Paris may be the world’s most romantic city, but it’s also my favorite place for a solo trip
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I spent 10 magical days on a solo trip to Paris in September of 2021 and it was one of my favorite vacations – anywhere, ever. As someone so wisely pointed out, you are never really alone in Paris, the city is your companion. If you are considering traveling to Paris alone, this guide will help you plan a solo Parisian adventure so marvelous, you won’t mind not having a companion.
Paris was already one of my favorite cities and I fell in love with it in a whole new way on my solo trip. Being there on my own felt like a secret adventure; I had Paris all to myself. I think it’s because Paris has such a special and unique personality, there’s so much to immerse yourself in: wonderful smells, delicious foods and beauty all around. I was alone in Paris but never felt lonely.
That said, I know it might feel daunting if you’ve never been to Paris. Even though I had visited Paris previously, I was still nervous about going on my own. This guide will help put your mind at ease with tips for planning, Paris safety information and suggestions for things to do in Paris alone.
How to Plan a Solo Trip to Paris
When to Go to Paris
There is never a bad day in Paris, as the saying goes. But Paris is best enjoyed by walking around, so the heat of summer is the least desirable time to go, in my opinion. Spring or fall are ideal and mid September through October is my favourite – October stays quite warm and receives just slightly more rain than September. The first half of September can still bring very hot days. Spring is also lovely; blossom season begins in March so while it may still be winter elsewhere, you can enjoy the early spring in Paris. April and May are lovely and June can be pleasant or very hot.
How Many Days Do you Need in Paris
Paris is best explored at a leisurely pace. In order to savor your time alone in Paris, I would suggest a trip of five days, and seven is even better. Of course, if you only have three, they will be three marvelous days. However long the trip, resist the urge to schedule every minute.
Paris Itinerary - What to Plan Ahead
I found that much of what I wanted to see and do in Paris did not require advance planning. So you can either plan every detail ahead, or show up with only your hotel booked, and still have a marvelous time. The exception to this would be reservations at very popular restaurants which you should book ahead. (Most French restaurants are not on OpenTable but some are on an app called The Fork). Some museums don’t require reservations and some do. The Louvre has just announced it will be limiting capacity to a third of its current number, so that’s one you will want to book ahead. Popular tours also book up, especially at busier times of year.
Bonjour Paris - When You Don't Speak French
Paris receives millions of foreign visitors every year and English is widely spoken by many people in the tourism industry. Of course it’s helpful and fun to learn a few French phrases. One of my favorite things about my Paris solo trip was having the chance to practice my French. I found French people very patient asking whether I would prefer to converse in French or English. And for those times when you can’t get your point across, Google translate will do the job.
Where to Stay on a Solo Trip to Paris -
On my solo trip to Paris, I spent the first 5 days in an apartment and another five days in a hotel. I rented an apartment in the 6th arrondissement through Paris Perfect rentals and loved the experience. It’s apartments are on the pricier said (I was able to take advantage of a discount) but there are many other rental options which I outline in this post: Find & Book a Holiday Apartment in Paris.
Having an apartment allowed me to live like a Parisian: I visited the farmers’ market, shopped at local fromageries (cheese shops), and bought crusty baguettes on my way home. Not having to dine out three meals a day saved me money and created a more relaxed pace. And it gave me a little taste (pun intended) of life as a local. Someone asked me if I felt like Emily in Paris, in reference to the popular Netflix show. I said: “No, but I did feel like Susan in Paris.” It allowed me to imagine living there – a dream of mine.
Recommended Paris Hotels for Solo Travel
If it’s your first trip to Paris I think a hotel offers an extra feeling of security, and help with practical things like calling a taxi or making a dining reservation.
As for where in Paris to stay, the most central arrondissements (neighbourhoods), which are numbered 1 through 8, will allow you to walk most everywhere you want to go. If your budget is tight and you are comfortable taking the Paris Metro, you can get more for your money further out. The 9th is also a great area to stay in; I spent time there on my trip with friends in October of 2022.
Paris hotels are rated on a star system, with a maximum of 5 stars for luxury properties. You will see the stars on a hotel website and on the exterior of the hotel. Beginning with a budget-friendly pick, I recently stayed at the Hotel Muguet, a 3-star hotel in the 7th arrondissement, which is near the Eiffel Tower. Hotel Muguet has air conditioning, which I appreciated in September, but not all less expensive hotels do, so double check that if you are traveling in warmer months. I thought Hotel Muguet was good quality for the price and very comfortable. They offer some rooms with Eiffel Tower views, at higher rates. Another popular hotel for a mid-price budget is the Hotel Adele & Jules. I haven’t stayed there but it gets great reviews and I like the location in the 9th arrondissements, within a walk of the Palais Garnier and French department stores such as Le Printemps Haussmann and Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. The latter has a fantastic gourmet food hall where you can get dinner to go: ideal when you are too tired after a day of Paris fun, to go out to dinner.
I also adore the Saint Germaine area and on with a larger budget I would choose the Relais Christine (5*), on my bucket list for a future trip. I’ve also heard great things about Hotel Therese, a 4* hotel on the right bank in the 1st arrondissement. The location is ideal within a short walk of Paris’s most popular museums.
You can sometimes get more for your money staying a little further out. I’ve also stayed at Le Dokhan’s a wonderful Belle Epoque property in the 16th, you aren’t quite as central, but it is a wonderful neighbourhood, residential and a little less touristy. Le Dokhan’s is a (4*) pricier hotel, with a charming Louis Vuitton elevator, gorgeous rooms and a cute breakfast room/champagne bar. For a more affordable option in the 16th, Hôtel Palais de Chaillot (3*) gets great reviews.
Be sure to check the “Special Offers” section of all of these hotel websites – they often have promotional rates there that aren’t on the main booking page. I will be adding more Paris hotel listings here as I try out new hotels. And if you have a favorite, please share it in the comments at the end of this story.
Preparing for your Solo Trip to Paris
France has an excellent socialized healthcare system, and while it is free to citizens and residents, as a visitor you will have to pay the bill if you get sick while visiting. If you buy a travel insurance policy to cover possible cancellation, be clear whether it includes health coverage. Some do and some don’t. I’ve written a detailed guide to buying health coverage for international travel: Guide to Buying Travel Medical Insurance.
Be sure and print off your policy info and carry it on a small card in your wallet. Most accidents happen when we are out and about, rather than at the hotel.
It’s also always a good idea to register your travel plans with the appropriate authorities in your home country. In the U.S. that is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. And of course share your detailed itinerary with someone at home who you can check in with.
What to Pack for Paris
I won’t go into a lot of specific recommendations on packing for Paris, because it will depend on the season in which you visit. But here are a few things to keep in mind: Parisians love neutrals; you won’t see them wearing a lot of bold patterns or bright colors. That is great news because you can easily make a wardrobe work around black, white, navy, beige etc. which allows you to mix and max your pieces and pack lighter. (A post on what to pack for Paris coming soon).
The most important thing to pack for Paris is comfy shoes. Parisian women are very stylish but you won’t see them walking around in heels, which don’t get on well with cobblestones. Parisians wear practical shoes and still look chic, so can you. Loafers, flat boots or booties, cute sneakers – these are all great choices for Paris.
I do make an effort to dress up a little more in Paris. A trench coat is a classic piece, or a neutral wool coat in colder weather. And blazers are always great for layering and elevate basic things like jeans.
Remember to leave room to buy something on your trip, because shopping in Paris cane be great fun and doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re interested in budget-friendly Paris shopping, you might like: Affordable French Clothing Brands – yes, they do exist.
Beyond clothes: I like to bring two adapters; between all the things that need to charge in the evening – phone, laptop, portable charger – one never seems to be enough. I also travel with a portable charger which I used daily on my recent Paris trip. The battery of my iPhone doesn’t last all day when I am using it for maps, photos, audio guides, translation, and so on. If you are flying within Europe, I also advise bringing a small luggage scale. I flew Air France and they weighed both my checked luggage and my carry-on before my flight from Paris to Madrid. If your bags are overweight, they will charge you. I was surprised by this as my carry-on is never weighed in the U.S.
I also always travel with a reusable water bottle. Paris means a lot of walking and I like to have water with me; I don’t have to buy plastic water bottles and am well hydrated when it’s time for an apéritif. And Paris has gorgeous fountains with drinking water, located all over the city. Check out this map with all of the fountains marked: Google Map, Paris Drinking Water.
What’s also chic in Paris, staying dry. Pack a small, light umbrella that you won’t mind carrying with you. A beret is also fun in photos and will help keep your head warm and dry in cooler temps – if you don’t have one they are available to buy all over Paris.
Luggage for Your Solo Paris Trip
On my solo trip to Paris I traveled with two small roller bags rather than one large suitcase. One roller was my checked bag and I carried the other on the plane. I found it easier to manage two smaller bags than one large one. Smaller bags are helpful if you will be traveling by train while in France. It’s much harder to find a storage spot for bigger bags, and they are heavy to lift. Also, if you are staying in an apartment many buildings don’t have elevators (something you should check when you are looking at apartments to book). If you need new luggage, my absolute favorite brand is Monos. I’ve reviewed it in this post: Monos Luggage Review.
Arriving Solo in Paris
How to Get from the Paris Airport to the City
If you are nervous about arriving on your own in Paris, you can arrange a car service to pick you up at the airport; most hotels or apartment rental agencies will do this for you if you ask. The cost seems to run around 75 euros. If it gives you peace-of-mind to know someone will be waiting in arrivals with your name on a sign, then it’s money well spent.
I decided to forgo a booking, and simply got a taxi at the Paris airport, which was very straightforward. I found the Charles de Gaulle airport well organized with clear signs in English, so it was quite easy to follow the signs to the taxi area once I had my bags.
The taxi area can be busy so if you don’t want to have to wait, you should book a car ahead. Only registered taxis are allowed here, they all have a light on their roof and they charge a flat rate to the city: 53 euros to the Right Bank and 58 euros to any address in the Left Bank. It’s handy to have the hotel name and address written on a paper to hand to the driver. I also had a screenshot of a map showing the location of my apartment. I am told that some Paris taxi drivers still don’t accept credit cards so ask before you get in or have cash ready. Tips aren’t necessary in Paris but a few extra euros is a nice gesture. Remember to say “Merci Beaucoup!”
It is also possible to take a train from Paris to the city center and I have done this on a previous trip. Adult fare is around 10 euros one-way and you can access three different train stations in Paris and then transfer to the Metro (subway). (More on using the Paris Metro below). Obviously this is more complex than taking a taxi. While I have done it when traveling with my husband, I think taking a taxi is a worthwhile splurge when you arrive jetlagged from a long flight, especially if on your own and managing luggage. When I departed Paris, I used an Uber to get to the CDG airport which was about 10 euros cheaper than a taxi.
Arrival Day in Paris - The Fun Begins
I arrived in Paris on a warm day in early September, resisted the desire to have a nap and set out for a walk through the 6th arrondissement. I used Google maps to navigate and it worked well. Although you may get turned as you wander Paris, since the streets are not organized in a grid in Paris. That said, the River Seine is a great landmark. Use it to get your bearings. I always like to keep a paper map with me as well. If you can stay awake on the day you arrive, you should be tired enough to sleep for a long stretch on your first night and be well on your way to adjusting to Paris time.
I strolled along Boulevard Saint Germain where people filled the café terraces, and through the windy streets of the Latin Quarter. When I reached the Seine I stopped on the Pont Neuf bridge to admire the gorgeous architecture of the Ile de la Cité, the oldest part of Paris, and the river which sparkled in the afternoon sun. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of “pinch me, I’m in Paris.” Be prepared that jet lag might make you feel a little emotional about being alone in Paris. I did have moments that first day where I wished someone were with me, and wondered if 10 days solo in Paris was a good idea. I felt better the next day. And spoiler, 10 days alone in Paris was a fantastic idea!
I stopped for an afternoon répas and then returned to my apartment to get to bed early. Wandering without an agenda was the perfect first day alone. I would not go to a museum or plan a special activity on your arrival day, unless your visit is extremely short. I suggest saving special dinners for when you feel rested. People watching while sitting in a beautiful garden such as the Tuileries, or at café, is perfect for your first day.
Paris Safety for Solo Female Travelers
I felt very safe during my time in Paris alone. I was completely comfortable walking around central Paris on my own during the day. In the evening I felt comfortable as well and took the following precautions: I stuck to well lit and crowded areas. If I found myself out later and there were less people around, I knew I could call an Uber. That said, as with being solo in any city, you should take precautions. The most likely problem you’ll run into in Paris is pick pockets. The places known for pick pockets are the major tourist sites such as the are near the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadero, and the Champs-Elysées as well as the Metro (subway). Carry your purse or bag in front rather than on your back and only carry what you need, in terms of cash and ID. Keep everything else in the hotel safe. Steer clear of anyone with a clipboard asking you to sign something or wanting directions: pick pockets often work in groups with one person distracting you. Be aware they are sometimes adolescents, both girls or boys. Don’t flash expensive things, including phones around in the Metro.
Here is a link to the French Embassy for other Paris safety tips and contact info in case you have a problem: French Embassy. Take precautions and then try not to worry. More than likely you will have no problems.
If you are nervous about being out on your own in the evening, you could join an organized tour or go to a show and take an Uber back to the hotel after. More on things to do alone in Paris, below.
Getting Around Paris
Paris is best explored on foot, that’s why you brought cute, comfy walking shoes. I used the map on my iPhone (you can use Google maps offline) and usually had a paper map in my bag as well. Besides, there’s no better place to take a wrong turn. That’s often how the best discoveries are made.
Riding the Paris Metro Alone
I love walking in Paris so only used the Metro (subway) a few times. There are Metro stops every few blocks – look for the M. Paris is phasing out paper tickets so you will need to buy a Navigo card for the Metro. You can buy as many trips as you like and it can be re-loaded. Go to the booth isnide the station and an attendant will help you purchase a card. Note that most Paris Metro stations have a lot of stairs. Trains can get crowded at certain times and you should be aware of pick pockets. Some of the Metro stations are quite beautiful inside, as are the iconic signs outside the stations.
Uber in Paris as a Solo Traveler
I used Uber several times during my stay and had no problems. I would recommend it as one app you should have on your phone and ready to go. It’s wonderful to not have to worry about having cash and there may be times on your Paris solo trip, later in the evening for example, when you are more comfortable taking an Uber than walking.
Safety: As always when using Uber, check the license plate that you are given by the app when it confirms your ride, to be sure it matched the one on the car when it pulls up.
Things to do in Paris Alone
Paris has marvelous museums – you will be so enthralled with all you are seeing, you won’t miss a companion – and they are the ideal rainy day activity. While many people might immediately think of the Louvre, Paris has a huge array of museums with something for every interest. And many are in stunning historic buildings so you will enjoy incredible architecture as well as the art.
You can just pay as you go, or purchase a Paris Museum pass for 2, 4 or 6 days – I purchased the 6-day pass and saw 7 museums and Versailles, which is included in the pass. You are well served to reserve a time for the most popular museums, with or without the pass. There were long lines for the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, for people who didn’t have a time entry reserved.
I love the Musee d’Orsay, I think equally for the incredible art and the amazing space of this former railway station that was built in 1900 to bring people to the World Fair in Paris. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist artwork in the world. If you are short on time, go straight to the fifth floor to see the Impressionist masterpieces. The l’Orangerie, which houses Monet’s water lilies, is also special and can be enjoyed on a fairly quick visit. I also really enjoyed the Picasso museum which is in the gorgeous Hotel Salé. It is considered one of the finest historic houses in the Marais district; it dates to 1659. Also in Le Marais I recommend the Musee Carnavalet, the history of Paris museum, which is free. It has a lovely courtyard where you can sit and have a drink.
And my new favorite is the Rodin Museum which I visited on my most recent trip. Rodin’s famous sculptures are placed around the beautiful garden. It is the perfect place to wander on a lovely day. The museum building is also known as the Hôtel Biron, a gorgeous rococo mansion built in 1732. Rodin began renting four ground-floor rooms here in 1908 before taking over the whole building in 1911. It became the Musée Rodin in 1919.
And of course the Louvre. You must now booked a timed entry ahead; the Louvre is reducing daily capacity starting in 2023. This is the largest museum in the world and can be overwhelming. You simply can’t see it all in a day. If it’s your first visit, I recommend you reserve for an early entry time and start by following a guided tour you can download on your phone. I did the Rick Steves audio tour of the Louvre, which focused on seeing the Denon Wing (the Louvre is divided into three wings). I thought it was wonderful and listened to several of his interviews while walking around Paris. The audio tours also come with maps you can download. More info here: Rick Steves Audio Tour app. Alternatively this tour is supposed to be excellent: The Louvre at its Most Peaceful.
The Denon Wing is also the area of the Louvre that gets the most crowded. If it becomes uncomfortably busy, I suggest you go to the Richelieu Wing and see the stunning Napoleon III apartments. The Louvre was a palace before it was a museum, and these opulent rooms have survived almost entirely intact so you’ll be transported back to 1860, the time of France’s “second empire”.
The Grand Gardens of Paris
Paris has magnificent gardens. Between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde is the Tuileries (twee-le-rees), Paris’s grand park, once the Royal Gardens of the Louvre Palace. You’ll find pretty gardens with gorgeous sculptures and lots of shady places to sit and admire it all. Besides the gorgeous Tuileries, the Luxembourg Gardens is my favourite. It has the historic Luxembourg Palace (built 1615-1645) which is used today by the French Senate. The park has sprawling lawns, tree-lined promenades, and a pond where children sail little boats. Don’t miss the stunning Medici Fountain, built in 1620 and recently restored.
I haven’t been to the Parc Monceau but I hear it’s gorgeous, so it’s on my list for next time.
I never tire of admiring the Eiffel Tower. If you are a morning person head to the Champ de Mars park (where the tower is located) with a coffee or tea and croissant, and enjoy the early light. While it is beautiful during the day, the real magic is at night, when it comes to life with a golden glow and a special show of twinkling lights for five minutes every hour (on the hour, from dusk to 1 am). For more on all the best places to see Paris’s most famous monument you might like: Where to Get the Best View of the Eiffel Tower.
I’ve actually never gone up the Eiffel Tower, I prefer admiring it from the outside and not having to deal with the crowds inside the tower. If you would like to visit the tower and ride to the top to admire the view, reserve that well ahead: Eiffel Tower visit reservations.
Paris Walking Tours
I love walking tours. Even when you think you know a city there’s something new and interesting to learn. I’ve had great experience with informative and entertaining guides. It’s also a nice way to meet some new people, and ideal as an evening activity when you might be more comfortable exploring with a group. I like picking one arrondissement to get to know better – Montmartre or the Marais are popular spots for tours as there are lots of secret courtyards and gems you’d probably not discover on your own. If you are like me, and love French food and wine, I’ve got these noted for my next visit: Marais Walking Food Tour or the Marais Pastry & Chocolate Tour.
If you like to take a tour to orient yourself the city’s most popular sites, this free 3-hour walking tour of Paris through allows you to pay what you like: The Original Free Tour of Paris.
Note: All of these tours are booked through Get Your Guide which I used several times in Europe and always had a good experience. I suggest downloading the app ahead of your trip to make for easy booking.
Shopping in Paris
I didn’t spend a lot of time shopping on my solo trip. But if you like to shop, Paris will delight you. The Paris department stores, BHV, Le Bon Marché, and the recently reopened La Samaritaine are all a fun experience. La Samaritaine’s Art Nouveau murals, grand staircase and glass-topped atrium have been restored to their former glory and are worth a visit, even if you don’t plan to shop. It’s on the pricey end. The previously mentioned Galeries Lafayette Haussman is the flagship of this French brand – a gorgeous department store in the 9th arrondissement with something for every budget. In addition to shopping, you can take a Macaron Baking Class here. And the rooftop offers great views of the city.
Beyond department stores there are several famed shopping streets in Paris. The Champs Elysees is actually very touristy so I don’t think it’s worth much time. Near the Louvre is the Rue Saint-Honoré where you’ll find the most iconic French fashion brands. For a broader slice of Parisian style, the Rue de Rivoli in Le Marais has a little bit of everything. And I particularly love strolling and shopping in Saint Germain (the name of the neighbourhood as well as its main shopping street.)
Evenings in Paris on a Solo Trip
Seine Dinner Cruise
A Seine dinner cruise was a splurge on my solo trip and I loved it. I dressed up, took myself out and had a marvelous time. I chose the Bateaux Parisiens Dinner Cruise which was three hours and a delicious four-course meal and included a Kir Royale, a classic French cocktail and wine. I chose the least expensive ticket category which meant I was not right next to a window, and it was raining when I went. Still, Paris at night was magical and the cruise finished appropriately with the boat gliding past the Eiffel Tower which came to life on cue with twinkling lights. There are several companies that offer dinner cruises including the Bateaux Mouches, which is supposed to be excellent as well.
If you don’t want to do a dinner cruise, you could also do a champagne cruise or a sightseeing cruise, day or night. For more ideas on how to spend your evenings in Paris, I’ve written: Things to do in Paris at Night.
Attend a Performance at the Palais Garnier
The stunning Palais Garnier Opera House offers concerts, operas, ballets and more. An evening out at this gorgeous historic gem will certainly be a special memory of a trip. I toured the Palais Garnier on my last visit to Paris and it is truly stunning. Note that some performances are held at the modern Bastille Opera building so be sure which you are booking. You can also go on a guided or self-guided tour of the Opera House which I recommend.
Day Trip from Paris
Several delightful day trips are within a short train ride of Paris including Giverny, Chantilly and Versailles. I did a solo day trip to Versailles from Paris and had a marvelous time. (Story and guide coming soon.) I made my own way to Versailles by train, and explored on my own, but you can also join a tour. A close friend of mine has done the Versailles Palace & Cycling day trip and highly recommends it. Being on a bike for part of the tour allows you to see more of the gorgeous Versailles gardens and grounds. Find out more here: Versailles Guided Bike & Palace Tour.
Dining Solo in Paris
Party of 1, Madame? The waiters will usually be more than happy to seat you when you are dining alone. Paris restaurants pack people in like nowhere I’ve seen. And there’s always a table that’s a tight fit for two but perfect for one. Besides, French people often dine alone, much more so than in North America. You will see them reading a book, or sipping a glass of wine, looking perfectly content. So you won’t feel at all out of place and will have the chance to observe everything that is going on around you. I love to read but rarely brought a book along as watching Parisian life is fascinating. Even better, you can usually linger over your meal. They won’t bring the bill until you ask for it and when you do ask, they might look surprised that you want to leave. Parisians linger – stay as long as you like.
And being solo can work to your advantage when trying to get in to a popular restaurant at the last minute. That said, if food is a part of Paris you are most looking forward to I suggest you reserve ahead. Many restaurants have reservation booking on their website. If not you can email them or try booking on an app like The Fork, widely used in Europe. I am working on a Paris dining guide. Until then, a few I like are: La Fontaine de Mars, Le Bistro Paul Bert, Le Bon Georges, Chez Janou and Brasserie Lipp.
Final thoughts on My Solo Trip to Paris
This solo trip reminded me that Paris is the most fun when you aren’t rushing around from place to place. It’s a city for wandering, for discovering a charming square, or a little park with a pretty view (I loved one near the Sorbonne I had never seen before.) On my own, I noticed everything, and it seemed like there was a surprise around every corner.
Did I have moments of wishing my husband were with me? Of course. On a previous trip to Paris two years earlier we had celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and I thought often of things he loved, or how much he would enjoy tasting something especially delicious.
But being on my own was special. It gave me time and space to immerse myself in Paris. And it reminded me how much fun I can have, all on my own. I also find that solo travel pushes me a little out of my comfort zone; it builds my confidence and that’s something I return home with.
On my final night in Paris, I put on my beret, and enjoyed a Kir Royale on a terrace with a view of the Eiffel Tower. I had a lovely chat with the bartender, and there were other tourists around who said hello. I probably could have spent the evening with them – but I really didn’t want to. I took myself out to dinner, so I could savor those final hours – just me and Paris.
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