Paris may be the world’s most romantic city, but it’s also my favourite place for a solo trip
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spent 10 magical days on a solo trip to Paris in September of 2021 and it was one of my favourite 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 solo, this guide is designed to help you plan a Parisian adventure so marvelous, you won’t miss not having a companion.
Paris was already one of my favourite 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 and didn’t want to share it. 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 in the planning stage. Even though I had been to Paris previously, I was a little nervous about going on my own. This guide is meant to put your mind at ease with tips for planning, safety information and suggestions for what to see and do in Paris on your own.
Planning Your 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.
Bonjour Paris - Navigating a French-speaking country
Paris receives millions of foreign visitors every year, so signage at the airport is in English as well as French, and English is widely spoken by people in the tourism industry. Of course it’s helpful and fun to learn a few French phrases. One of my favourite things about my Paris solo trip was having the chance to practice my (very basic) 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.
I also found that much of what I wanted to see and do in Paris did not require advance planning. So you can plan every detail or show up with only your hotel booked, and still have a marvelous time. The exception to this might be reservations at very popular restaurants. And while museums do recommend advance reservations, I did this once I was in Paris. If you trip os short or over at a busy time, you may want to reserve ahead.
Where to Stay on a Solo Trip to Paris -
On my most recent trip I rented an apartment in the 6th arrondissement through Paris Perfect rentals and loved the experience. 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 living like a Parisian. 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. If you are interested in an apartment you will find more information in this post: Find & Book a Holiday Apartment in Paris.
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. (Most French restaurants are not on OpenTable).
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.
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. 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. Hotel Muguet had 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 have rooms with Eiffel Tower views at higher rates.
With a larger budget, I adore the Saint Germaine area and on my bucket list for a future trip is the Relais Christine (5*). 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. 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 favourite, please share it in the comments at the end of this story.
Preparing for your Paris Vacation
We are still in the midst of the pandemic as I write this, so comprehensive insurance coverage is crucial. I am vaccinated but was still nervous about possibly testing positive for Covid during my Paris solo trip. I made sure I had insurance that would cover the cost if I had to quarantine while in Europe.
Before I left, I sent a copy of my policy to a family member and always carried a copy of my policy card (printed on a piece of paper) with me in my small travel wallet. I’ve written this detailed guide for international travel: Guide to Buying Travel Medical Insurance.
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.
Paris Travel & Covid-19
Restrictions and rules for entry to France are changing often so it’s important to check for the most up-to-date information when making your travel plans and again before you start your trip. Details can be found at this government website: France Diplomacy, and will vary depending what country you are coming from and whether or not you are vaccinated.
France requires anyone who wants to eat in a restaurant (outdoor terrace included) to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. The same goes for admittance to museums, theaters, stadiums and public buildings.
I was able to show my CDC vaccination card (from the U.S.) for this purpose and had no issues. I did apply for France’s Health Pass known as the “Passe Sanitaire” a few weeks before my trip, but did not receive it in time.
As of the time of writing, it seems France is no longer offering online processing of the Health Pass for foreign tourists (they are offering it online for foreign students). Currently, you can only obtain the Health Pass once in France, at participating pharmacies. They are referring to this as a “Certificate of Vaccine Equivalence” and you are required to show your passport and proof of vaccination at the pharmacy which may charge a fee. Find the latest information here: How tourists can obtain a French Health Pass.
You can also get a temporary Health Pass, good for 72 hours, by visiting a pharmacy and paying for a rapid Covid-19 test. You will see these testing sites everywhere, often in tents, and the test result will be ready in about 15 minutes. The cost seems to be between 25-40 euros. I did this while in Paris as I was told I required a negative test to visit museums, because I didn’t have the Health Pass. That turned out to be incorrect as my CDC card was accepted everywhere. (Again, this is changing all the time.) The rapid test was fast and seamless. I didn’t need an appointment, I just walked in.
What to Pack for Paris
I won’t go into a lot of detail here about packing for Paris but I will say that Parisians love neutrals; you won’t see them wearing a lot of bold patterns or bright colors. That is great news: you can easily make a wardrobe work around black, white, navy, beige etc. which should allow you to mix and max your pieces and pack lighter. (A post on what to pack for Paris coming soon). And remember to leave room to buy something on your trip, because shopping in Paris can be a lot of 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 when I went to Spain. 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 wine time.
Perhaps the most important tip is to bring comfy shoes. Parisian women are very stylish but you won’t typically 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.
Also Parisian chic – pulling a little umbrella from your tote bag when it starts to rain. Pack a small, light umbrella that you won’t mind carrying with you. A beret is fun and will help keep your head warm and dry in cooler temps – if you don’t have one you can buy one in Paris.
Luggage for Paris Travel
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 smaller bags and liked having one with me. 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 check when you are deciding whether to book). If you need new luggage, my absolute favourite brand is Monos. I’ve reviewed it in this post, with lots of photos: 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 will give you peace-of-mind to know someone will be waiting with your name on a sign, then it’s money well spent.
I decided to forgo a booked car, and simply get 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 was not busy the day I arrived so I had not wait, but I am told it can be busy. It is staffed with helpful attendants who will show you to a taxi. 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 its location. I am told that most Paris taxi drivers still don’t accept credit cards so have cash ready. I asked the driver if a credit card was ok and he said he preferred cash. Tips aren’t necessary in Paris but a few extra euros is a nice gesture. Remember to say “Merci Beaucoup!” I would not hesitate recommending an airport taxi.
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. 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 and the river which sparkled in the afternoon sun. I was overwhelmed with a happy feeling of “pinch me, I’m in Paris!” I stopped for an afternoon meal and then returned to my apartment to go early to bed.
It was the perfect first day in Paris, wandering without an agenda. I would not go to a museum or plan any special activity on your arrival day. I would save museums and special dinners for the other days. If you’re tired, people watching while sitting in a beautiful garden such as the Tuileries or at café can be enjoyable.
Be prepared that jetlag might make you feel a little emotional about being solo 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 such a good idea. I was over it by the next day and knew it was an excellent idea!
Safety in Paris
I felt very safe during my time alone in Paris. I was comfortable walking around Paris on my own in the evening because there were always so many people everywhere. I stuck to well lit and crowded areas and didn’t stay out especially late. That said, as with any city, you need to 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. 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 tips and contact info if 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 activity or show and take an Uber Back to the hotel after. More on that 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.
Using the Paris Metro
I love walking in Paris so only used the Metro a few times. There are metro stops every few blocks – look for the M. Usually you can buy a ticket from an attendant. If there isn’t one around, there are ticket machines. They can be a little confusing, but people are willing to help if you ask. Zone 1-2 tickets covers transportation around central Paris. I purchased a book of 10 single use tickets and didn’t use them all in 10 days. Keep in mind that most Paris metros have a lot of stairs. Trains can get crowded at certain times and you have to be aware of pick pockets. Keep your ticket with you until you leave the station. Some of the Metro stations are quite beautiful inside, as are the iconic signs outside the stations.
Using Uber in Paris
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 when the app confirms your ride, with the one on the car that pulls up.
Solo Travel Paris - Making the Most of Paris on Your Own
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. As of the fall of 2021, 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, considered one of the finest historic houses in the Marais district, built in 1659.
And of course the Louvre. 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 go early 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.
After you finish in Denon you could carry on to explore another wing. Of course the Louvre was a palace before it was a museum, and another popular highlight is found in the Richelieu wing: the Napoleon III Apartments. 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.
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, Le Bon Marché, Galeries Lafayette, Le Printemps and the recently reopened La Samaritaine are all a special experience. La Samaritaine’s Art Nouveau murals, grand staircase and glass-topped atrium have been restored to their former glory. The Galeries Lafayette Haussman is the flagship of this French brand – a gorgeous department store with in the 9th arrondissement with something for every budget. In addition to shopping you can take a Macaron Baking Class here.
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.
But I particularly love strolling and shopping in Saint Germain (the name of the neighbourhood as well as its main shopping street.)
If your shopping budget is limited, I’ve written about my favourite budget-friendly Paris boutiques, almost all started by Parisian women and several by midlife women. You can read that here: Affordable French Clothing Brands.
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 including 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.
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. 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.
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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