This guest post on solo travel in Paris is by Catherine Ryan Gregory
The City of Light is supposedly the most romantic place on earth — but what if you’re enjoying some solo travel in Paris?
Traveling by yourself in this gorgeous city actually provides the perfect opportunity to see the sights on your own schedule, skip the supposedly must-do activities you don’t care about, and eat as much pain au chocolat as you can stomach — without any side-eye.
Not long ago, I went traveling solo in Paris.
Yes, there were times I wished my husband and kids were with me; but overall, I adored my solo trip to Paris. And you can, too.
Here, I’ll walk you through the mindset shift you need to take the lonely out of alone in Paris.
Then I’ll share the best things to do on your own in the City of Lights in France.
Traveling Solo In Paris? Date Yourself!
First of all, check your impression that Paris is just for couples. To start, think of where you live. Is the general stereotype about your hometown accurate?
Is New York a city of angry jerks?
Is all of Singapore like Crazy Rich Asians?
Portland, Oregon—where I live—isn’t filled only with hipsters sipping pour-overs and naked hippies riding bikes.
If you’re still head over heels with the idea of Paris’s romantic identity, by all means, carry on — but with a twist. Since you’re going to solo travel in Paris, date yourself.
Woo that phenomenal human you are. Take her out. Show her you appreciate her.
Parisians are actually experts at being by themselves. Just look around and you’ll see people lounging in the park, drinking a glass of wine at the café, and cycling down cobblestone streets — by themselves.
Take a page from their book and embrace exploring Paris alone as a female.
Want some inspiration for what to do?
Here are my favorite things to do solo in Paris.
One of the biggest benefits of traveling solo is having ultimate freedom over your itinerary, so schedule in the recommendations that resonate most with you.Visiting #Paris solo? Here is how to date yourself on a #SoloTravel trip to the City of Light!
When you’re done reading, you’ll also want to know what not to do. Read my post on five ways to ruin your trip to Paris so you can avoid those common mistakes.
It’s also important to understand French culture before visiting for a smooth trip.
1. Solo Travel In Paris Must-Do: People Watch At The Eiffel Tower
But, here’s the thing:
A lot of travelers turn up their noses at the Eiffel Tower. It’s “such a tourist trap,” they often say — but not me. I love this iconic Paris landmark but not for the reasons you might think.
The tower itself is fine. Yes, it’s one of the most recognizable pieces of architecture on the planet, but there’s something even better in the parks around la tour:
Because just about everyone who visits Paris goes to the Eiffel Tower, it’s the spot to observe the beautiful diversity of humans.
Keep this advice in mind:
“A Parisienne always has a good reason to be sitting on a bench.” – How To Be Parisian
To make the most of your people-watching, I recommend picking a spot, getting still, and observing.
When you’re not distracted by your phone or your plans to get to the next destination, you’ll see so much more. A teenage couple falling over when they try to take a selfie. Crowds of schoolkids paying equal attention to the tower and the park’s resident pigeons.
You might even witness someone opening up a secret compartment in a street lamp and stashing a bottle of Champagne, like I did. Seriously!
My point is, don’t miss this rare opportunity to stay as long as you want in a place many travelers consider to be overrated.
As a solo traveler, you get to decide how fast — or slow — you see the city.
2. Visit The Best Place To Watch The Sunset In Paris
Candlelit dinner, wine, and a sunset—this is A+ romance material. That means it’s perfect for you as a solo traveler in Paris.
The best place to watch the sunset over the Paris skyline:
Brasserie Georges, the rooftop restaurant atop the Centre Pompidou.
Arrive 30-45 minutes before sunset so you can enjoy the changing colors as well as the twinkling nighttime vista.
The brasserie generally requires reservations, but a one-top is easy to squeeze in. Hey, it’s yet another benefit of doing solo travel in Paris!
Order an appetizer and a half-bottle of wine from their excellent menu. If you’re not sure what to order, servers here are super-helpful and speak great English.
When I went, I nearly cried — not because I was lonely, but because I couldn’t believe my luck. I was traveling Paris on my own terms, watching the sky turn sherbet-pink behind the Eiffel Tower, sipping a Bordeaux.
The moment was perfect, and I’ll never forget it.Here is where to see the best #sunset in #Paris -- plus other incredible things to do when #TravelingSolo to the City of Light!
By the way:
You don’t have to buy admission to the Pompidou, which houses one of Europe’s largest collections of modern art. An elevator will take you straight to the top floor to get to Brasserie Georges.
If you have extra time, though, make a point of seeing the museum’s famous works by Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock.
3. Test Your Mettle At The Catacombs
Traveling to Paris alone as a female gives you countless ways to improve your mindset and bust through limiting beliefs. Why not use your solo trip to prove to yourself just how brave you are?
The Catacombs are undoubtedly creepy — and totally fascinating.
The Catacombs are an ossuary — as in, a place to arrange and bury bones — under the streets of Paris. Here, the remains of six million people are held in the tunnels, which were originally dug as limestone quarries.
Part of these ossuaries are open to the public. In fact, about 300,000 people visit this historic site each year — which means you should buy tickets in advance or risk waiting up to several hours in line.
The mile-long underground tour leads past bones and skulls stacked in intricate formations.
You can click here to snag special access tickets to this Paris attraction.
4. Scooter Around Paris
You can barely go a block without coming across one of the roughly 10 brands of electronic public scooters in Paris.
It’s easy to roll your eyes at them — and the irresponsible people who almost knock over pedestrians — but they’re really fun.
So brush up on the rules around electronic scooters, follow proper etiquette, and take one for a spin! I can tell you from firsthand experience that riding one over the cobblestone streets of Paris is absolutely hilarious.FUN: Here is why you need to explore #Paris by scooter -- plus 10 other must-have experiences when enjoying #SoloTravel in the city!
Download one (or more) of the scooter apps before leaving your lodging so you can use WiFi instead of data when you’re out and about.
Additionally, you can opt for a treasure hunt along the Seine by scooter — definitely a unique Paris sightseeing opportunity!
5. Picnic At Luxembourg Gardens
Unless the weather is absolute garbage, you can pretty much always find people lounging outside in the Luxembourg Gardens, and it should definitely on your itinerary when enjoying solo female travel in Paris.
This beautiful, manicured park is popular with both Parisians and visitors — and for good reason. Its wide-open lawns simply beg to be lounged on.
If sitting on the ground isn’t your thing, little tables and chairs dot the park.
Buy a baguette and cheese or a ready-made meal from one of the city’s upscale grocery stores, or simply bring a bag full of pastries.
Then spread out and enjoy a solo picnic in one of Paris’s most picturesque spots.
Visiting Paris in winter?
You can get your nature fix and keep warm in the Jardin des Plantes greenhouse!
6. Admire Stained Glass At Sainte Chapelle
I, like the rest of the traveling community, was heartbroken when I heard of the fire that damaged the Notre Dame Cathedral. It had been one of my favorite places when I traveled solo in Paris.
Although you can’t go in now — the restoration effort is massive, and it won’t reopen until 2024 at the earliest — you can visit another example of stunning architecture and beautiful stained glass just a few blocks away.
Sainte Chapelle is lesser-known than Notre Dame and attracts fewer visitors by far. But its dramatic stained glass will take your breath away.
I spent part of my final day in Paris sitting and staring, speechless, at the 15-meter-high windows.
The crick in your neck you might get from looking up at these masterpieces won’t last long, but you’ll never forget their beauty.Have you ever visited the stunning Sainte-Chapelle in #Paris? It's one of 11 must-have experiences featured in this guide to #TravelingSolo in the City of Light!
7. Enjoy Art In Paris—At Your Pace
Paris is simply full of world-class museums.
The Louvre alone welcomes nearly 10 million visitors each year. But with all those masterpieces in one city, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
The good news:
As a solo traveler in Paris, you don’t feel any pressure to check all these museums off someone else’s bucket list. Instead, pick one museum and wander it slowly.
Rather than locating the “must-see” works of art on the museum map and making a bee-line between them, explore without an itinerary.
Enjoying art at a leisurely pace lets you appreciate the pieces on the wall as well as all the visitors there. When you don’t have an agenda, you won’t be stressed about the crowds around the Mona Lisa or Van Gough’s self-portraits.
When it comes to seeing art in Paris, quality of time definitely trumps quantity of museums visited.
8. Dine Solo In Paris
One of the benefits of eating out on your own:
Parisians are used to solo diners so would never look twice at you enjoying your meal and a glass of wine.
Plus, Paris has some of the most delicious food in the world. Tasting your way through the city by yourself means you don’t have to compromise with anyone else when deciding where to go — because it’s never easy to narrow down where to eat.
On the other side of the coin, you’re free to eat at the same brasserie three nights in a row or indulge in a few French croissants if that’s what makes you happy.
Either way, do as the French do and thoroughly enjoy every single bite.Dining out as a #SoloTraveler is a must-have experience in #Paris. Here's why -- plus 10 other fun solo experience suggestions!
9. When Looking For Fun Things To Do In Paris At Night Alone, Cruise The Seine
I’ve already made my feelings about the Eiffel Tower clear — love it. But there’s a way to make a good thing even better:
Seeing the tower’s light show from the River Seine.
Many companies run nighttime tours on the Seine, and you can find people handing out coupons to them around tourist destinations. Additionally, you can click here to purchase a ticket in advance.
No matter which company you choose, this is one tourist activity you don’t want to miss, as it’s the perfect option when looking for memorable things to do in Paris solo at night. Though, remember that you’re not really alone, as there are other cruise-goers to mingle with if you so please.
You’ll cruise under the iconic bridges over the river, learn about the city’s history and architecture, then arrive alongside the Eiffel Tower just as it bursts into light.
The sight of the sparkling tower is absolutely magical.
If you do just one stereotypical tourist thing, make it a nighttime cruise on the Seine.
10. Leave Your Mark With Graffiti
If you’re like me, you check out the street art scene in every city you visit.
And even if much of Paris is filled with centuries-old architecture — definitely not a wall I’d want to be turned into a mural — the city does have some noteworthy street art. In fact, you can even book a street tour!
That being said, in Paris, I did something I’ve never done anywhere else:
I created graffiti on my own.
Whether you go rogue and do it yourself, or join one of a few entrepreneurial artists who will help you wield a can of spray paint through a local graffiti workshop, painting graffiti is a one-of-a-kind experience.
The wall where I painted is considered fair game for any would-be street artist.
And if it turns out to be a spray paint-y mess, your painting is far from permanent. The open-air gallery is constantly changing as other people paint over previous murals.
By the way, if you want to know all the details I wrote about how to paint your own graffiti in Paris over on my site, including a map pinpointing a public graffiti wall.Be a street artist for the day in #Paris. Here's how. It's one of 11 incredible #SoloTravel experiences featured in this guide!
11. Wander & Get Lost On Your Solo Trip To Paris
Your Paris Pinterest board is probably packed with things to do, places to eat, and landmarks to visit.
But one of the best, most memorable things to do in Paris alone or with a travel companion is to wander aimlessly. You never know what you’ll come across.
You might stumble across the perfect boulangerie, a glass-topped covered walkway, two grandpas playing chess or, as I did, a quaint antique store selling the most adorable dainty teacups.
Yes, you might have researched each of these spots and followed an efficient path from A to B, ticking off each one. But nothing compares to the delight of discovering something wonderful all on your own.
How To Explore When Visiting Paris Alone
If you had any doubts about visiting Paris as a solo traveler, I’m pretty sure you’re now sold.
You now know that visiting one of the world’s most romantic cities by yourself is actually an excellent way to go. When you travel solo, you see a place on your own terms:
You get to spend hours in the same place or skip supposedly must-see attractions that just don’t spark your interest.
For those of you who love a good list of things to do in Paris, I hope you have a few more items to add. After all, I loved each of these recommendations as a solo traveler. I’m pretty sure you will, too.
So when you head to Paris, do me a favor:
Blow it a bisou and say bonjour to one of my favorite cities!
Where To Stay In Paris
To help make choosing a place to stay on your solo trip to Paris easier, here is a widget from Expedia that allows you to do research without leaving this post:
A few popular neighborhoods to stay in Paris include Marais — which is very trendy; the 1st Arrondisement — which is excellent if you’re doing a lot of sightseeing; and the 11th Arrondisement — which is a foodie paradise.
That being said, this neighborhood list is by no means exhaustive, as there are many excellent areas to stay in Paris.
Fais bon voyage! (Have a great trip!)
Solo Travel Tips [Video]
I made so many mistakes when planning my first trip solo — like booking out every second of my itinerary so that I had no room for adventure.
That’s not what I want for you.
To help you plan a meaningful and memorable trip, I’m sharing my top tips for planning the perfect solo trip — with confidence!
About The Author
Catherine Ryan Gregory helps time-strapped parents plan family vacations that are fun for everyone. She shares family travel hacks and kid-friendly destination recommendations at ToAndFroFam.com. When she’s not exploring the globe, she lives with her husband, two kids, and a dog outside Portland, Oregon.
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