Rick's Paris in 7 Days - Solo?

Okay...for some of you veterans, this may be a silly question. I'm 47 and haven't traveled on my own and having only been to Europe once (Germany with my husband) I am a little nervous to sign up for the Rick Steve's Best of Paris in 7 days. My husband does not have the same passion for travel as I do and I don't have anyone else who wants to go. I'm thinking of going by myself in May 2014, arriving 2 days early and enjoying the City of Lights solo. I guess I'm nervous about arriving early and being on my own for a few days. Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Anyone ever done Rick's "Best Of" trips anywhere?? Thanks all.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1058 posts

Yes, I have taken RS tours solo and have enjoyed them. There will likely be other people traveling solo and you will make friends in the group. I'd suggest you arrive just one day early, then add any additional days after the tour, when you are more confident and perhaps others on your tour will be staying a few days too. You could either tour together or meet for dinner. It's not a silly question at all. You can do it and I think you will love Paris!

Posted by Kathy
Chatham, Canada
4 posts

I have done 4 RS tours solo and I had a wonderful time. You meet terrific and friendly people. Do arrive a couple days early and/or stay a couple days after the tour. You will not regret it and you will have a wonderful time!

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
956 posts

Well, I would think that taking a tour is kind of the opposite of going "solo!" You have a bunch of built-in travel companions! As for being solo for a couple of days before the tour, I would not sweat it. I am almost exactly your age and female and I find Paris to be charming and welcoming when I am doing things alone. I frequently go off alone for entire days if hubby and I are there and we want to do different things... and I have never run into any trouble or any hassle or even any "why are you alone, woman?!" looks. Of course, I have experience as a solo traveler... but you have to start somewhere, and 2 days is easily do-able. And there's so much to do! You can easily spend half a day in one cafe, watching people. And if you like to shop, there goes the rest of that day. Then there is just one more to fill. Maybe look up some things that won't be on the tour and tackle one of them! Have a blast! It isn't hard to do in Paris.

Posted by Lesley
Sidney, BC, Canada
335 posts

RS tours are perfect for those of us who travel solo but like to have some companionship of some sort. I have done 3 tours and am looking at Istanbul as my next one! I did Rome in 7 days last year and loved the couple of days I spent by myself. I stayed at the tour hotel, taught myself the Metro/transist system and visited places I wanted to see that were not on the tour. One thing I did that I would recommend to anyone is doing a food tour. The one I did in Rome was terrific - have a look and see if there is something similar in Paris. Good luck!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Pennycandy.. not really solo on a tour.. I have however visited Paris solo , several times , in my 20s, 30s. 40s, and trust me, you will be fine, tour or not.
The only suggestion I have is to book your air to arrive one day before tour and stay an extra two days AFTER tour,, since after tour you will have already been taught how to use the metro, buses, and all sorts of tips.. you will feel alot more confident on your on after the tour.

Posted by Cristina
Northern, Italy
208 posts

My first trip to Europe was to do a RS tour of Paris, solo. But since I was trying to reserve on line over a weekend, it was full, so I ended up doing the 7 day Rome tour. I was 36 at the time. I enjoyed it so much. Since my flight was in to Paris and to change the ticket was going to cost me more than to just buy a separate one way ticket to Rome from Paris, I had an over night in Paris. I ended up doing a Segway night tour of Paris on my 30 hour layover. You will meet people on the tour. There will most likely be some other solo travelers. I was the youngest solo traveler by about 10yrs but on our evening non group dinners i always had some one to go along with . If you love to travel, and don't mind some wondering around on your own, I say go for it. I really want not alone much of the time.

Posted by Leslie
Colville, WA
252 posts

My first trip to Europe was on the RS Best of Britain. I was traveling solo and pretty nervous that first day on my own. By the end of the trip, I couldn't wait to get home and book my next trip - first part on my own in London, took the Eurostar to Paris and met up with a tour of France. I would recommend that if you can go longer than a week, you look at the Paris and Heart of France tour. You start out with three days in Paris, see some magnificent sights in other parts of France and by the time you return to Paris at the end, you will feel like you are coming home. Finish up with a day or two in Paris seeing what you missed. This year,two people I met on my first trip and I, are doing our 6th trip together.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

PennyCandy, As the others have said, don't worry about travelling solo for a few days before the tour, as with adequate preparation you shouldn't have any problems. I've taken seven RS tours, and always bounce around Europe for at least an equal length of time on my own both before and after the tours. I'd highly recommend arriving at least two days prior to the tour (and possibly three days), as you'll need to get over jet lag. Keep in mind that you'll generally arrive in Europe the day after you depart the U.S., so be sure to plan for that. The tour office will provide the name of the hotel you'll be using and it's a good idea to stay in the same hotel as the tour (however you may have to change rooms once the tour begins). The tour information will indicate which sights will be covered on the tour. Arriving early will give you an opportunity to visit any places you want to see that aren't covered on the tour. As someone else suggested, it might also be worthwhile to stay an extra few days after the tour. By that time, you'll probably be able to manage quite nicely on your own, and will feel more confident in travelling solo. Depending on your time and budget, a few possibilities would be to book open-jaw flights and spend a few days in London or Rome before returning home. There are all kinds of possibilities. Good luck with your planning!

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1410 posts

GO! it will be wonderful. My first trip to Europe was doing the very same tour, as a solo, in 2001 -- it was great! I've been back to Paris 9 times since then. I suggest taking the extra days after the tour has ended, when you will have all the skills you need to get around, will feel more confident, and will know what sights you want to see that may not have been covered by the tour.
Have a great time.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2529 posts

Instead of arriving before the tour, how about spending your solo days in Paris after it ends? That way you will have had a very good orientation to the city and transportation and will have a better idea of what to see/do.

Posted by Donna
Cleveland, OH
290 posts

Penny, I've done 4 RS tours solo - Paris in 7 Days was my first one and I had a great time! In my experience, the city tours attract more single travelers (on my tour it was about 50%) so there will probably be a lot of people in your same situation. I always arrive at least 1 day in advance to get over the jet lag and to see some of the things that won't be covered on the tour. When the tour is over, I'm ready to go home. In Paris, you might want to do the Eiffel Tower, the Pompidou or Rodin museums, take a boat ride on the Seine or shop/have lunch at the Galleries Lafayette department store (the architecture is beautiful). Hope you have a great time in Paris!

Posted by PennyCandy
Detroit, MI, United States
3 posts

Wow! Thank you everyone for the stories, support and encouragement. I booked the trip to Paris in May. I'm actually doing this!! Unfortunately, I have limited time off from work, so I can only arrive prior to the group tours. From the itinerary posted, it does not appear that the tour visits the Eiffel Tower so that is my solo venture! Eiffel Tower and a picnic with wine, croissant & cheese and a cafe for the afternoon. Thank you to all of you for your kind words and encouraging posts. Je vais a Paris!

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
638 posts

I am so happy you decided to take the plunge. I have been on several RS tours as a solo and always enjoyed it. I agree with Grier that arriving a day early and then staying solo after is the optimal way, but understand work restraints. I did the Rome 7 day solo and we had more 'singles' on that tour than any other I have taken. You will have a terrific time. My only suggestion is to arrange transport from airport with your hotel. I did that in Paris and it was much less stressful than trying to figure out public transportation when I was jet lagged. (And I like public transportation.)

Posted by John
Van Nuys, CA, USA
155 posts

Congrats on booking the trip. I'm sure you'll have a great time! 3 pieces of advice. First, it helps to learn a little french before you go. Some people say the French can be snobby, but I always have had pleasant encounters in Paris and elsewhere. However I also have a personal rule that I always start conversations in french. To be honest about 20-30 words are enough to get you by. I found the Pimsleur tapes very helpful. There are 120 30-minute lessons altogether, and I did them all, although the 1st 60 are more than enough. It is all audio; you listen and then answer in the conversation. I did them in my car commuting to work. They are expensive to buy, but most libraries have them so you can borrow them for free. Any version, no matter how old, works. Second, a bit of politeness goes a long way. The first words out of your mouth when talking to someone, ALWAYS, are "Bonjour monsieur/madame". The French expect it, and anything else is seen as rude. You should also say it to the shopkeeper if you enter a small store to browse around. Third, if you haven't traveled much then you might not know whether jetlag affects you or not. I am unfortunately someone that doesn't do great with time zone changes. What has helped me is to try to do some adjusting before I go. I start about 2 weeks before my trip and every 2-3 days get up 30 minutes earlier and go to bed 30 minutes earlier. I can shift myself 4-5 hours that way, and for me it helps. If your schedule accomodates this its something you might want to consider.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

I strongly disagree with the advice to allow your hotel to arrange transport from hotel .. very strongly disagree. Take a licenced taxi from the proper well marked and signed Taxi stand.. they are metered and properly regulated. It will cost between 45-55 euros. Hotels arrange transfers for up to 100 EUROS.. a silly rip off.

Posted by ann
staten island, new york, usa
169 posts

I have been on the Paris, Rome, Florence, Ireland, France(15 day, now it is 13 days), tours all alone. I don't have someone to got with, so if I don't go, I don't get to see things and have a good vacation! Go! You will always have someone ( group dinners) to eat with, you may find couples or singles to do things in your free time and if you don't then you will go on your own to see what you want to see. You have the tour guide to ask questions on where and how to go and where to eat. Use the Paris book, it will be your bible. Arrive early but if you can stay a day or two after the tour, it may be worth it. Find out about the bus that goes into Paris and then take a cab from there. Better than a cab into Paris. Just be mindful of your suitcase and purse and you will be fine. If you have any questions, email me.

Posted by ann
staten island, new york, usa
169 posts

Before you go to Paris, of course you will read the Paris RS guide book, look at what you want to see on your own. Get to Paris, ask the hotel for directions and go to see what you want to see. My opinon, I would go one day in advance and stay after the tour, so that you know your way around Paris. They will teach you how to use the metro and it is easy and this way you will know how to get around Paris. And try to get a map before you go! If you are staying in the Rue Cler area, the Eiffel tower and the Rodin Museuem is in walking distance and the tour does not go to either one. You will be fine.

Posted by ann
staten island, new york, usa
169 posts

I read you post and understand that you cannot stay after the tour. Then make a list of the things you want to do before the tour and do what you can before the tour. What makes it easier for me and have things go smoothly is being organized. I keep a folder with the tour directions, map, emails from the hotel and other reservations and anyother paper work together so I know what I am doing. If I have a problem, I just pull out the paper work. I also make copies of my credit cards for home and with me so if anything happens I have the credit card numbers and credit card phone numbers and a copy of my passport for home and with me. It is piece of mind. I also call my bank and visa to tell them I am traveling. All makes for a smoother trip. You will have a great time.

Posted by ann
staten island, new york, usa
169 posts

I can understand that you are nervous, but it is like going to any other city. Go to a museum and look at the wonderful art work. Go to the Eifel tower and walk around and take photos. Go to Notre Dame church and walk around the area around Notre Dame into all the wonderful shops. Have a plan, keep the hotel name and address with you, take only the amount of money you will need per day. Take one credit card with you. You will enjoy your time on your own because you will have the mind set that you are in Paris and going to make the most of it. Use the RS guide book and take it with you. If you get lost, stuck, go into a hotel, ( they always speak English) and ask them for directions. A hotel is the best source for help and directions. I have done this even in the USA and they will help you. You will enjoy Paris. It is a very pretty city.

Posted by PennyCandy
Detroit, MI, United States
3 posts

Love reading everyone's comments and great suggestions. Thankfully I do speak french very well after living in Montreal for almost 2 years. Certainly enough to maintain a conversation, ask directions and order a meal. Now that I have made a decision, I am already deciding on where to stay and what to do. Appreciate all the great ideas, tips & thoughts. Keep them all coming! ~ PennyCandy

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
250 posts

Congrats on booking this tour, I have done this one as a solo and really enjoyed it. My advice is plan your free time well, you will get a tourbook from RS. You may want to plan in advance by using the library for a tourbook or other books. Look at the locations of what is included and make a list of what you might want to do near there if you have free time. I usually make a detailed list of options for each days free time, and I may or may not do them, but I saved time by mapping out a potential plan. Some days I do not do any of my carefully planned options, but might choose to sit in a cafe for a few hours. Since my RS Paris trip I have returned twice on my own; the guide gives you great info on how to get around the city on your own. I also suggest reading some of the suggested readings that are listed on the site with the tour. There might also be reading list suggestions on the graffiti wall or search the helpline archives. I enjoy reading books related to my holiday destination; it keeps me excited for months before the trip (and after)

Posted by ann
staten island, new york, usa
169 posts

In order to determine what you want to do in your free time, not only will you be reading the RS Paris book, looking at the map of Paris, but go on the RS website where people post their scrapbooking photos and see what Paris looks like and where people have been so you can get ideas of where and what you want to do. That is our I picked my Ireland tour from the scrapbooks. Read people's text and you will see what people did, felt, and you will get ideas of what to bring, wear, do and be better prepared for the tour and free time. I have gone around Paris and I don't speak French and I had no problems. You do and that will make things even easier for you!

Posted by Rose
Indianapolis, Indiana, usa
355 posts

I've been to Paris many times and I always have the hotel book a shuttle for my return trip to the airport. I do it early in my trip. It's always inexpensive, on time, and very easy. You need to allow time for them to pick up a few more people along the route - sometimes I'm first, sometimes not. It's certainly cheaper than a taxi and handier.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Rose since you have done this many times to you recall the price?

Posted by Rose
Indianapolis, Indiana, usa
355 posts

Pat, 29 euros comes to mind. My last trip out of Paris was about 5 yrs ago. I just googled Paris shuttles & looked at one. The price for a single person on a shared shuttle is 31 euros - up 2 euros, but to your door service. I've always taken the Roissy bus in to the city and a shuttle back out to the airport.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Well it does not apply in this case as Penny will be solo, but for a couple taking a 31 euro shuttle is a terrible deal.. as you say they stop and pick up and drop off others, and for two it would be 62 euros.. where as a taxi would be 45-55 euros and is door to door.

Posted by Rose
Indianapolis, Indiana, usa
355 posts

You are right Pat, it wouldn't be good for a couple or a family, but PennyCandy is a solo traveler which is why I wanted her to know that having the hotel arrange a shuttle could be a very good idea.

Posted by Jonna
Orange, CA, USA
10 posts

Penny,
I think your idea is perfect. Whenever I go on a RS tour, I add on days before and after. Going two days early will help you adjust to the time difference. I find that a few days solo combined with a tour is the best way to enjoy my European visits. JonnaRob Orange, CA

Posted by Sharon
TX
505 posts

You will have a wonderful time. On our two RS tours, there were always solo travelers who had a blast. There is no greater thrill than landing in Paris for the first time and hearing the flight attendant say "Bienvenue a Paris!"

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Hi neighbor... you will have a great time. I have traveled there a few times on my own, never taken an RS tour, usually just plan my own trip, but this is a good way for you to take the first step to traveling on your own. I did take a tour a few years ago as I wanted to check out a tour company for future use, and I did a 7 day city tour of Paris. There were lots of great people and everyone is pretty friendly and happy when traveling, so I am sure you will make some great travel friends.

Posted by Debi
Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
257 posts

As others have said, this is a wonderful opportunity and you will have a great time in the most beautiful city in the world. I would say the only downfall of traveling solo is that you cannot turn to your travel partner to share something
wonderful that you discover! Take a photo and share later. Happy Travels!

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
233 posts

PennyCandy, I'll be in Paris at beginning of May. I sent you a PM. I am taking my 4th RS tour and began European solo travel by adding pre and post nights to the tours. Now, I am comfortable and confident to go off on my own from I have learned so much from the guides and meeting other travelers who have been
around the world. I'm confident you'll enjoy yourself and be planning your next trip on your return flight home. Happy travels!