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Alone in Paris

Hello, I'm thinking about taking a trip to Paris by my self. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions about this. I am somewhat concerned about safety, but I am more concerned I will get lonely. I am an out going person and I do love to be with people, but the friend I am going with wants to spend more time in Italy I want more time in Paris so I am thinking about going it alone for 5 days. Are there other people/travelers I could meet? Maybe some tour groups I could join that would allow me some people interaction? Everyone has been very helpful so far and I am grateful. Thank you.

Posted by
104 posts

Pat, thank you so much for the reply.
I like the idea of being able to come and go as I please. I will check out the bike tours. Thank you for your input. :)

Posted by
137 posts

I will be going to Paris alone for 4 days before meeting up with a tour group in September. I have been to Paris before, once by myself and once with a friend. I have traveled solo to many other places. If I waited to travel with another, I would not be traveling much and travel is my passion. Safety is a small concern for me in Paris - as opposed to a huge concern in Zanzibar. Be aware of your surroundings - map out your journey before leaving the hotel (and I bring a small compass since I am directionally challenged), and use the hotel safe/money belt. My most nervous times are at the ATM when no one is there to watch my back - so I get as many Euros at one time as I can during daylight hours, minimizing my ATM concerns. Traveling solo has many benefits (freedom to go anywhere and do anything you want) and some drawbacks (loneliness at meal times, no one to watch luggage/your back). For the lonely part - I bring photos from home. I try to be approachable. I find it easier to dine alone abroad than at home - I have had many locals spontaneously chat it up with me based on my menu ions or conversations with wait staff. I usually try to hire local guides for some small group activity to provide me the social interaction I crave. This trip I am organizing a nightime photo tour with a professional photographer to help improve my photography, an evening market cooking class, and a wine tasting lunch. This way I have interaction but also the benefit of traveling solo. The bike tour sounds like a great idea as well. I also was given a book, I think, titled, "Gutsy Women Who Travel" that has many wonderful suggestions. Go for it and Have a blast!!

Posted by
11450 posts

Hi Stacy, I love going to Paris alone,, I have gone with friends and my kids on various visits there, but have always loved my trips alone best( perhaps a bit selfish, but I love not having to be the planner tourguide for others,, and like being able to come and go as I please) . Paris is great for a woman alone, I really enjoy it, and will go for at least 2 weeks a t a time. Yes, it would be nice to meet and talk to someone once in awhile, and in fact,, two years ago I started "chatting " to a regular poster on another site ( tripadvisor.com) and when we discovered we would be in Paris at same time we arranged to meet for a few things, a lunch, a trip out to Fontinbleu etc. . I also am a huge fan of Fat Tire Bike Tours, a friend talked me into trying the first one on a trip I took with her, and since then I have taken all of their offered tours( over 5-6 years) . They are easy and fun and people of all ages go on them, many solo travellers too. I am middleaged(well into those years) and had fun on a daytrip to Monets Gardens with a 25 yr old Australian girl who was working in France for the year and on a break,, so there is always an opportunity to meet and chat with others when the bit lonely bug hits.
Treasure the chance to do exactly what you want when you want,, not having to leave a museum before you are ready because someone else is tired or bored,, or having to go shopping for hours( I hate shopping) ..

Posted by
104 posts

Diane, thank you for the tips! I looked up the book you mentioned and I can't wait to read it. I do plan on trying to be in the hotel at night. Your brave for traveling alone so often, that is wonderful. I too will be in Paris in September, very early (last week of Aug and first of Sept). I plan on doing a couple of tours with groups, like you have planned. If I meet a Dian in one I'll be sure to ask if you read my post. lol How funny would that be. :) Also I think it is wonderful you have the opportunity to do a photo tour. I looked into those and want to but just can't budget it this time. I hope to some day.
Thank you again.

Posted by
1804 posts

I traveled for a year solo and my very 1st visit ever to Paris was during that trip. I stayed for over 2 weeks. It is probably one of the easiest cities in the world to travel solo as there is so much to do and the transit system is great. Also, the locals are very nice and extremely helpful as long as you make a small attempt to interact with them by starting off conversations in French. Even just learning how to say "Hello" "Thank you" "please" "Excuse me" and "Sorry, I don't speak French. Do you speak any English?" is more than enough to help you get by. I've found when traveling solo I interact with way more locals than I do if I have a friend joining me on a trip. You may want to consider a hostel instead of a hotel. They are no longer just for the under 25s who are backpacking Europe. If staying in a hostel dorm is too much for you, look into hostels that offer private rooms or at least a 2 or 4 bed room that is not co-ed so you may feel more comfortable rooming with other women travelers. At hostels you meet and interact with lots of other hostellers from around the world when you are using the kitchen or hanging about the lounge areas. It's easy to feel isolated when staying in a hotel or B&B type places as the vast majority of guests are usually traveling in pairs or with family. Hostels are full of other solo travelers & many offer organized tours or activities you can sign up for if you want to see the sights with other people. I don't recommend staying cooped up in your hotel all night once the sun goes down. Paris is amazing after dark. The locals dine very late into the evening so cafes & bistros are busy, main streets well lit, lots of great clubs. It'd be a shame to miss all that.

Posted by
4529 posts

A tip for eating solo since dinners and even lunches can last at least 2 hours. Bring a book or day journal to pass the time and feel less awkward. People watching is great for only so long and the waits between courses can be long. Sometimes traveling solo allows you to meet people you otherwise never would have if with your own group. And Paris is far more safe than any American city.

Posted by
1098 posts

Nice posts. Paris was my first vacation away from North America, and I did it all by myself. I knew I was set for a trip that I'd never forget. Was it lonely? For the most part no. I was able to see everything that I wanted to see, eat wherever I wanted to eat, and linger and smell the roses wherever I wanted to. I felt like the world was mine and waiting for me to explore it. I didn't waste a second and have no regrets. I've traveled a fair share by myself. Sure, you do miss having someone next to you in Giverny if just to say "Isn't this amazing?", but you soon get over it and live in the moment.

Posted by
14776 posts

The advice I got years ago is worth passing on. Look around you for someone else who seems to be alone and start a conversation. Most of the time, the other person will be very glad of the company. This has worked out very well for me, sometimes the other person was alone, but sometimes they were with others and included me in the group for a few hours or a couple of days. I have also learned that couples are often very happy to have SOMEONE ELSE to talk to after a few days alone together. And people who love to travel love to talk about their experiences and share travel tips. I don't mind dining alone, but you could always ask to join another single woman at a cafe or restaurant, too.

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you for the advice Ceidleh. I don't feel comfortable staying in a hostel. I have heard a lot of bad things about them and people who use them, I know for a fact that it can't be all true. I just know I wouldn't sleep well. Even when I was a kid and went to camp or traveled with social clubs in early college, I never sleep when other people are in a room with me. Though I have never heard of a hostel with single rooms. Thank you. Le Nogentais, thank you. Sounds like you have enjoyed it. :) Thank you Chani. That is such a good idea. I don't know why I didn't think to look for others who seem to be alone. I'm glad you have had good experiences. James, I do admit your right about me. (Not sure about the others they seem truly happy.) I did want my boyfriend to come but he is too wrapped up in some family responsibilities and can't make it. It's a shame I always thought he and I would have a wonderful romantic time. Thanks Swan. I mentioned above about hostels. I will take some tours too. I have been looking online and some of them just look amazing.
Thank you all for such good information. Such a helpful site. I know I have some reservations about doing it alone, but your posts have helped me feel much better about it. I feel a like I may just be able to do it. I mean its only 5 days, in the city that I have been dying to see since a child, how could I not love it, right? :) Thank you!

Posted by
19 posts

Traveling to Paris by yourself is AMAZING!!! I never once was concerned about my safety as long as you use common sense. Rick's book was very helpful for the three walking tours I did. And you must go to Legay Choc in the Marais section. The BEST citron tart you will ever have. I ate it all the way back to my hotel.
For dinners I would bring my journal each night and write down what I did. What I saw. What thoughts I had going through my head. It was a great way to relive it, to remember what I took pictures of, and a great reminder for home. By the end of writing I was done eating.

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you Beth. I will do my best to get that way for a pastry. :)

Posted by
14776 posts

Hostels aren't what they used to be. Check out hostelworld.com, many hostels offer single rooms at very affordable prices. You will still have the opportunity to meet other travelers in the dining room, lobby, whatever. Did anyone mention Paris Walks? You can download their brochure at their website. Except for the chocolate tour (sooo good), you just show up, pay the fee and join the tour - no advance booking, and they are good.

Posted by
137 posts

Stacy, my first trip to Paris was with my then boyfriend of 4 years (the operative word being THEN). I had visions of romance dancing through my head - anticipating loving gazes across the table as we dined on haute cuisine. . ., strolling hand in hand across lamplit bridges, discussing the fabulous works of art we had just seen and so on. Reality: He refused to take the metro, taxi or bus anywhere except the train to Versailles - We walked 14 or more miles each day. On day 4 this got very tiresome - my feet were so sore I could barely walk - he could have at least offered to massage them . . .:-). He refused to speak any French so the reception he received from waiters was well, pitiful. Gladly, they did not treat me the same as I butchered the French language. He announced upon our return he would accompany me back to Europe only IF: 1) he did not have to go into any museum, 2) he did not have to go to any art galleries/museums, 3) no castles/palaces 4) no shopping 5) and no churches. I still fell in love with Paris even though there was no romance in it at the time. The history, architechture, art, cafe culture, food, wine, markets, shopping, haute courture, churches, people watching all make for a wonderful trip sans romance. My next trip was solo. Long story short - don't stay in your hotel room at night. Plan on dining Parisian style at least one night - dress up, have fun, order something unique. I made myself dine Parisian style solo, worried I'd be snubbed by the waiters and have a miserable time. Instead I had two extremely attentive waiters who appreciated my butchery of the French tongue and I had one of the longest but best meals ever in my life - and made a discovery about myself. Priceless. I arrive on September 2 so I think we may just miss each other but have a fantastic time!

Posted by
524 posts

Stacy Second the Fat Tires Bike Tours. Evening ones as well. They may even have one to Versailles taking the train first and then biking to and around the Palace Gardens. Much more interesting to me than the Palace. Also check out Paris-Walks.com. They have a schedule by month posted. You do not need to reserve in advance. Meet at the Metro stop mentioned, pay the guide and off you go to see a mini neighborhood. Recommend the Two Islands, Montmartre and Marais tours. If they offer the Chocolate or Foodie Tour, by all means reserve these 2. Slightly more expensive but worth it! Both of these are perfect ways to meet other like minded travelers to have someone to talk to or to plan a meal, with later, etc. Please don't stay in your room at night. Besides the sun will still be setting later in the evening. Also suggest you stay in the 4th 5th or 6th Arrondissement (neighborhoods) which are hopping in the evening. Bobbie Have Fun!

Posted by
4529 posts

Diane - kudos to you! And if I may say, you're better off without him! Vive la France!

Posted by
1153 posts

Lucky you. There is a great difference between loneliness and solitude. Think about it. You will have wonderful experiences when you reach out to the adjacent table in the bistro, agree to dance with the handsome stranger in the late night club, engage the Chinese girl waiting in line at Notre Dame, offer to buy a coffee (cafe) to the other single person in line behind you. It will not get any better than Paris being single..... Make the most of it.

Posted by
104 posts

Diane- thank you for the boost of confidence. Glad you had a good trip the second time around. Bobbie- thank you for the info. I have looked into Fat Tires and Paris Walks. They look really neat. I so hope to get the chocolate one! :) George – also thank you for the reassurance. Still really unsure about the hostel idea, but we'll see. Also I just wanted to clarify that I didn't plan on holding up in my hotel/room/place I stay all evening. I know the sunset there will be 9:15pm and I don't want to be out past 11 or so. Mostly too because I think I will want rest for my next day of exploring. :) Having read all your posts makes me feel like I can do this and its going to be not just fun but fabulous! Thank you all so very much! :)

Posted by
1804 posts

@James: RE: "Reviving love on the Helpline". Ummm, no thanks. I suspect most of the men on this Helpline are so old that if I ask them if they are carrying "protection", they will show me their Rick Steves money belt. @Stacy: The website Chani recommends is a good one for hostel reviews. You can see what others say about the safety, cleanliness & location of the hostel. A private room in a hostel can give you added piece of mind if you are worried a bunk mate may steal something from you. Although I can tell you that I've stayed at lots of hostels (in both private and shared rooms) and have never had anything taken. But I do always read the reviews before I book to make sure the majority don't have the same complaints over & over. I'm not sure what negative info you have gotten about hostels, but over the past few years the demographic has really changed unless the hostel is specifically advertising itself as a "party spot". Many solo hostellers are now women from their mid 20s up into their late 60s. A hostel often offers extra amenities that are free to low cost such as access to laundry facilities, WiFi and Internet kiosks, breakfast and/or kitchen privileges, a tour desk, etc. If a hotel is still the route you want to take, that's fine, too. I stayed at an Ibis Hotel once while solo in Paris and had a great trip, but everyone there was either a business traveller or with family and the lobby was frequently empty except for the hotel staff. Everyone I met during that trip was met outside of that hotel.

Posted by
355 posts

There are also free tours through "Paris Greeters". I had wanted to take one of these tours on my last visit, but wasn't able to work it in. I have read great things about the tours. You can arrange the tours ahead of time through their website. The tour guides are local volunteers, and the tours are one-on-one. It might be a fun thing to do - stroll the streets with a parisien, seeing the city through their eyes. www.parisiendunjour.fr Have fun!

Posted by
14776 posts

The free tours are sorta free. You are expected to "tip" the guide what you felt it was worth. The Paris Walks chocolate tour is WONDERFUL. I took a Fat Tire segway tour that was much fun, but I was a bit tense the whole time that I was going to tip over in the dark. During the day, when you can see what you are riding over, it should be a breeze.

Posted by
1711 posts

Stacy - lots of good advice here. I've traveled solo to Europe several times and always plan a few extra days before meeting up with a RS tour. Paris is fabulous and I never felt unsafe. There's so much to see and do and it's also a perfect place to "do nothing". My advice, get a map, a museum pass and a carnet of metro tickets and head out! For my next trip, I'm thinking about taking a cooking class and the chocolate tour. Sounds like they would both provide opportunities to meet some nice people. Hope you have a great time! Ceidleh - very funny, you have a good sense of humor!

Posted by
94 posts

Hi Stacy, I highly recommend the Fat Bike tour of Versailles!! it was one of the highlights of our trip...such a unique day. We had a fun group and saw things most tourists don't get to see. They take you to visit the most incredible market in Versailles where you get all the makings of a picnic lunch, then bike onto the grounds of the palace for lunch on the Grand Canal with a view of the palace. Then, of course a tour of the palace. Truly a memorable day, and you will meet the nicest people!!!

Posted by
31435 posts

Stacy, You've received some great advice and suggestions so far! I have a few comments to add..... I'm not sure what you've heard about staying in Hostels, but my experiences have always been good. Of course, getting used to "communal living" in Dorm rooms requires a bit of adjustment. I tend to stay at HI Hostels much of the time, and find they're well run (NOT party Hostels) and the facilities are fairly consistent from one location to another. Most these days provide Lockers so that you can keep valuables somewhat secure (you'll have to provide your own Padlock however. Many Hostels don't provide Towels or Soap, so you'll have to pack that along as well. One advantage of Hostels is that there's lots of people around to visit with, and easy to find others to tour with. If you think you'd prefer the privacy of a Hotel, the cost will likely not be much different than a private room in a Hostel. If you can find a copy at your local Library or Bookstores, you might want to have a look at the Paris or France Guidebooks, as they have lots of suggestions for good but inexpensive Hotels in various parts of Paris. Regarding your fear of "being lonely", I usually travel solo so have a good idea of that. I find that I'm usually more outgoing when I'm on my own, so don't have any trouble finding people to talk to. Also, the "locals" or other travellers will more readily approach a single than they will a couple. You might find that the situation is not as bad as you imagined? Be sure to plan your touring well, as there's LOTS to see in Paris! You might consider buying a two-day Paris Museum Pass in order to minimize time in queues. Happy travels!

Posted by
2349 posts

" I suspect most of the men on this Helpline are so old that if I ask them if they are carrying "protection", they will show me their Rick Steves money belt." Will RS start selling a "dual use" money belt? Always looking for ways to pack lighter!