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With its romantic alleyways, charming Parisian cafes, and the iconic Eiffel Tower, Paris is often considered the perfect getaway for couples. However, this city of love can also offer a fantastic solo experience. I almost skipped Paris during my trip across Europe because of the mixed reviews I received from my friends. Everyone I spoke to seemed to either love Paris or hate it, but I am so glad I went for myself because I loved it! I have written this list of top things to do while traveling to Paris solo to inspire your next adventure to this lovely city.
Is Paris Safe for Solo Travelers?
If you have decided to travel to Paris alone, you are in for an exciting adventure. However, you may be wondering: is Paris safe? It is normal to worry about safety when visiting any big city (especially if you are a woman traveling alone for the first time!). The truth is that Paris is relatively safe if you stay vigilant.
Unfortunately, harassment is more common in Paris than in many other European cities, which can make it daunting to travel solo. During my second day there, a man followed me off the train while continuously catcalling me. Luckily this was in broad daylight, and I could quickly walk to an area with more people and lose him.
However, it is essential to follow basic safety rules. This includes sticking to well-lit areas, not going out late at night, and checking to see if other people are on your train before you get in.
It is also vital to guard yourself against pickpockets. Having your items stolen can ruin your trip, especially when you are on your own. I personally buy travel essentials and purses from Travelon. They are anti-theft, slash-proof, and have a good balance of security and style. Their cross-body purse (my favorite purchase) can also hold quite a lot!
Without further ado, here are the top things to do when traveling to Paris solo:
Enjoy a Parisian Café
Going to a cute café in Paris almost feels like a cliché, but it is a perfect way to start the morning or enjoy the afternoon. Two of the most iconic (and rivaling) cafés are Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore. They boast impressive clientele, including famous existentialists, designers, and novelists. However, they can get quite crowded, and it can be difficult to find seating, especially at Les Deux Magots.
Though I enjoyed checking out the famous cafés in Paris, I found it even more exciting to discover hidden gems. When you are in the mood for coffee and pastries, I highly recommend pulling up Google Maps and simply finding a spot near you with high ratings. Using Google Maps and other useful apps helped me discover less crowded and less touristy cafés with delicious pastries and coffee.
Explore the Art Museums
It would be a shame to miss out on the beautiful art museums. When traveling to Paris solo, you can take the time to explore the museums and pieces that interest you. From the Venus de Milo to the Mona Lisa, there are countless famous artworks in Paris for you to see. My favorite museums include:
Musée d’Orsay: This is my absolute favorite museum in Paris! It houses some of the world’s most famous impressionist and post-impressionist pieces. This includes primarily French paintings and sculptures from the 1840s – 1910s. Despite the museum’s size, it is not too overwhelming. I usually spend a lot of time in art museums, but I could get through Musée d’Orsay in 3-4 hours. I highly recommend purchasing the audio guide at the front of the museum to hear more information on the pieces that draw you in.
Musée de l’Orangerie: I may be biased, but Claude Monet is one of my favorite artists. His paintings are soothing to the soul, and this museum is the permanent home of 8 of his famous Water Lilies. Even those not into art can see beauty in the giant murals. I highly recommend losing yourself in the panoramas and the other impressionist works featured in Musée de l’Orangerie.
Musée Picasso: This museum houses various Picasso pieces, from paintings, sculptures, notebooks, engravings, drawings, and more. I enjoyed the Picasso Museum in Barcelona a little more, but this is still an outstanding location to see his works.
The Louvre: No Paris museum list is complete without the Louvre. If it is your first time visiting Paris, check it out! However, it is incredibly overwhelming, easy to get lost, and you cannot get through the entire museum in a few days, let alone one. This is not to discourage you but to inform you to go in with a plan! Write down a list of the pieces you want to see and map your way to them. Luckily the employees of the museum are very helpful if you get lost.
For any museums that you choose to visit, make sure to book a ticket in advance! I recommend Get Your Guide. It is easy to navigate, the prices are the same as in person, and you can cancel the day before for a full refund.
Shop at Boutiques
Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world! From small boutiques to brand-name stores, it is easy to become inspired. Avenue Montaigne (where you can also check out the beautiful Dior Gallery) and Rue Du Faubourg Saint-Honoré are some of the best options for designer and luxury shopping. They are full of high-end designer boutiques and luxury brands such as Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and more. I love to window shop and feel inspired by the beautiful displays.
If you are looking for more budget-friendly shopping, I recommend Rue Du Commerce and Rue De Rivoli. Rue du Commerce has 100s of shops and is within walking distance of the Eiffel tower. Rue De Rivoli is within walking distance of the Louvre and has dozens of elegant and original boutiques. You can even explore the side streets to find more hidden gems!
One fun fact I discovered when traveling to Paris solo is that there are huge discounts and sales in January and July called Les Soldes. The actual dates vary from year to year and can be found online. These months are a fantastic time to score beautiful purchases at a discount as stores try to make room for the incoming season’s designs.
Sainte-Chapelle has to be one of the most beautiful chapels I have ever seen. Construction of the chapel began in 1238 and took only seven years. King Louis IX of France commissioned it to hold relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns (now held in The Louvre). It now houses an impressive collection of 13th-century stained glass.
Stepping into Sainte-Chapelle is like being transported into a new world, and you can spend quite a bit of time being mesmerized by the beautiful colors and reflections of light. It was easy to get in, and I went on a whim without reserving a ticket in advance, though this resulted in a slightly longer wait time.
Take a Cruise on the Seine
A cruise on the Seine may seem like a very touristy activity (and it is), but it is worth it, especially if it is your first time in Paris. Luckily there are many tour options, and they can be pretty cheap. With a ticket like this one, you can show up at any time during the day you reserve.
I planned my cruise on the Seine for sunset. This way, I could see the city from the river during both the day and night. By the time we got back to our port, I could see the magic of the Eiffel Tower lighting up! The audio part of the tour connects to your phone so make sure to bring headphones. I had forgotten mine, but I still enjoyed myself without the audio and even made new friends on the cruise!
Picnic by the Eiffel Tower
I recommend going early in the day for this activity. When I arrived in Paris at 6 a.m., my hostel would not let me check in yet. It was my first time traveling to Paris solo and I was not sure what to do. I decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower and sit down on the grass to read a book and have breakfast. This moment ended up being one of my favorite memories of Paris. It felt like the Eiffel tower was there just for me.
Now, I am not saying that you need to go at 6 a.m. to enjoy a picnic at the Eiffel tower. It is an incredible experience during any time of the day, and I still loved it when I went back for lunch the next day, but it did feel special being the only person there.
Take a Walking Tour
A guided walking tour is one of my favorite ways to explore a new city, and best of all, they are often free! If you are staying at a hostel (which I highly recommend), you can ask the front desk for walking tour recommendations. Frequently, the hostels themselves offer free tours on certain days. These tours are also a great way to meet new people!
If your hostel does not provide a tour, you can easily book one online through websites such as Guruwalk. You can even search for specific areas and tour types that interest you.
Traveling to Paris solo is a fantastic idea. The many accommodations, transportation, and things to do make it an accessible and easy city to plan your adventure. One last tip before you go: greet everyone you meet with a “Bonjour!” and do not forget to say “Merci!” Even if you have no French skills (like me), Parisians appreciate it when you put in a little effort to speak their language.
I often get nervous saying anything in a language I am unfamiliar with. Even if it is a word that I have heard a million times, I worry about pronunciation and sounding silly, so I sometimes do not try. However, a little goes a long way in Paris and can change your experience. I hope this list inspires and equips you with the right tools to plan your perfect getaway!