Paris is a city for couples, and the countless number of lovers embracing in the streets is a constant reminder. But solo travelers needn’t shy away from the City of Light. Take it from an expert – there are plenty of ways to indulge in Paris on your own!
Here are some tips I’ve developed over the years for Paris “tout seul”:
It can be tricky in any city to go to a restaurant on your own. It takes guts. Those looking to eat in Paris’ trendier addresses and gourmet restaurants may find them slightly awkward for solo dining. They aren’t necessarily relaxing experiences, but more than that, these long drawn-out meals are meant to be shared, and doing it alone can be, well, a bit depressing.
Opt instead for an outdoor dining experience, like a picnic in a park if the weather allows it. If not, find a nice terrace where you can enjoy your steak frites in peace, with a bit of street theater to keep you occupied between bites. No one will look at you funny, you won’t feel pressured to give up your seat, and you won’t feel left out in a dining room full of chatting friends and acquaintances.
Going out alone at night is easier said than done. But fortunately in Paris, you can forget the clubs and glitzy nightlife and hunker down in one of the many bustling bars or cafés to enjoy a glass of wine or potentially meet some new people. The wine bar at Verjus, for example, is a great place to make new friends, or head to the Belle Hortense in the Marais for a drink with people spilling out onto the street at night.
In any case, if you are looking for something specific – dancing, gay nightlife, parties – do your research beforehand. Many a night has been spent wandering the streets of Paris with nary a hint of where to go when a group of out-of-towners decide they want to stay out all night.
Paris has plenty of options to meet new people. Meetup.com is popular in Paris, as is the Expatriates in Paris Facebook group. There’s also a website called OnVaSortir (“We’re Going Out”) that offers random group meetings from happy hours to walks along the Seine for free.
If you want to dine with new people, there are plenty of ways to do it, including Colunching, a website that allows you to lunch or dine with new people at a variety of restaurants around town. And the Jim Hayne’s dinners each Sunday are legendary ways to meet new people from across the globe while, of course, eating.
Go on tour
Some people feel that walking tours are touristy – and they are. If you’re a tourist, there’s no shame. But they are also great ways to meet new people.
Paris Walks, for example, offers daily tours in English for just €12, and all you have to do is show up.
Paris by Mouth also offers culinary tours that will introduce you to new people and tastes – two birds with one stone, right? If nothing else, at least you’ll discover a slice of Paris you may not have known before.
A big problem for people traveling alone is that they worry. It’s understandable, but try not to. Thousands of people before you have survived a visit to Paris on their own, if only for one day, and some for years, so just relax. Have some addresses jotted down and a book on hand for any downtime, and enjoy.
Your tips for enjoying Paris “tout seul”?
How have you enjoyed Paris on your own? Share your tips with other solo travelers below in our comments section.