Paris is known for its romance but it’s also one of my favourite cities for solo travel. In fairness, I didn’t expect to love Paris. I actually only went for the first time in 2011 because I heard of the Christmas Markets but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the cobblestone streets, boulangeries, and the way the Eiffel Tower sparkles like a diamond at night (fun fact: technically it’s illegal to photograph that because its considered art). Sure, Paris is romantic but who said a solo traveller can’t enjoy those aspects of the city too. So if you’re on the fence about going to Paris solo, then read on. Here’s why I love and recommend solo travel in Paris.
Solo Travel in Paris is Safe
Safety is always one of the biggest concerns for solo travellers, especially solo female travellers. While it’s important to keep in mind that Paris is a big city like any other, I’ve always felt safe walking around and exploring on my own. You do need to keep your eye on your belongings (pickpockets) and of course know that there will be the typical street hustlers trying to sell you stupid knickknacks and scammers trying to get your money (people pretending they are deaf and asking for donations is a common scam), but as long as you remain aware of your surroundings you will be fine.
While I’ve never gone to a bar or club in Paris on my own, I’ve had no problem stopping in a cafe or restaurant in the afternoon or evening for a glass of wine. I’ve seen many solo men and women doing the same so I’ve never felt like I stood out or felt awkward about it. Of course, I don’t get drunk on my own but I am more comfortable going out for a drink alone in Paris than I am in many other destinations.
At the end of the day, the key is to remember that Paris is a big city like any other. Don’t do anything here that you wouldn’t do at home and, if you are uncomfortable or being harassed, duck into a shop or restaurant and ask for help.
Getting Around Paris is Easy
The metro is the easiest way to get around Paris. It’s very easy to use with big signs on the wall indicating where to go for which direction. I suggest keeping a map of the metro on you (normally they are included on any city map) to keep track of station names and directions since there are tons of routes and stops and it can get a bit confusing. Again, keep an eye on your belongings. If you have a backpack, wear it on your front here.
I’ve walked around busy parts of Paris at night by myself and it’s been fine. When I first visited I was sort of chased down by a local guy and his friends who wanted to talk to me. Nothing happened, I just wasn’t comfortable so I pretended I didn’t speak English (or French) and walked away quickly- they left me alone. If it’s too late and the streets are quiet, I always recommend grabbing a taxi for peace of mind. I’ve done this even with friends after getting out late from the Moulin Rouge. It’s just more comfortable and that’s worth the money. After all, I’d do the same at home.
Solo Dining in Paris Doesn’t Have to be Awkward
One of the biggest downfalls of solo travel is eating alone. I’ve gotten used to it over the years but still try to make sure I have a book to read, or stop somewhere with wifi so I can check Instagram or facebook. Worse case I’ll just scroll through the photos on my camera while I eat to give me something to do (especially after my awkward solo dining experience in Vienna).
While I do enjoy treating myself to a good solo meal every now and then, sometimes I just don’t want to deal with the ‘why are you alone’ questions. Paris is perfect for that thanks to all the little cafes and boulangeries across the city. I frequently pop into one of these shops and just grab a sandwich to go, or a croissant and a hot chocolate, then find a bench nearby to eat. The food is good, the views are good, and you’ll see a dozen other people doing the same thing so you don’t stand out as weird. Besides, isn’t one of the ‘must-do’ things in Paris to have a picnic by the Seine?
As mentioned earlier, it’s pretty common to see both men and women eating alone at cafes anyways. So, if you want that restaurant experience- then go for it. Unlike in other countries (looking at you Italy!), I’ve never been questioned in Paris about why I’m dining alone.
There are tons of Great Accommodation Choices for Small Budgets
I’m all for hostels as a solo traveller to meet people but sometimes, especially when I’m travelling for an extended period of time, I really just want a room to myself. Queue the cute but affordable hotels. Paris has tons of them.
Now, I say budget loosely because this is Paris. But when a bed in a hostel dorm costs about $45CAD a night then spending $90CAD on your own private room doesn’t seem too bad. These spots aren’t fancy and don’t have Eiffel Tower views, but I’ve found a few good ones with private bathroom facilities and great locations.
If you’re cool staying in a hostel, then Paris has some good ones as well. I’ve personally stayed in two different ones and enjoyed both.
- Le Village
- St. Christopher’s Inn Paris Canal -this is a bit outside the heart of the city, but a cool neighbourhood. They have another hostel by the Gare du Nord here.
Have just a few days in Paris? Check out my 3 Day Paris guide.
The Best Part of Paris is Just Exploring
Another thing I consider when travelling solo is how easy it is to explore on your own. Not only is this my preferred way to travel, but also there are tons of tours that require a minimum number of people to run and my 1 person doesn’t always make the cut. Paris is definitely perfect for exploring on your own pace and on your own time.
In fact, for me, exploring and getting lost in the city’s cobblestone streets is the best way to really experience Paris. Personally, my favourite neighbourhood is Montmartre. Every time I visit Paris I make sure to spend part of a day here because the cute buildings, cafes, and little shops make it perfect for getting lost in.
While just wandering is my favourite part of being in Paris, there are tons of great attractions to go to as well. Of course, everyone goes to them so there tends to often be lineups which, for me, is where things can get pretty boring being alone. For that reason, I often will purchase an advance ticket online with skip-the-line access. Not only does it mean I don’t have to wait around bored by myself, but it also means I get to make more use of my time.
Looking to get out of Paris for a day? Check out my top day trips from Paris post.
The People Aren’t As Unfriendly As They Say
One of the things that you hear the most about Paris is how unfriendly the locals are. To be honest, this was something I worried about too. Now, I’m not going to lie and tell you that they are the kindest people you will ever meet but, they aren’t as bad as some would have you think either. You probably won’t be invited to a local’s home for dinner, but they also won’t chase you down the streets screaming either.
Of course, this depends on how you behave as a tourist (nobody likes a rude and crappy tourist). One of the things that I’ve found really goes a long way is being able to speak a little bit of French. Even the basics like Hello (Bonjour) and Thank-You (Merci) do go a long way. The more French you speak (even with a crappy French Canadian accent like mine) the easier you will find things. In my experience, the locals really do appreciate that you are trying. Check this article for some helpful but basic French phrases.
Solo travel in Paris is a ton of fun and can be really magical, so don’t let the fact that it’s known as a romantic city hold you back and prevent you from visiting.