My niece is traveling alone to Paris for business. She has never been there and doesn't speak French. Most of the day time she will be busy. What areas are safer for women alone at night? Any suggestions for night activities? Do the boats still take their tours in December? Any suggestions for the best Paris at night tour? thank you
How old is this person?
Has she asked you for help in this matter?
In general, Paris is a safe city, and people are out and about on the streets at most hours. Dinner is later in Paris than in much of the US, and it lasts longer, so people are still walking home from dinner at 11 PM.
In terms of night activities, one is dinner, as I said above. If she's looking for bars or clubs, I can't help with these, but of course there are tons of them. Gay bars are often mentioned as a "safe" option for straight women; these are concentrated in the Marais, which has all kinds of other nightlife as well.
For "culture" (movies, theater, symphony, etc), the Pariscope magazine is sold on newsstands cheaply and has very thorough listings. It has a small English section, but most of it is decipherable without knowing too much French (Rick has a section in his guidebooks on how to use it). Paris has more movies showing than probably any other city in the world, and many are VO (original language with French subtitles), so it's a great opportunity to see a new release or golden oldie on the big screen. Just make sure the original is in English, and that it's not VF, which means dubbed in French. There are occasional English language plays, as well as French language productions of American musicals like Cabaret or The Lion King (minimal language barrier if you already know the show). And of course, dance, symphony, and the like have no language barrier.
Two of my favorite things to do at night are to go to the Trocadero (free) and see the incomparable view of the Eiffel Tower, and to climb the Arc de Triomphe (admission charged, but included with the Museum Pass) to see a great view of the city - including the Eiffel Tower. These are great by day as well, if she has free time. I did NOT enjoy going to Sacre Coeur at night (another famous view), due the large numbers of people drinking there; it felt much less pleasant than the Trocadero at night.
I was curious about the boat tours, so I looked at Bateaux Parisiens and Vedettes du Pont Neuf, which run smaller sightseeing boats on the Seine; these don't seem to run in December. The Bateaux Mouches, which runs bigger boats, will run, but the only guaranteed evening departure is 8:30; there are a few other evening departures which will run if there are at least 50 people. Link here (note that the dates are in European format of dd/mm, so for instance, Christmas day is 25/12).
It gets dark early in Paris in December, so she might want to do the boat tour Harold recommended earlier, @530 or so and then do dinner. That way she won't miss seeing Paris all lit up. One of my favorite memories, along with the lighting of the Tower. Took the grand daughter every night @ 10pm, to Trocadero Park, and just positioned ourselves near a family group, and felt quite safe. Walked back to the hotel in the Eiffel Tower district. Your Niece is going to have a ball!
Sandy,, relax she will be fine ( I have visited solo)
Paris is a great city for solo women, safe etc. Suggest as long as she is in a cnetral area she can do pretty well anything she wants ( re walking at night etc) .. its funny shes going for business and speaks no french.. but no worries she won't need much.. only hello and please and thank you .. makes sure she knows a cultural tip.. ALWAYS say "bonjour madame or monsieur " before absolutely any verbal communication .. getting a bus ticket, paying an admission, ordering a pastry.. always start with "bonjour" to not do so is seen as abrupt and rude ( ie, when getting a ticket we might normally go up to the clerk and say " one adult ticket please" .. thats wrong.. it must be " bonjour madame, one adult ticket please".. seems like a tiny difference. but they notice.
I love Marais/Ile Set Louis/Ile de la Cite at night, and don't feel unsafe at all (I'm a female who speaks very little French). There are a lot of people out and about in those areas...hardly any of them seemed sketchy when I was there. Even if she doesn't find a tour, she should find those places to be quite gorgeous at night. A leisurely dinner in Marais followed by a walk to Notre Dame to see it at night is wonderful in itself. Of course, I would just practice usual caution that follows with being in a big city (avoid dark alleys, etc).
Overall, Paris is a great city for solo travel. What neighborhood (or arrondissement) she stays in will likely be dictated by where her business meetings are going to be held. Regardless of what area she is staying in, she's on a business trip, which generally means that her company is going to pick up the tab on her transportation so although the Metro is relatively safe (even late in the evening), she can always take a taxi. Often when I travel on business, the meetings don't necessarily stop after the office closes. There is almost always a night (or two) that involve dinner or drinks with either someone from the local branch office, or with clients. She should be able to get some good suggestions as to what to do in the evening from some of the locals she will interact with in her business dealings. There should be plenty to do in December in the evening if she has any interest in theater, dance, music and depending on when she finishes her meetings, she might be able to squeeze in some museum time.