've traveled alone to France/Spain/UK and while I've felt lonely, I've never regretted any of my trips.

Posted by
515 posts

I spent a week in Paris as a solo female in December.....I chose a hotel in the 6th one block from the river. I walked everywhere easily and did 3 Paris walks and met a very nice lady on my first walk who was also traveling solo. We ended up spending our week visit together and had a great time.

I found Paris to be very friendly to visitors and easy to get around. I was never concerned for safety. When I did eat alone I had a great time people watching.

Paris Walks are easy to meet up with with 1-2 walks per day depending on season and there is more than enough in Paris to fill your visit there.

Posted by
1666 posts

I agree with the prior comments. When I travel solo, I keep a blog and spend part of my evening thinking and writing about my day. It keeps me focused on why I travel (experience new things, people, sights) and also share it with my friends and family. Go experience Paris and don't let your (no offense) flaky friends keep you from going places you have dreamed about.

Posted by
506 posts

You chose one of the best cities to do solo.
Metro and buses will take you almost anywhere.
If you think you might be lonely you might want to consider checking the posts in the TRAVEL PARTNERS forum for anyone going your way.
One thing I learned on my first trip is that Europe caters a lot to travelers.
Check the Tourist Information office (privately owned business) for any question you have.
They can tell you if there are special activities going on, how to get to the attractions and sell you tickets to shows (I think for a fee).
Most front desk people are happy to help and give you advice on what to see, where to eat, how to get there.
If you can splurge, find a good private guide to show you the city (see RS suggestions).
Getting in on a group tour will keep you from being lonely and might get you into popular attractions without waiting in line.
Have fun!

Posted by
21 posts

I can't thank you enough for your kind words, encouragement and wonderful suggestions. I've been planning for months reading and youtube videos are helpful too. I'll definitely do some tours to meet others, I think I was struggling with eating alone as I love good conversation over food. Thank you Heather for the suggestion of the cafe lunch and a lite dinner as that would not be out of the norm for me anyway. I really wanted to share this experience with a friend/family member but since none of my flakey friends want to love France as I do then I guess it's all mine.
And I have stronger words than flakey for them but I still love them.... lol

Posted by
5059 posts

Someone mentioned a tour group; have you considered the Rick Steves Best of Paris tour? You're traveling alone, but with instant friends! The group stays in one hotel the entire time, and it's okay to skip any activities that don't interest you. It's a great tour.

Then you can come a few days early, or stay a few days longer (we did both!) for more time to explore your own interests.

Posted by
3789 posts

I am a long time solo traveler and encourage people to do the same. It is empowering, particularly as a woman. As an introvert, I don't feel the need for company on the road, but there are ways to work with that. As said, I eat my big meal out at lunch. I also rent apartments so I can follow my normal routines and use the evening to blog, check photos, have a simple meal in or plan the next day. Sometimes after a long day on your feet, jammies and Netfix (with a glass of wine) is a girl's best friend.
That being said, Paris has some great options for the solo traveller. Here is a link to a list of Paris activities posted by a long tiime solo travel blogger. She might be a great help for this and future travel.

https://solotravelerworld.com/?s=paris+greeter
There is a Paris Global Greeter system where you can meet and visit/sightsee with a local for a couple of hours - free! Also look at the article about eating in a Paris Salon. There are evening dinner options where strangers get together in a host's home for dinner.
I think if you can get a Global Greeter meeting early in the trip, they can help you get grounded in the city to build your confidence. Otherwise, a walking tour or a Hop on Hop off bus will get you a little more familiar with the city. Just ride the bus the whole route, then use it to get to sites.
Learn a few words in French - at least the greetings. Know that people greet the staff when they enter or leave a shop or restaurant. And, watch the other shoppers. You often don't handle the merchandise. Staff will choose your apples, or pick up the sweater to look at. In grocery stores or department stores, then it is a little more self serve.
Post to Instagram, use Whatsapp to chat with folks at home - or in Italy for that matter.
Go and have a great time!

Posted by
6632 posts

Don't feel at all hesitant to book a nice dinner at a good restaurant. We have often seen people dining alone at such places; it is not odd. In France, it is the food and someone wanting a magnificent meal is welcome at these nice places. Book ahead. There are lots of things to do in the evening: Louvre on Weds and Fri, D'Orsay on Thursday, musical events (check out Philharmonie for its fabulous hall and building). On walking tours keep an eye out for people like you i.e. other women roughly in your age group also traveling alone and don't hesitate to see if they are interested in a dinner one night or attending an event if you hit it off on the tour. My husband and I have gone to the American Cathedral on Sunday when spending long stretches in Paris and then to the coffee hour after service where we met people also visiting whom we had dinner with later; it is nice to occasionally socialize with others even when you are visiting as a couple.

Posted by
21 posts

Hello Jane and Maria, Thank you for the wonderful tips. I did consider a RS tour, I read it, re-read several times and then asked myself what kind of traveler I am here at home and it just didn't feel like it was for me. Although I do love the instant friend as I consider myself very friendly and easy going but I'm not a structured day kind of person. More of a wake up and what do I feel like doing today, I drive my friends crazy. Maria, thank you for the solo blog, I will definitely being reading that with a glass of wine tonight and for the greeter information, I had not heard of that before and sounds great.

Thank you for all the responses, I definitely have a pep in my step today.

I've been practicing my greetings and general questions in French, thanks to youtube I definitely had some of them incorrect for pronunciation.
I greet my husband with Bonjour every morning with his name in French, he chuckles..

Posted by
26 posts

I was prepared to go to Paris alone a couple years ago, but two girlfriends joined in on the cheap airfare deal I found. I was afraid as well, but after a couple days in the city, I felt safe and secure and felt like I could have absolutely done it by myself. I also dreamed of visiting Paris for my whole life, and seeing it was 100% magic. Like every moment of every day I was in love. Once you feel that, your fear will melt away!

There is so much to do, you'll never be bored. Had I gone by myself, I would have found a tour group, maybe a walking food tour, to join on a day or two, hoping to mingle with other English speakers. The language barrier (I only have high school French in my pocket) was my lonely-feeling fear. Airbnb has more and more "experiences" popping up, things like walking tours or bread making workshops. Check that out for some organized activity.

Also, make sure you have good transit options available to you. Rick Steves has good recommendations for transit map apps and Google Maps is good too. Knowing how to get where I wanted to go made me very confident. My friends were impressed with my navigation skills, but all I did was learn how to navigate the apps lol

When are you going? Maybe a RS forum member would be there at the same time and you could meet up for dinner and conversation!

The fear is there, but you CAN overcome it and it will be absolutely worth it.

Posted by
21 posts

Janet, Thank you for the fine dining experience suggestion, I'll definitely do it and the church/after hour, that's a fantastic idea.
I've read your many responses to travelers and are always so helpful, also like your blog/photos.

Tasha, thank you for your experience and I know I'm just going to love Paris too. I've been practicing using the metro app, typing in destinations and surprisingly it's quite easy, at least to read.

I don't have dates yet but am thinking late September for 10 days not counting travel days, still watching airfare.

I'm definitely not afraid of Paris itself, I've been watching these live videos on FB, there are people everywhere and doesn't seem frightening even to this small town girl.

I'm relating to this to the 1st time my father stood me in line for a rollercoaster, scared, butterflies as we got closer.. but was the best ride of my then 6yr old life. Now they can't go high or fast enough for me.

Thank you for all your responses and know I'm very appreciative.

Posted by
35 posts

Cate, I will be traveling to Paris solo for the first time in April. One thing that has been very helpful to me is to find A French Frye in Paris videos on Facebook and YouTube. Corey Frye has many videos online of him narrating a walk around different areas of Paris. You can become very familiar with whichever neighborhood you want to stay in. He has quite a following and is interesting to watch. You can sign up for one of his tours. They are usually about 2 hours long.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfrkg0WfgjM_rh9YOoXfuhw

Posted by
11289 posts

The posts above had a lot of great advice, particularly Heather's point that you will feel lonely at some point, and to prepare for this rather than trying to deny it. I also agree with her that sending people I know emails about my travels, while I'm traveling, makes me feel more connected to them and less alone (of course, I only send it to those who enjoy reading such things). If you don't have anyone to send an email to, you can always post a trip report here. Your friends and family may not understand, but we sure will!

One other thing that will be helpful: you say you haven't spent time in big cities. See if you can take a long day or a couple of days in DC (chosen because it's your closest big city; if another city works equally well, you can do that one instead or in addition). The skills you learn there will all be very helpful in Paris. Finding your way around, taking the metro, figuring out restaurants or supermarkets for meals, learning how you want to see museums - these are just some of the things that will similar in DC and Paris, and you'll feel much more comfortable with that experience under your belt. Rick says that (paraphrasing) each trip would be better if you could do it twice, the first time as a rehearsal and the second time as the real thing. So, look at a trip to DC as a rehearsal for Paris.

Posted by
5059 posts

I love Harold's idea of a dress rehearsal. The first time we went to Rome, I was completely overwhelmed - crowds, noise, traffic, buses, metro, more crowds, crowds on the buses, crowds on the metro, and lots of activity everywhere.

The next year, we visited Rome again, and it was better. The third time, it was downright enjoyable. So do a trial run in some bustling city, then when you are in Paris give yourself extra time to acclimate. If you get overwhelmed, head for a park and just sit. Or a café. Or your hotel room or lobby. Don't try to do everything, and if you get discouraged, frustrated, or just tired: take a time out. It's not only okay, it's essential.

By the way, I found Paris less overwhelming than Rome. I think partly because the things most tourists are interested in are more widely scattered across town. And by then I know how to use the public transportation, which helps a lot.

Posted by
21 posts

Hello, you've all been so wonderful today, thank you so much.
Maria.. ok, I couldn't wait to read the solo blog you attached ( sorry employer, I'll make it up), I have been so inspired and cracking up with the articles, this advice seemed to resonate "Do the thing that scares you. Fear is short lived compared to regret "

Tammy- actually Cory Frye has been the videos I was watching and is actually what made me mad at myself for giving into my family about going to Italy instead of Paris. And yes, he is fantastic, I can't believe he's only lived in Paris for 8 yes and knows so much.

Harold- you're not going to believe this but I had the same thought. I was watching DC news this am and saw the cherry blossoms are coming into peak next week and I should go down, get on metro and down to the tidal basin and museums.
I'm ashamed to say I've not visited our nation's capital in 25 yes and it's only a hour +- away..
Thank you for your other advice too, I'm thinking of starting a pre trip report on how this whole thing got started from my obsession with Paris and my countless begging of friends/family but you know I'm the pleaser in the family so now I only have to please myself.

Jane- thank you for your candid advice, I live on a dead end road with 4 houses, heck I can't even get a pizza delivery so the city comings and goings might get a little overwhelming and I love being in parks so I know I will definitely being chilling too.

Thank you all for the encouragement

Posted by
1822 posts

Hi Cate:
First of all, good for you for branching out alone!
My husband is not a traveler, so I've been on many solo trips, and two were to Paris in the past three years, for two weeks each time.
You could rent an apart-hotel; then you would have your own place within a staffed building, to feel more secure.
Perhaps others here could recommend such a place.
Take guided walks, free and paid; look for musical events to go to, hop on the Metro with your Navigo Decouverte Pass and explore outer neighbourhoods of the city.
Sit in the many parks with a picnic, and watch the world go by.
After you've seen the big sites, visit a few smaller museums and galleries away from the crowds.
What time of year will you be there?

Posted by
3789 posts

I use Airbnb's apartments but some like a concierge or front desk. Lots of parks in Paris. Most are formal European types but Kardon du Luxembourg is charming and larger. If you can stay near there it gives a bit of a buffer from the hustle and bustle of the Louvre area.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi SJ and Maria, Thank you, I'm excited to put this trip together. I don't have confirmed dates yet but I'm hoping for mid to late September and not opposed for beginning of October. On the solo blog Maria sent earlier there was a link for year round festivals so I'll be confirming those once I get dates set.

The apartment/hotels I've ran across are the Citadines and I think Le Clef in the 2nd, near the Louvre but if memory recalls Le Clef was rather pricey. I'd have to look again. I found 2 hotels I kind of like in the 6th, one was Luxembourg Parc and the other was closer to the end of the 6th near the 14th which may be a tad far but I liked them both near the park.

I think part of my hesitation earlier was just fear of the unknown and eating alone but you've given me the confidence yea, I might eat alone but I'm sure I can meet someone on a tour or spontaneous conversation and it will work out ok.

Posted by
658 posts

Lots of good advice so far. I have visited France solo six times in the past eight years, and always with a few days in Paris. And I'm planning on returning this June (alone). I'll just comment on the dining alone part. That was the first thing that felt strange to me at first, but with which I have since grown accustomed. It is perfectly natural to dine alone in Paris, and not unusual. I usually bring an e-book, but I also try to find a place where I can people watch too. Most cafés and brasseries have outdoor, or "looking outdoor" seating. I find I spend at least as much time people watching and watching the street life as I do reading my book. The only thing I would caution you about is the timing of such visits. Most regular restaurants have very specific hours of when the serve meals, and when they don't. Most restaurants open at 7:00pm, and pretty much have one seating. Most cafés and brasseries serve all day. But if you go to any of these eating places an hour into meal time (sometime after 7:00 in the evening), you may find them all packed with no seats available for the duration. I recommend scouting out some place you like during the day and making a reservation, or going to a brasserie in the "off" hours to be sure you get a seat.

Enjoy!

Posted by
3685 posts

I can't ride a bicycle so have never bumped across Paris cobblestones on two wheels. But many people seem happy with the Fat Bike tours, inevitably sociable excursions. https://www.fattiretours.com/paris
A Google search will also turn up several "street art" walking tours, which is to say graffiti. The common theme tends to attract fellow-walkers in the same frame of mind.
Dining solo, you may feel more comfortable making advance reservations. The Fork, now operated by TripAdvisor, has been efficient in my experience, helping me can show up with printed reservation in hand and no question about taking up a table solo. It runs user reviews too although as always with TA the views should be taken with a grain of salt (pun unavoidable.)

Posted by
1222 posts

Honestly, once you've gone solo traveling you may never want to go back. The first time I went solo everyone was worried for me but when I got back and they saw what I did, I had people wanting to go with me for my next trip because I did so much "cool stuff". LOL.

I'm impressed that your first solo trip is in Paris, mine was London just for the ease of things but it was still foreign enough for me. I don't know if you have Apple products or FaceTime but I used FaceTime to connect with my family back home-usually late at night when it was dinnertime there so I could tell them about my day around the dinner table. Just to at least check in so people know you are okay.

Posted by
1176 posts

Take a look at the week long Paris Rick Steves tour. It is a great way to go solo, learn how to travel in Europe, see Paris and be with a group but still have free time to do what you want. It may not be as daunting being in a group and there are only 24 people on the tour. This way you will have someone to eat with and talk to and get to see lots of interesting places and learn how to use the metro and get around. I have gone on 16 tours mostly solo and it really is a lot of fun. You can stay a few days after the tour in Paris if you want to go more than a week and then you will know the city better after being with the tour.

Posted by
21 posts

You guys are awesome and I love riding bikes, for those not familiar I live on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, think John Denver country roads it's referring too .. just gorgeous in the panhandle of WV and MD... and the C&O canal draws lots of visitors so I love it.

Thank you for the dinner advice, The Fork reviews too.

Heather - it's funny you mention I may not go back after solo traveling, since my family wanted to go to Italy and I've done all the leg work, I may venture on and leave them in the dust... do like Emril... Bam!!!!

Seriously you guys have made my day

Posted by
21 posts

Also, wanted to give a shout out to the many contributors on the General Europe forum to Max, you guys went way past compassion and advice for him, many who responded to me, frankly brought a tear up or two

Dang, I felt like asking him if he's going to Paris

You guys really are so nice!!!!!

Posted by
3789 posts

Cate, so glad we can help out. If you like bikes, Paris was one of the first cities for bikes you use for short hops from here to there, park, pay and leave. Since then many other cities have done similar, but at first Americans didn't realize these are not meant to rent for the day. They had some pretty hefty bills when finally docking the bike after 8 hours. Jnstructions were not bilingual so there spwas much lost in translation.
Yeah, Max sounds like you as far as being ready to board the intrepid traveler bus. You both have a glee club.

Posted by
2917 posts

Cate,
I actually meet more people when I travel solo. I honestly am never lonely, because I just don't mind being with only myself for a change. You indicate you are an introverted, people pleaser. You might discover how wonderful it is traveling solo and just being in a position where you don't have to worry about other people being happy, etc. It's one of the few times that we can only consider our own desires. Pure freedom.

Regarding eating alone, the recommendation to eat your larger meal at lunch might also mean all you need late in the afternoon is a visit to a patisserie to finish your eating day!

I will say that no matter how often I travel, the day before I'm nervous, but just accept some nerves as they will go away. On the website recommended above, look for the story and all the suggestions for a woman who was on her first solo trip in London and having 'nerves', and all the suggestions to work through it. Solo Traveler is a great resource.

Posted by
5059 posts

Ann, I suggested that, too. (I think we're on the same wavelength, planning our own Paris visits this year!) I think the Best of Paris tour is a great way to get your feet wet, and not too expensive.

I missed the Max posts. Does anyone have a link?

Posted by
11450 posts

Cate I’ve done many trips to Paris - with hubby ,alone with kids , with friends - but shhhh , my favourite visits are the few solo ones I’ve done !! No one to consult with about where to go and what to do , leave a place early , stay longer , it’s all my choice !!
I don’t care at all about eating alone ! I bring my book and love reading while I eat , so rude when you’re with another person but fine when you’re alone ! And I’ve never felt weird eating alone in Paris - it seems normal .

I have stayed in apartments and hotels , but prefer hotels when alone .

I also do second the recommendation of a Fat Tire Bike Tour - I’ve done them all ( over many years not all at once ) and my fave is the Night bike tour ( includes a boat cruise ) and the one to Monets Gardens !! The riding is easy ( I hadn’t even been on a bike for decades before I took my first tour .

Go and enjoy - I don’t recall ever feeling lonely/ although once in awhile if I saw something particularly cool I would wish there was someone there to say “ wow look at that !” - so I took a lot of photos !

Posted by
21 posts

Hi, I guess when I started this journey, I was disappointed my friends didn't want to have these "wow" moments with me but I've had a almost a year of their rejection so I've moved on.
With your encouragement today I feel better than ever I am making the right decision of solo travel. I just feel such a strong connection to France with the USA. We have territories, towns, streets named after french towns/people, it just warms my heart. The USA would not be who we are today without the French.

Posted by
21 posts

Also, I might add I'm a history major and a minor in obsessive architecture (J/K on the minor but you get the jist)
I can't wait to come to Paris to look up as well as my feet

Thank you all so much

Posted by
403 posts

After years of traveling with friends, they decided this year to cancel plans that we had made to visit south Italy. I just couldn't think about not going to Europe this year so I decided to go on my own. Actually, I am taking the MyWay Italy based on a trip report that I read here and it makes my kids happy that I am not completely on my own (they know how directionally challenged I am). I can't tell you how much fun I have had planning what I am going to do in each city, putting together walking tours on google maps and knowing that I can change my plans at the spur of the moment without affecting anyone else. The biggest challenge for me to overcome will be dining alone but I plan on trying to have at least on nice dinner out in each of the bigger cities. You have gotten tons of great advice here and I can't wait to here about your trip when you return.

Posted by
308 posts

You are going to have a great time. I won't repeat all the good advise and information you've already received. I will add:

You might want to choose your flight soon as prices for that time frame seem to be going up ONLY. You can track as many possibilities as you want with Google Flights.

If you don't eat at the bar (where you will undoubtedly find other diners to chat up), you will likely be placed so close to the next table that conversation will come naturally.

I always bring a small journal on each trip and often make notes when I am dining alone.

I like to post photos on Facebook for family and friends...another way to feel connected.

Posted by
8299 posts

I’ve spent years in Paris, but my favorite trip was 9 days by myself. It was fantastic. You’ll have a better time on your own, for real. No compromising with anyone. As Pat said, i could do everything and anything i wanted. Paris is so much fun!! You’ll never run out of fun things to do. I eat alone at cafés all the time (even when there w family/friends). I like sitting outside and people watching. Unlike here, you can stay as many hours as you want, even if you only ordered a coffee. You’ll see many other people alone at a table, it’s very common, and no one cares or notices.
I enjoy Paris most just walking for hours and exploring, and walking and sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens.
You won’t regret going and i’ll bet you’ll fall in love with Paris and return many times!

Posted by
21 posts

I have to admit I'm starting to love the when I want where I want and how I want theme going on here. At first I was sad and no doubtfully I wanted a little hand holding or at least if I was clueless I would be with clueless #2 to discuss but now I'm looking so forward to this adventure. . I can barely contain myself and I'm so looking for all of you on this journey with me

Posted by
123 posts

Cate, How exciting! I'm thrilled for you, I've traveled to Paris alone, you will thoroughly enjoy yourself. I recommend:

Create a day by day itinerary with things to do, sites to see. Write it down, day by day. It's nice to have an idea of how you will / can spend your time. It's an outline you can choose to follow or not.

Certainly you have sites you will want to see and lots of folks on the forum will have ideas to fill the itinerary.

On day One I recommend booking a walking tour with Paris greeters. They are Parisian volunteers who create and conduct their own guided tours of the city. I do this EVERY time I go to Paris. It's a great way to get started. They only take donations. J'adore Paris Greeters.

Buy all tickets to sites in advance, don't stand in line for tickets EVER unless you have to.

Plan your transportation route in advance this way you will know where you are going.

Download the google map of paris on your smart phone.
Download the Paris metro map to your phone, learn how to use it.

Check your carriers calling plan for how to use your phone if necessary. Charges can be extreme to tread carefully. Rick Steves has great information on this topic.

You are going to have a blast!!!!!!! How exciting.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi Debbie,
Yes someone else mentioned Paris greeters, what a fantastic way to start the trip and I kind of love you don't get to choose the tour, kind-of a kid in a candy store theme.

This has been an exhilarating day and I can't wait to live trip report this journey.

In all honesty im not over what started this thred but I have months to practice and I'm really looking fwd to it.
It's not that I haven't sat in a restaurant alone, just not 10 days in a foreign country, but as one poster stated they sit you so close you can't help but be introduced, how lovely!!!

Posted by
9736 posts

Good morning, Cate!! I arrived in Paris yesterday for my 3rd or 4th solo trip, 6th since 2014. I’ve been here on various RS tours, I’ve been here with a friend and I’ve been here on my own. They are all fun ways to experience this gorgeous city!!

I’ll just add a couple of points:

  • Bump up your walking- I managed to get 12,000 steps or about 6 miles in yesterday afternoon from about 2:30 in the afternoon to after dinner!

  • Eating solo doesn't bother me and I tend to eat at cafes because I'm starved by 6, lol. I noticed last night there were half couples/groups and about half solo diners here I ate. Always ask the waiter if there is a wifi code but was loving just people-watching last evening.

  • Upthread I think you indicated you like to have more flexible days than planned ones. I am a planner and I’d encourage you to have an idea of where you’d like to walk on your arrival afternoon as well as the first morning. It’s easier for me to get out and get going if I’ve got a plan. I don’t feel quite as shy. You mentioned you’ve been watching Corey Frye’s videos? After I got to my hotel yesterday afternoon I went over to find the things he showed on his recent walk of lesser known things in the Trocadero area. Very fun!

  • Also have a loose plan for when you want to see any museums due to their closure days.

  • Do make the trip to DC. Practice eating alone there as well!

Have fun!

Posted by
5059 posts

Oh, good; I was hoping Pam would chime in. I'm also hoping my friend Lo from Tucson sees this thread; she travels alone regularly, and has a wonderful time. She, like Pam, is full of tips and ideas.

Maria, thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

Posted by
2917 posts

What I often do after my arrival is walk around the neighborhood to find the bank, the grocery store, the bakery, (in Paris it would definitely be the patisserie), a comfortable place to eat, the local park, etc. and any errand I might want done right away. For example, on my last trip which was Amsterdam I got my museumkart, found the grocery (I always have a ginger drink or water and bland crackers in my room just in case my stomach gets queasy), found the park, etc. Once this is done the neighborhood doesn't feel foreign. If there is time, I'll then venture out as a tourist or I'm ready to do so the next day.

Posted by
30 posts

Hi Cate,

As an introverted solo traveler, I can only say ditto to all the good advice already given. One thing I will say is that I do a lot of research ahead of time, read advice from other travelers, ask questions, and then make decisions that I think work for me. My goal always is to have a great time, and not get stressed out because I'm traveling by myself. As an example, while I could get from the airport to my hotel much less expensively using public transportation, and I do that when traveling in the US, in other countries I find it much easier to take a taxi. I tend to stay in hotels instead of apartments because I like the security of front desk assistance. And like others have said, I love the freedom to spend 5 hours in the fashion museum without worrying if someone else will get bored. Do what works for you, there is no one "right" answer, and you'll have an amazing time!

Posted by
1804 posts

Airbnb has a section of their website they call "Experiences" where they list dozens of different small groups you can get together with (for a fee). If you fear eating dinner on your own, sign up for one of the dinner parties - some are hosted by locals who will make you a home cooked meal so you can talk with them and others who join the dinner party. Others are hosted by professional chefs who show you how to cook, or get you involved in the cooking process and then everyone sits down to eat. The same "Experiences" section also has other small group activities you can do to meet people - whether it's walking through a neighborhood on a history or architecture tour, visiting a local street market, joining wine/beer/cheese tastings - doing some of those things with a small group might make you feel more at ease.

There is zero reason for you to feel terror when visiting Paris on your own. And I emphatically disagree traveling solo is worse for introverts. Sorry, but introverts, by their very nature, are the ones most comfortable doing things on their own. It's extroverts that fear being lonely and worry they won't find someone to connect with, or fear people are staring at them if they are out in a bar or restaurant alone.

I don't always travel on my own, but I find when I travel with my friends, boyfriend or family members, they slow me down. I used to let myself get sucked into having to do most of the day-to-day planning, but as I've gotten older I've learned to tell them flat out I'm only planning things I want to do, so if they want to see something specific, then they better take over some of the planning and come up with an itinerary for that day. And if they want to see something I have zero interest in, or that I've already seen, I also let them know well in advance we are parting ways that day and I'm heading off to do my own thing - I'm not there to hold their hand or be their personal Cruise Director.

Good that you've decided to move forward with Paris on your own. Don't wuss out now. And don't put yourself into another situation where you anoint yourself "Travel Martyr" and "give up your dream" to visit X, Y or Z and waste time planning a trip somewhere you don't even care about - because you'll have no one to blame but yourself if you chicken out because you worry you may feel a few pangs of loneliness, get a little lost outside of your small town, or you have to sit down and eat or drink a glass of wine on your own in public. Get this first solo international trip under your belt and I say you have a good chance at never putting your travel dreams on hold again once you realize the worrying was all in your head.

Posted by
613 posts

Visiting France & visiting Paris are two different things. I hate Paris, love Alsace, Provence, the Alps

there is an organization in EU that provides individual free local tours by charitable minded English speaking locals. I cant remeber its name.

The French speak English far better than Americans speak French. To get them to speak English, you must first attempt to speak to them in French. Learn these phrases:

Where is the WC (restroom), please.
Do you have a table for one, please?
Do you have a room for one? (hotel)
One beer please (France is famous for their wines,. but they also have great beer. Because of globalization, you can't afford great French wine, but you can afford great French beer).

Please & thank you cannot be over used.

Once you start off with any of these lines, they will switch to English. If not, also learn to say I don't speaxFrench. Do you speak English. By using these simple rules, French waiters give me free food..

Experience teaches me that I have no chance of persuading you that nobody should waste their time visiting Paris since there are so many better places to see in EU, but consider this 2 days to Versaillse, one for the palace, one for the fountains (not on every day): day to Rouen, day to Rheims, 2-3 days to Colmar/route de vin Alsace

Posted by
4480 posts

Hi Cate,

There might be some helpful hints for you from my solo trip report last year (Top section).

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/solo-trip-to-italy-2018

I would recommend having a couple of activities where you will be talking with other people. I really enjoyed taking a cooking class in Paris from La Cuisine. I took their croissant pastry class and have enjoyed making them several times a year now.

If you’re lonely, get outside among people. I like the evening boat cruise (not the dinner ones). I’ve taken them each time I am in Paris.

Since you’re traveling solo, think of activities you like that might be a special treat, I.e. an opera, a concert, etc. Make a special night for yourself!

Posted by
4480 posts

I’m going to be signing up for this tour, returning again to Paris this year. I’ve taken city bike tours in several major cities, and they are always a great way to learn about the city in a fun way and also have an English conversation break during your trip.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187147-d2038979-Reviews-Paris_Charms_Secrets_Tours-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

Sometimes all you need is a little gelato break! There’s an Amorino shop at 4 rue Vavin that’s near an entrance to the gorgeous Luxembourg Garden. Either the Vavin or Notre Dame des Champs metro stop will get you close to the shop.

Posted by
85 posts

Hi Cate,

Sorry about your friends; they are certainly missing out on a great experience! Having been to Europe solo and with friends many times, I can tell you that one of things that will make a HUGE difference for you is your choice of a hotel. Depending on your selection, it can either be a friendly, welcoming refuge after a tiring day, or a lonely and gloomy place to which you do not look forward to returning. I have been to Paris several times and stayed in different hotels that were nice, but I stayed in one last summer that I think might meet your needs well as a solo female traveler. It is the Holiday Inn Express, Canal de la Villette. https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/paris/parlv/hoteldetail

One thing I loved about this hotel was that it was in a residential neighborhood that felt quite safe and less hectic than those nearer the main tourist areas. People on the streets were doing normal activities like taking their baby in a stroller or walking dogs. There were also 2 options for eating at the hotel (bar service for small snacks or an attached restaurant) plus 2 more just across the street within 50 feet of the front door. Just around the corner on the canal are some additional options, including Paname Brewing Company, my favorite. No, the hotel is not "just next door to the Louvre" or some other tourist site, but you can easily reach them from the nearby Metro station (Riquet).

The best thing, however, was actually the hotel bar. I am not a big drinker, but my friend and I did go there every evening, either on our own or together, to relax after our day of sightseeing. It's nothing big or fancy, but the barman was always up for a chat if he wasn't too busy, and every evening we ended up talking to some of the many Americans and Aussies who were staying there. We met up with some lovely solo travelers and spent the entire evening sharing stories of our travels. We were also invited more than once to join up with families when they saw one of us was there in the bar alone at the moment. It's the kind of place where you won't feel awkward or unsafe being alone, and you just might meet up with someone else to share a pleasant evening drink. We looked forward to coming "home" every evening. The hotel was unfortunately too expensive for us for us at the time of our upcoming return trip this June. However in August/September when you are going, it should be reasonable (for Paris) and includes a large buffet breakfast.

Whereever you decide to stay, I hope you have an amazing adventure!
Linda

Posted by
21 posts

Hello Jean and Linda,
Thank you so much for your suggestions, I'm really in planning mode now thanks to all the support I've received.

I know I'm going to have a great time solo and a lot of the apprehensive feelings I had may still exist but I'm willing to overcome them.

I can't wait to experience it yet I'm willing to go with very little knowledge of what I might encounter.

I almost feel like I want each and everyone of you to be proud...lol
I've learned so much.. can't thank you enough

Oh and Barbara.. you didn't miss anything, just my friends/family want to go to Italy which I would love to go too but my heart belongs to France and they have no interest. .. why? Not sure but I don't see dragging anyone who will make me miserable. . So I've decided to go solo... who knows maybe they'll be jealous when I return.

Posted by
3685 posts

The Fork/la fourchette is a useful site for dining. It covers many restaurants and will make reservations in English for you. Dining solo, as I have done in France on several dozen trips, feels less lonely with a reservation so they are waiting to welcome you. I also depend on hotel Wifi to stay in touch with the world and friends back home, plus last-minute searches for information on events and attractions. Google Maps are good, as is https://www.ratp.fr/en for interactive planning on rapid transit. Since you have to depend on yourself, advance research is vital, such as going to the Explore Europe and Travel Tips right here on this page. And try not to rush; better to be at the airport an hour too early than at the last minute, because hurrying leads to mistakes. Bon voyage!

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you Southam for the recommendation. . I do plan the essentials down but I like to draw on my 25 year old self when I hopped in a car and drove east to west coast.. pre Internet days... no plans, no destination... it was a blast!! So I have an outline of places I want to visit... days closed etc... but I want to keep my itinerary very loose for park sitting and cafe watching. Just suits my interests better to be flexible.
But I will be using your suggestion and making a few dinner reservations

Thanks a bunch..

Btw.. for you non usa peeps... that's a long way... 3 weeks and at times felt rushed to get home. :)

Posted by
12898 posts

Hi,

I can understand you would find going to Paris intimidating and a daunting prospect. My first time there at 23 in 1973 I was with my girl-friend, also 23, then. Paris was the first time for both of us. My second time to Paris was 4 years later in Aug 1977...solo with basically zero French language but not intimidated.. .

Maybe I was older, maybe it was the second visit but still I got lost off and on, had trouble or more aptly fumbled again and again trying to figure out the Metro, on and on as a solo traveler....never joined a walking tour or signed up on a group walking tour.

The loneliness factor is the least of your concerns. That aspect doe not concern me at all when I am in Paris or Germany, etc.

Focus instead on your itinerary, what sights you plan on tracking down and getting there, focus on the excitement in seeing the place, being actually there in Paris..as the song goes from 1929, ça c'est Paris.

Traveling solo you know that at dinner 99.9% you'll be having dinner alone, likewise when stopping for a coffee or at lunch, or doing a dinner picnic in the hotel room.

Don't wait for others (relatives, friends, ) to join you in doing a trip...I see it as wasted time when the projected plans don't materialise. I don't wait since what is the likelihood "they" will come through. If not, what then? Answer: wasted time is the result.

Posted by
12898 posts

"So, I've decided to go solo...." Bravo ! My compliments on reaching this decision. It is the right one.

I went solo my first time at 21 in 1971 for 12 weeks and have been used it ever since, even when the Mrs can't make it over, (conflicting schedules, etc) , I go without her, ie solo. She does likewise.

Posted by
332 posts

As an introverted solo traveler, I can only say ditto to all the good advice already given. One thing I will say is that I do a lot of research ahead of time, read advice from other travelers, ask questions, and then make decisions that I think work for me

This. It's a lot better IMHO to have done planning ahead of time so that you have more options than you have time for. If its raining then an indoor activity, or maybe walk under umbrella. If you're tired then you have thought of areas where you might want to go and sit in a cafe or park. If the weather is great then perhaps a walking tour, a stroll on your own, or reading a book in a nice park. And so on. There are a number of books you can find on Paris walks you can do on your own (and another plug for Paris Walks, great tours!) and I've also done some of the walks from the cards in the "City Walks Deck: Paris" deck

You didn't say how much time you are going to spend there but one option if you have several days is to plan a day trip. Rheims, Chartres, Dijon, Beaune, etc. are all within an hour or two by train.

Posted by
32 posts

Cate, I, too, am a solo traveler. Every evening I send out an email to friends which becomes my own travel diary as well as keeping friends informed and (I hope) entertained. A bonus is that I usually get some replies first thing in the morning which make me feel connected to home with encouragement to continue. You didn’t say what type of accommodation you have. I prefer small hotels in lively central neighborhoods. If you are friendly to the staff, they will look after you, suggesting places to see and restaurants in the neighborhood. If you are feeling lonely, you can read a book in the lobby and watch people come and go. I will be staying in St. Germain this August. If you can afford a bit of a splurge, get an upgraded room, the standard rooms can be tiny. I have seen some great looking tours where you meet the cook in a market, shop for food, then return to his/her place to cook and enjoy either lunch or dinner. Paris is beautiful. Just wandering around will delight you and perhaps you can stop into an out of the way church which is having a choir or organ rehearsal. Also, watch “Alice in Paris” on Amazon Prime. It consists of two minute vignettes which are absolutely charming. Good luck!

Posted by
12898 posts

Hi,

I would suggest thinking of the trip this way: Think of the sense of self-satisfaction and confidence gained upon your return. You'll say to yourself, "I did it, tackled Paris alone and enjoyed it immensely, regardless of my concerns, reservations, hesitations I had in the first place....all groundless and all mental"

If others (here, solo women) can so it, why can't you? Obviously, any health or physical issues aside...which leads to your answer, "then so can I."

Posted by
8299 posts

Fred is so right, that was my experience.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi Fred, Bill , Posies and Susan,
Thank you for your continued support, I'm super excited about my solo trip for all the reasons you've listed.
My husband recently said he'd go with me but I told him no.. he's not interested so... I can do this alone.

Thank you and I've taken each of your replies to heart and I know I can and will do this. ..

Yes, it's scary to the unknown but I'm so inspired by all of you, those are by the wayside now.

Posted by
774 posts

Hi Cate. I will be in Paris most of October on my own. If you will be there then, pm me, I would love to have a meal or a walk through a park with another solo traveller. Happy planning.

Posted by
12898 posts

Hi,

You're welcome.

Are you flying to CDG? After you land, follow the lines to Immigration, where your passport will be stamped. Baggage claim can be tedious, I've experience both delays and what I would call "normal" times when the first bag/piece is thrown out.

After that pay attention to the signs. The last time I landed at Paris CDG was in 2015, still I missed a sign, took the path towards the RER B. Unless no one is manning ticket counter, I suggest going to a counter, don't bother with a machine. I would rather wait in line (I happened not to in 2015) and deal with a person when buying the RER ticket.

You want the RER "B" which takes you to Gare du Nord. Buying from the ticket counter can be done with a credit card. I paid in cash. In 2015 the price was 10 Euro, might be more now.

Upon arriving at the terminus, Magenta/Gare du Nord (the stations blend together, sort of like Kings Cross/St Pancras in London), you need to go to the ground floor, ie street level. Take the escalator, unless you want the exercise of lugging the luggage up the stairs.

Once up the stairs you're in Gare du Nord, people swarming all over, could be daunting, just as in London or Berlin Hbf (central station) or Hamburg Hbf. Outside is the corner of Rue St Quentin and Rue de Dunkerque. For me arriving in Paris, this is it as my hotel is in this immediate area I just walk over there.

The lines for a taxi are your right, you'll see that. Be aware of the scammers if you take a taxi. Usually you have wait in line. Where is your hotel located?

Posted by
12898 posts

part 2 here...

"Yes, it's scary ...." You could see it that way but then can also say, "so what." It only appears that way, ie scary, because you don't know layout of Nord. After doing it once , twice, it'll be old hat.

Gare du Nord is a major junction point for the TGV, TER regional trains, the RER, the three Metro lines and the several buses outside, not to mention the EuroStar.