60th Birthday Solo 5 Days in Paris

PREFACE: Many years ago my high school offered Latin, Spanish and German for foreign languages. I embarked on a campaign to get French offered and got the job done by the time I was a junior—which gave me two years in high school plus another in college. (Later years, wished I’d taken Spanish, but the French did help me learn Spanish.) I always wanted to visit France/Paris; but while I’ve done some other traveling, never made it. Finally, at the first of this year and facing my 60th birthday, I decided it was time to go. On January 25 I purchased a non-stop ticket to Paris departing February 27. This trip is one of the best things I’ve done for myself, and here’s my trip report. While I’ll provide a day-to-day outline, I’ll also make some preliminary comments in some categories that I see folks ask questions about on the RS travel forums.
SOLO TRAVEL: Most prior solo travel has been work-related, but I have a habit of integrating stops at local points of interest/history. I’m in my third decade of marriage but we’re not joined at the hip, and in addition to this not being the best time year for us both to be away, I just wanted to do this myself. Advantages of solo travel were confirmed for me on this venture. One example: While waiting in line for admission to a Paris attraction, two folks in front of me were joined after about 20 minutes by the other two in their foursome who announced that they weren’t really “into” this and didn’t want to stand in line and besides, they were hungry – “let’s go get something to eat.” So the two in line ahead of me gave in and (reluctantly) left their place in line. Nice of them to compromise for the sake of the foursome. But I smiled to myself and thought—I don’t have to discuss my choices or compromise with anyone. Not that it isn’t nice to share travel experience with friends and family – but at least for me, this time, I thoroughly enjoyed the solo adventure. I was out and about in Paris from early morning ‘til late at night, and not once did I feel uncomfortable or insecure. Even if I wasn’t quite sure of my route, I acted like I was – so what if I’m going in the wrong direction? – I’ll figure it out and get someplace eventually. Being solo, I engaged in more conversations and interactions with locals – which for me is a big part of the pleasure of travel, either at home or abroad.
TIME OF YEAR--CROWDS: I arrived on Feb 28 and departed on the morning of March 5. This coincided with my birthday – but I’d consider this timing again because of the relative lack of crowds. Yes, I had some cool and rainy weather and didn’t get to enjoy the colorful splendor of gardens as I would at other times of the year – no leaves on trees, just a few bulbs starting to emerge. But, folks I visited with told me the crowds will swell exponentially with each week into spring and summer. The trade-off of not feeling packed in with the hordes either on the streets, at cafés/restaurants, or at sites I visited was well worth it.
ITINERARY: I had no specific itinerary except for a couple of items which I’ll note later. In the weeks prior to this trip, I made a list of places I wanted to see, things I wanted to do, along with short notes (websites, days closed, hours, addresses etc.) Each night I checked weather and planned accordingly for the next day. On Day 1 (arrival day) I used just Velib bikes and walking; and the other 4 days added Metro (subway) to the mix. It was not my goal to cram in everything possible into these 5 days. Rather, I wanted to be present in Paris – feel like I had been there and absorbed some sense for the place, the people – not just dashing from site to site. You might want to see the thread I started on SOAKING UP PARIS https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/soaking-up-paris -- many great replies and recommendations there.

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

FUNDS: My main source of cash was a VISA Travel Card obtained through my credit union for a $4 fee, then loaded with cash. This works like an ATM/debit card but with the added security that nobody can hack into my bank account (think “Target”). My intent was that unless I had an emergency, I wouldn’t use my credit card—just the cash from the travel card. I used it everywhere EXCEPT as with most US debit or credit cards, not in machines (like train tickets). There’s a $500/300E daily ATM withdrawal limit. Problem arose on the last night when I tried to pay my hotel bill (Hotel St Pierre), and the desk clerk (not a “regular”) kept saying that it was being denied. I emailed my credit union, they called VISA and told me that the hotel was trying to run the charges through as an ATM withdrawal – not as a purchase – and since the hotel bill exceeded the ATM withdrawal limit, it was denied. I told the desk clerk to run it as a purchase – but this was seemingly beyond him. I went to an ATM and withdrew 300E (my limit) and put the balance on my credit card. Kind of irked me, but I think the problem was with the desk clerk, not the travel card.

HOTEL ST PIERRE: I’d asked for hotel recommendations – see this thread -- https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/paris-5-days-hotel-recommendation. Other than the note above, this was a great choice for me. Paid 482E for 5 nights, loved the location. Nice little café/restaurant/bar next door, and the Patisserie Vienoisse (that David Leibovitz recommends for their Chocolate Chaud (it is heavenly!)) two doors in the other direction. NO view from my 4th-floor window, but I wasn’t there much. Tiny elevator, room and shower – no problem for me, but be aware – I know people that would not fit into the shower and would have a tough time in the elevator.
LANGUAGE: I freshened-up my four-decades-old French language skills prior to this trip and was extremely pleased with how well this served me. I had entire, long conversations with people who I’m sure spoke some English, but they clearly decided they were more comfortable with my rudimentary French while they took their time and spoke slowly – sometimes popping in a few words of English now and then. Even if you know NO French, I’d recommending making a list of the 10-20 phrases or questions you think you’d be most likely to use, memorize/practice them, and don’t hesitate to try to use them. People will love you for trying, it will open so many doors.

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

DAY 1 (including NOTRE DAME and EIFFEL TOWER): A non-stop, overnight flight landed me at CDG on the (rainy) morning of my 60th birthday – what could be better? RER B train ticket machines accept only coins, not paper Euros (and as noted above, not my US credit or travel card). Skipped the long line at the staffed ticket windows and found a change machine to get coins for a 20E note . . . purchased my RER B ticket and was on my way into the city. Prior to departure from home, I’d used Google Maps to find the route to Hotel St Pierre from the RER/metro stop, then used Street View to virtually “walk” it. When I emerged from the Metro at the St Michel Fountain, I walked to my hotel without missing a beat. (I’m a light packer, never check luggage – just my old LLBean book bag plus a small (12x16x8”) 2-wheel carry-on.) I’d alerted the hotel of early arrival seeking to drop off luggage – but I was able to check into my room, deposit belongings and head out. NOTRE DAME – one of my must-sees – is about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Spent quite a bit of time on the plaza before heading inside, enjoyed seeing people from all over the world, watched some folks feeding pigeons, etc. Once inside, I was free to walk about, explore, admire, contemplate. (I’ve heard that during peak tourist seasons, people slowly shuffle about with the crowd.) I took a seat in the front row for the Noon mass, closed my eyes to meditate. Sharing that worship experience with both locals and others was profound and the fact that it was in French took nothing from it. I’m a non-Roman-Catholic-Christian but they don’t ask for ID at the door and I think folks of many faiths seeking a significant spiritual experience would find meaning in it. Then I was back outside seeking a good look at the eastern façade and those flying buttresses, so spent time in Square Jean XXIII. I realized that I was hungry and headed across the street to Café Esmeralda for a sandwich and then a stroll around Ile de la Cité. Kept my eye on the clock because I had a 3:30pm ticket for the top of the Eiffel Tower on my 60th birthday and it was a 5K Velib bike ride away.
EIFFEL TOWER (and 1st Velib Bike Ride): Prior to departure I’d purchased on-line a 1-week Velib pass for 8E, had my 8-digit code + 4 digit pin – so picked up a Velib bike at a nearby station. [There’s a thread and my report on Velib bikes here: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/velib-bikes-in-paris ] I had a map and a general idea of a route through neighborhoods and expected that the journey would likely take me more than 30 minutes (the “free” Velib limit) so watched for another station en route to park and grab a new bike (for a new 30 minutes). I got off-course a couple of times while also learning to navigate the streets of Paris. A couple of times I was unnerved by honking, but soon decided they weren’t honking at me and just ignored it, enjoyed the neighborhoods that I was passing through. Then I encountered rain showers – not a hard Midwestern thunderstorm, but fairly steady rainfall. I put up my hood and kept going. When I stopped on a corner to re-orient myself, I turned around and saw the biggest, brightest rainbow I’ve ever seen. It was so close and bright, felt like I could almost touch it. If I’d been on the Metro I wouldn’t have seen that rainbow and it’s something I’ll always remember about my 60th birthday in Paris.

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

DAY 1 (continued): Another great thing about SOLO travel—just 4 weeks before my visit I was able to snag a SINGLE ticket (last one available) to the top of the Eiffel Tower at 3:30pm. I walked right in, went through the security, and got into a little group waiting for the next elevator to the top. This was where I first encountered line-jumpers – so very anxious to push ahead of me. I’m like – whatever – if this is going to make your day to get ahead of me, knock yourself out.  One thing I noticed – the line-jumpers were never French (locals) – it was always people from other countries which will remain nameless. Anyway – I made my way to the summit. It had stopped raining and while the skies were not clear, the views were phenomenal. It was busy, but the lack of huge crowds allowed me to lollygag about, gazing out, taking pics, pinching myself: It’s-my-birthday-and-I’m-in-Paris-at-the-top-of-the-Eiffel-Tower. Wow. I went down to the next level and I’ll agree with those who say that the views from this level are quite incredible – and unless you have a big reason for wanting to go to the top, a ticket to the second level is more than adequate for a marvelous Eiffel Tower experience. Once back on the ground, I strolled about the open areas, took more photos, and as it got dark, saw the tower illuminated and then the first 5-minute sparkling light show of the evening.

PARIS LIGHTS BIKE RIDE–Along the Seine from Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame: My return bike plan was to ride along the Seine back toward Notre Dame. It was dark, traffic was heavy, but Velibs have automatic lights and I had a marvelous experience seeing the lights of Paris along the Seine. Some folks pay for someone to drive them around Paris in a car at night. I had a great ride, beautiful views, arrived at the Fountaine St Michel and parked at a nearby Velib station. By then, I was getting tired and walked to the Monoprix a block from my hotel, went down into the grocery department for some cheese, bread, fruit, yogurt and a bottle of wine, headed back to the hotel to unpack, settle in for the night, and plan my next day. I felt that I’d had an exceptional 60th birthday.

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

DAY 2: The international Salon de L’agriculture was in town from Feb 22-March 2 at the Paris Porte de Versailles exhibition center, and it was on my list of things to do. I’d considered heading out there on Friday night (my arrival date) because it would be open until 11pm that night only – but decided I was too tired and would make that my main Saturday activity. Short report about my visit here: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/paris-international-agricultural-show (and there’s a link there from another poster to a David Leibovitz description of the event with lots of photos – very well done). A few additional comments – I rode Velib bikes from my hotel – about a 6K ride. I switched bikes at a station near Gare Montparnasse to stay within the 30-minute limit. Once again, I was able to see so much on my way through the neighborhoods, including an open-air fruit/vegetable market. Also stopped to ask directions a couple of times and had nice conversations with locals. At the show – many conversations and interaction with agriculture-related exhibitors from all regions of France. For me, this was all part of “soaking up Paris” and I loved it. It was well worth the day and I stayed until the 7pm closing. I took the Metro back to my hotel/neighborhood—my first experience with the Metro and found it easy to use. It was probably around 8pm so I stopped at the hotel, dropped off some things, freshened up and went out for a bite to eat, strolled around, and started plotting . . . how am I going to get back to Paris?

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

DAY 3: PHOTO TOUR and MONTMARTRE/SACRE COEUR: I’m no super-photographer, but I’ve enjoyed photography over the years and decided to “splurge” (like, a trip to Paris wasn’t splurge enough?) on a private half-day Better Paris Photos tour to learn more about how to use my camera and make sure that I got some good photos while in Paris. This was a 5-star experience. I grabbed a Velib bike at the station around the corner from my hotel and rode over to the Louvre to meet Elena by the Pyramid. After spending time there in the plaza we walked on to the L’Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, through Jardin des Tuileries (pretty space, but no blooms to see at this time of year), and continued to the (big) L’Arc de Triomphe. We took a short metro ride to the Bir-Hakeim Metro station and walked in that area which allowed me to get some interesting shots of the Eiffel Tower from different vantage points. In regard to this experience, I found Elena to be very patient, an excellent instructor, she helped me to think more about my photo compositions and get my camera off the auto setting. Not only did I get better photos that day and for the remainder of my time in Paris, but I learned things that I will use in future photography, travel and otherwise. Great conversation too! L’Arc de Triomphe du CARROUSEL: Just a note to say I was struck with this smaller L’Arc de Triomphe – I’d never heard of it – and have the impression that many folks just walk right by. It’s a magnificent piece of art-design-architecture and worth your time. Upon finishing the photo tour, got back on the Metro at Bir-Hakeim and got off at Anvers . . . and started my exploration of MONTMARTRE which I absolutely loved – must be the Bohemian or the wanna-be-artist in me. For a Sunday afternoon, it just was not very crowded and I took my time exploring the streets and alleys on the way up to Sacre-Coeur. At the steps of Sacre-Coeur, there was a variety of entertainment . . . I most enjoyed the fellow doing a one-man puppet show that I’m pretty sure was about St. Francis. Inside Sacre-Coeur, I was ready for a rest, and moved to the area identified for silence, meditation and prayer. In particular, the apse mosaic “Christ in Glory” is spectacular. I departed Sacre-Coeur to explore the surrounding neighborhood and had the most fun ducking into shops, a light sandwich in one café, and what I came to think of as my daily dose of Paris chocolate in a patisserie. PLACE DU TERTRE was a highlight of my trip – could have spent hours there conversing with and admiring the artists and their artwork. Oh, and the Musee de Montmartre was charming – would love to see the vineyards and gardens in bloom, but the trade-off of no crowds was so worth it. As the sun was setting, I decided it was time to head back down the hill, took the Metro back and did a little strolling in the Marais – would love to have spent more time there. More scheming and plotting – how soon can I get back to Paris?

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

DAY 4: NOTRE DAME TOWERS, Sainte Chapelle, Galleries Lafayette . . . This morning my first destination was Notre Dame with a plan to climb the towers. I’d heard that the best way to avoid lines was to get there early, so hopped on a Velib bike and rode over to Ile de la Cité and got in line, which wasn’t very long. Make sure you’re in good shape for the about-400-winding-stairs to the top – I saw a couple of people drop out. It was a rainy day in Paris. (Did I mention? (no, I didn’t) – I grew up on an acreage in Illinois but for three summers in high school worked in the Loop on Michigan Avenue, across the street from the Art Institute, which was FREE at the time and I spent many lunch hours there. A favorite painting was “Paris Street—Rainy Day” (Caillebotte), so every time it rained while I was in Paris, I thought of that image.) The view from the tower was breathtaking – seeing people walking along under their umbrellas, the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, the Sainte Chapelle . . . and seeing those gargoyles up close, that was something. On to the SAINTE CHAPELLE – I found the line a little slow (30 minutes?—shouldn’t complain!) and encountered line-jumpers again . Once inside, the main feature (for me) is the stunning stained glass windows depicting Biblical scenes. (Unfortunately, the rose window – as well as some others – were undergoing restoration so not all of these were visible.) I’m not a big shopper, but I had the GALLERIES LAFAYETTE on my list because of (1) the architecture and (2) the free rooftop terrace. I found riding the escalators and strolling through each floor to be fun and interesting to see the latest in Paris fashions and watch the shoppers. Views from the rooftop terrace were terrific – a little cloudy/misty – and as I went back down decided that it was time for lunch and explored the restaurant options. I joined what seemed to be the most popular choice – the self-serve area. I had a delicious fresh salad of varietal greens and vegetables, crunchy baguette, and a choice of “fountain” wine. (Yep, we have fountain soft drinks here, I don’t think we’ll be seeing fountain wine anytime soon.) Paris Opera is nearby, and admired the exterior but it was closed on this day, so the interior will have to wait for a future visit. Evening was approaching, and I felt pulled back to the Eiffel Tower – so I grabbed a Velib and headed in that direction. I’m not sure why – it was a nice evening and I wanted to be there. This was one of the nice things about the Velib bikes – I could just head over there, park the bike in a station, walk around, enjoy the view. After a while I picked up another bike and rode southeast along the Seine to Pont de Grenelle and the mini-Statue of Liberty. This was one of those times that a local woman stopped me to ask for directions – I was surprised how often this happened during my 5 days in Paris. Eventually I dropped the bike at the Bir-Hakeim Metro station and headed back to my neighborhood via the Metro. I found a small restaurant in the Latin Quarter – run by Greeks, of course! – and had a very nice, relaxing dinner and good conversation on politics and world views with the owners. It was going on 11pm when I left to walk back to my hotel – and again I would note that I never felt uncomfortable moving about by myself at night.

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

DAY 5: CATACOMBS, Montparnasse Cemetery, Musee d’Orsay, River Cruise, Sainte Sulpice, Concert at Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre: Once I bought the tickets to Paris, I dug through my stack of National Geographics and found the article on the Paris Catacombs – I knew that was a must-see. Catacombs are closed on Monday, so on this Tuesday morning I took the Metro to Denfert-Rochereau to be in line early for the Catacombs. I arrived about 9:15am and there was a short line ahead of me, not too many. By 10am however, the line stretched behind me for at least a block or more and continued to grow. While waiting, I had a great conversation with a young Australian student taking a semester off from school and traveling solo around Europe – so fun to hear her stories and compare notes with her. (BTW, Catacombs is one venue that gives a discount (concession) if you’re 60 or older.) We were in one of the early groups and I found the Catacombs to be fascinating – not just a bunch of bones. How a society treats their dead says something. As I wound through the corridors, I stopped to contemplate the little altars, memorials, Bible verses and poems on the walls and the care with how the remains were arranged. Be prepared for the 130 stairs down, a 2K walk through the corridors, and back up the 83 stairs to emerge in a neighborhood not too far from the entrance. From there, I walked over to the huge Montparnasse Cemetery – I guess it was a morning of the dead. I still have my copy of Les Jeux Sont Fait from college – why wouldn’t I want to see where Jean-Paul Sartre is buried? Next I headed to the Musee d’Orsay, selected because of my fondness for impressionism – as well as my interest in viewing the building design itself. This was one of the times that I ducked into a Monoprix as I needed camera batteries plus I grabbed a sandwich that I could eat on the run. I tended to not stop for long lunches, but I would stop in a café for a late afternoon glass of wine. While I didn’t go in, admired the Legion of Honor Museum across from the d’Orsay. Waited perhaps 20 minutes to get into the d’Orsay and went straight to Level 5 to take in the interior view of this former train station. The impressionist galleries were busy, but I was able to be seated in a couple of favorite galleries and contemplate the pieces. I worked my way down to Level 1, seeking one of my favorite paintings – The Gleaners – and seeing the original of that brought tears to my eyes. Leaving the d’Orsay, I hopped on a Velib bike on rode along Quai de Conti, later parking the bike so that I could walk along the Seine and browse the artists and booksellers, bought one small book to add to a collection we have. I had a pre-printed ticket for a Vedette cruise from Pont Neuf and caught the 5:15 trip. The lighting was great and only about 20 people on the boat so I was able to move about and get some excellent pics on this my last afternoon in Paris. There was one more stop I wanted to make – to Saint-Sulpice, which is very near my hotel, so grabbed a Velib bike near Pont Neuf and rode to Saint-Sulpice. It was late, but I was able to see the impressive interior – unfortunately, there is scaffolding on the exterior – I would return here on another trip. For my final evening in Paris, I attended a Chopin program by Junko Okazaki at the St-Julien-le-Pauvre church. I was very moved by the music and her performance – it just seemed to put a cap on my 5 days in Paris. Afterwards I took one last walk over to the river and looked at Notre Dame. I’ll be back.

Posted by Ruthie
USA Midwest
38 posts

DEPARTURE DAY: Had to leave the hotel at 7am, so bought my RER B ticket the day before – thought it would make my morning go smoother as the stations would be crowded at rush hour. Love that I just have my bookbag and small carry-on, especially as I watch others struggle with big suitcases. At CDG, was a little shocked to be groped and searched and have my baggage gone through like I was trying to smuggle something – I have NO idea why I was pulled out for this, just lucky I guess. The plane was delayed as we left the terminal, then had to return to “reboot” the computer. Plane not very full and I was able to stretch out across a center row of seats and get good sleep. I have about a 4½ hour drive from the airport to home – then back to work the next day.

POST-PARIS DEPRESSION: If you've made it through my trip report . . . . I find myself thinking – what was I doing a week ago today in Paris? Enjoying the memories, but feeling a little blue at times. What’s wrong with me? I guess I’m in love with Paris and I need a support group. I am plotting my return.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5661 posts

What a great trip report! Welcome to the 'Can't Get Enough Of Paris' club! Before I went the first time I never dreamed I would want to go back. Wrong! People ask me why I keep going back to Paris and I just tell them that they wouldn't ask if they had been there themselves. I'm wishing you a speedy return!!

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
777 posts

Great report. I travel solo and wander around Paris, but you are braver then I. I did the bikes once and kept having visions of brain injuries so... LOL!

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3280 posts

Wonderful report! I'm impressed at how much you got in during your five days.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3713 posts

I really enjoyed reading this Ruthie, so well written I felt like I was right there with you. For a first time visitor to Paris you did an outstanding job of researching everything and getting the most out of every minute you were there. So fun to read this and so glad you now love Paris as much as many of us do. As Andrea said so well, I can never get enough of Paris!

Posted by Patty
Steilacoom, WA, USA
577 posts

Oh Ruthie,
Thank you so much for this report. Tour guidebooks are great, but nothing beats the personal reports for helping us relive one the best cities.

Patty

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3254 posts

Ruthie... what a delight to read your trip report. I have also traveled alone numerous times and there are many benefits to this kind of travel. I remember your questions from before the trip... so obviously it was a huge success! I spent my birthday there a few years ago in Dec, and like you, would much rather deal with the cool weather than the crowds. I have been there in the summer and it is beautiful, but can be stressful if you want to visit all the 'tourist sites'... now that you have seen many of them you can wander the gardens, visit the parks and hang out in markets and cafes in the summer... and let all the rest of the tourists wait in line:)

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1740 posts

I both smiled and teared up a bit when you mentioned "Paris Street Rainy Day." Perhaps you'll go in summer as well so you can have a " A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" moment.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4045 posts

Hi,

Great trip report. As one pointed out above, Paris is one city you never tire of. My second trip there in 1977 was also done solo, advantages and disadvantages in both ways of traveling in Paris, flew from SFO to CDG via LAX in August, first time on Air France...just great. The year I turned 60 in 2009 I was again in Paris, solo too and also on 14 July, on which I had never been in Paris.

"Soaking up Paris"....how true... from the time you land at the airport to getting into the city itself.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1740 posts

About the Post Paris Depression-Ruthie, this is your support group. No one will get tired of you talking about Paris, and no one will wonder why you want to go back when you just went. Do you think we're all here just to answer questions about the Metro?

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1169 posts

Karen - Like! I had the same feeling about "Rainy Day Paris". Love Caillebotte.

Ruthie - I'm also a big fan of the Arc du Triomphe du Carrousel and like it much better than the bigger Arc du Triomphe down the street. I'm so glad you had a terrific time in Paris and like how you made the trip your own. You asked for suggestions and you did some first time visitor stuff like Notre Dame and the ET but also did some off the beaten path things, like the agricultural show, the catacombs, and the velib bikes. Here's to many more visits to Paris!

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
1117 posts

Thanks Ruthie for the terrific trip report! Well written, and enjoyed reading it. And Happy Birthday!

Posted by christa
alameda, ca, usa
338 posts

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this report! As a fellow solo traveller I agree that it seems we get to see/do a bit more because we have only ourselves to answer to. I'm also a birthday trip person, spent my 47th in Edinburgh, 48th in Victoria, BC, 49th in Tallinn and this year I'll turn 50 in Vienna. Paris is on my to-do list and I'm keeping a copy of your itinerary for guidance.

Posted by Evelyn
Baton Rouge
71 posts

Loved your report! Very similar to my solo trip to Paris in 2009. Last year went solo to the Luberon and Cotes D'Azur, and this year heading to Dordogne area.

Your details are so helpful to others making plans. Thanks!

Posted by Marilyn
Monterey Bay
15 posts

Thank you for your wonderful report - made me feel as if I was back home

Posted by Wil
IJzendijke, The Netherlands
535 posts

You have the right travel spirit Ruthie, inspiring report!

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1489 posts

Happy Belated Birthday to an obviously Wonderful Woman! I teared up several times reading your report! I took my 11 year old grand daughter last summer for 5 days, and seeing her eyes when the Eiffel Tower lit up was a memory I'll never forget! Love Paris, but I get homesick for Rome!

Posted by Claudette
huntington beach, ca, usa
500 posts

I loved reading your trip report. My girlfriends and I celebrated our 50th birthdays just last year with a trip to London, Paris, and Italy. While it was great to be surrounded by friends, I did enjoy my alone time on the 1 or 2 days I was solo. But a whole trip by myself?! I dont know if i will ever be brave enough to try it. Kudos to you, gutsy lady! And Happy Birthday!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5886 posts

Ruthie, one of the best trip reports I've read. On your next trip be sure to go to Saint-Denis, it was my last place to visit on my first trip to Paris last year. You made me remember everything wonderful about Paris.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1247 posts

Ruthie, what a beautiful and inspiring report of a wonderful trip! I can't believe you biked all over Paris on your arrival day when most people can barely stay awake. Your energy is awesome (as the young'uns say). I could have kept up with you on my first trip to Paris, at age 19, but not now 50 years later. Just don't make my mistake of waiting 40 years to return. Although, the way you travel, you'll have only slowed down a little! Here's to you, and many more adventures through the back door!

Posted by 67camaromcc
2 posts

Ruthie,
Just to add what everyone has already said. Thanks for your most impressive log of your trip. My husband and I leave Dec. 10th for our first trip to Paris. We are also doing a river cruise from Paris to Normandy. The information you provided is so helpful. I was even considering cancelling trip to go to Alaska or Hawaii instead because of not knowing language, pickpockets, and other posts I have read on other sites. Your solo trip testimony has eased my mind a little and with my husbands coaxing, I am going to proceed as planned. We will be in Paris 3 days before cruise starts. I hope we have has much fun as you have described. I especially like the idea of taking the bikes instead of the Metro. Thanks again and enjoy being 60! God bless!

Posted by Jennifer
Montreal
13 posts

Enjoyed this trip report very much- very impressed with your travelling spirit and hope that we can keep up with such a pace (at half the age) when we visit Paris next year!

Posted by J.
Omaha, NE
120 posts

Ruthie - your trip sounds MAGICAL! I'm so excited to be taking my first solo trip this fall (to Vienna), and you have eased some of my nerves. The trip you describe sounds exactly like what I want to do - zip all over the city, and soak up life in a different culture...see many things, but take time to savor the coffee (and pastries)!

Posted by Beth
Boulder, Colorado, USA
168 posts

Thanks for posting this entertaining trip report.
You triggerred great memories of my three trips to Paris :-)
Good luck planning your next trip.

I miss Paris.

Happy Birthday!!