Just how depressing is that topic? It describes loneliness and misery even when that is not the case. I mean, it is the Paris in France where most people’s romantic fantasies come true! Then you find yourself there ALONE?
At least that is what my best friend, Amanda, thought when I told her I would be going to Paris alone for a fortnight. She did not care that I was out for work and pleasure. It was such a big deal she was convinced am losing it in life. She even offered to go with me.
When I was there, I really tried feeling lonely and miserable. I tried hard and failed successfully. Maybe it is because I visited all the right places, or maybe it is just awesome. Let me tip you on how to thrive in The City of Lights.
Where to Stay
Call me crazy, but within the two weeks I was in Paris I stayed in two different hotels. Talk of being the one calling the shots: I felt like doing so and I did it. I was particularly looking for hotels where my items would be safe and with close proximity to a transportation means.
The Community of Quality (C.O.Q) Hotel, located in the 13th arrondissement, was my first. It felt like home because it gave me enough personal space and the environment excited my solitude. Working from the hotel was convenient for me.
I then moved to the 9th arrondissement’s Perfect Hotel & Hostel in my last week in the city. I wanted to mingle with people more. I loved their friendly staff and hygienic practices. There, I could borrow a cooking skill or two from people around as we could make our own meals. My valuable items were always safe in the safe.
Where to Eat
In my naive days, I went eating just about anywhere and I was fine because I do not mind eating alone. However, one afternoon I walked into Le Temps des Cerises to have French onion soup and it felt like heaven in my mouth. The neighborhood there is interesting too. If you ever go to the 4th arrondissement, eat at this joint.
You can also make a reservation at Le Chardenoux in the 11th arrondissement and treat yourself with the best French bistro menu in town. It has been in business long enough and has one of the best reviews around.
A little piece of advice though: if it gives you a shiver to eat alone, think of what to do to relax. You can read a book while eating, enjoy a great view or use Wi-Fi in most restaurants. I generally found the food in Paris okay; I wouldn’t worry about it so much.
Places to Visit
They say you have not been to Paris if you have not gone up the Eiffel Towers and visited Louvre Museum. You will literally look good in photos you take at those places. However, there is more to Paris than those two. Refer to your taste and go to any of the following places. Remember to not overwhelm yourself with options (it is a spoiler).
Catacombs of Paris
I went to the largest ossuary in history located 20m underground in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. I was scared that I would get lost and die in there of fear. Now I just laugh at how wrong I was. There is a map to use in the interesting ossuary. The bones are neatly arranged, you will feel proud of yourself for going to see that quiet historic beauty.
Are you a lover of art? Then you are home. 59 Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement is an art collective where artists work and exhibit their works. There is such a variety of talent there; your mind will be blown by loveliness. I had to buy this drawing that I felt pricked my darkest emotions. Yea, right, Amanda took it!
The Palais Garnier
The architecture of this building located in the 9th arrondissement left my mouth ajar. It is among the most famous opera houses in the world of Italian Style. I loved Ballet, even more, when I watched it in the opera, and the music was just on its own level. Your solo travel to Paris gets worthier after this experience.
What to Do
It is all about what you prefer to do during your free time; just yours. You could sit and listen to your playlist with your feet in Canal Saint-Martin or just watch people walk there. Doing nothing else but enjoying a great view is part of the plan. Some other interesting activities you can indulge in include the following:
Attend a cooking class
This changed my life. You should see my best friend frowning as she begs me to make her foods from Paris that she cannot even pronounce. They are simple macarons and pastries, but I refer to them by their French names to complicate her life.
At La Cuisine Paris, you shall find cooking and baking classes for Paris visitors. They have a variety of lessons depending on what interests you. Their Choux Pastry would be the best breakfast idea any man can adopt as he apologizes to his wife for forgetting their wedding anniversary.
While some people would like to smell like the jungle, flowers, and vanilla, others just want a unique scent. The French city has legendary perfumeries to help you find your signature scent. Exploring perfumes was so much fun; I spent more than an hour sniffing. Renowned perfumeries include Fragonard Boutique Montmartre, Nose and Parfums Caron.
Explore the nightlife
This should be interesting for anybody, as long as you keep your movements in safe neighbourhoods with lights. You could enjoy a silent lit walk along The Seine and stare at the beautiful buildings and reflection of the stars.
You can also let loose and go to La Mano in the 9th arrondissement to dance and drink a little. You will not need to go with any company; there are very interesting people to mingle with at this city. Just have your guts in place.
Well, how else will you brag about the grand trip besides the numerous souvenirs? You will also find yourself wanting to store these memories. I had not even given this part much thought, but I could not help it when I got there. My best photo was of the Louvre Pyramid at sunset. Just calming!
Means of Transport
On the Tracks
- Metro – fastest means of transport if you want to move from one arrondissement to another. They mostly operate underground and are less crowded during rush-hours.
- The RER – best if you are traveling in the suburbs.
- The Tram’ – best if you moving around the outskirts of Paris.
- Bus – best if you want to move around fast and sightsee simultaneously
- Balabus and Opentour – the most convenient means for tourists who want to sightsee and get to tourist sites at lower prices.
- Taxi – best if you want to reach your destination fast. It costs a little more than public transport does.
- Bike – best way to freely move from one neighbourhood to another. The bikes are available at any bike station once you subscribe to Velib.
- Batobus – forget traffic and travel on The Seine River.
- The Bateaux-mouches – moving about on water over lunch or dinner. It is best for you if you want to discover top sites in la Ville Lumiere.
See? Going to Paris alone is not the worst thing that could happen to you. I honestly think if you get over your fears, this will be the best thing you ever did to your dear self. You get to do everything you want in a new city and please nobody else but you.
I am looking forward to my next solo travel to any other city stereotyped to be for couples only. I think those are the best for solo travellers. As for Amanda, we are planning a trip to Paris together. However, we still cannot decide if going together will make it better than what I had ALONE.
Book that ticket and go to Paris already!