Alone and in Paris for the first time!

Aug 12th, 2011, 01:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Alone and in Paris for the first time!

Any ideas for a female traveling alone to Paris would be so very helpful! Eating alone, clubs and bars, things to watch out for? I will be in the city of lights for about 11 days at the beginning of October. So far I have no set plans except for the studio I've decided to rent from a lady on Airbnb in the 10 district. I have no experience with public transportation and I plan to use the metro while I'm there. Any help?
CybilVane is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 01:22 PM
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You are so lucky! Nobody with whom to negotiate for the schedule, the menu, the sights... You get to do exactly what you want.
kerouac is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 01:33 PM
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Where are you going to be staying in the 10th? There are some jazz clubs in the 10th, but parts of it aren't that great. I hope the hotel is very near a metro stop, in any case, as that is the biggest tip I might give on this topic. I go to Paris alone all the time and always try to make sure I am staying within a couple blocks of a metro stop, as you do not want to be wandering around dark streets late at night alone for a long period. Now I wouldn't worry about it in areas where there are lots of people on the streets so much, even at night. Although I stay in Montparnasse and am kind of surprised at how many "unusual" people you'll find on the streets compared to the old days, even right in front of cafes. IN fact, there was some guy lying down on the sidewalk in front of the Rotonde, one of my favorite hangouts -- not sure if he was passed out from being drunk or what. But my point is, I didn't think a guy lying on the sidewalk was exactly "okay", so I went up to a waiter in the Rotonde and pointed out the guy and asked if he should call the police or SAMU or something, and he just shrugged and said no. So, due to economic circumstances or whatever, I've noticed an increase in people begging for money in the street, drunks passed out, various things like that, even coming along the area where you are sitting outside in front of a cafe and perhaps harrassing you for money a little bit.

I have seen the police call SAMU or something for a drunk passed out in front of a cafe along the quai in front of Notre Dame, though. They came and took him off.

so my best tips are to be cautious like any big city. There is nothing about eating alone to watch out for, not sure what you mean about that, don't you eat alone at home sometimes? I don't frequent clubs at my age so can't comment on that experience for a single female. I'm pretty independent and not timid, but I don't think even when I was younger that I'd roam around a city at night alone going to clubs by myself. I was never really a club-type person, though, so maybe that's why.

I don't go to bars in Paris, either, I go to cafes which can serve a similar purpose but where it is normal to sit at a table by yourself on the sidewalk and have a drink. I prefer being out on the street, actually, I suppose that's one reason I don't go to bars, also (any place outside where people are visible is "easier" to hang out for me as a single female, but maybe that's my quirk).

I suppose you'll figure out how to use the metro and bus system, but it probably will be a challenge if you've never been on such things, at least in the beginning. Im' sure you'll pick things up easily, but don't be careless on the metro/bus with your belongings, don't not be aware of where they are, let things dangle open down at your side, etc., or you could be pickpocketed. These seem normal to me, but if you've never used public transportation, maybe you wouldn't think of it.
Christina is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269 Paris

might search airb&b here and on google recent lawsuits

negative complaints always have a back up plan... somtimes

In Paris they cram u in a multiple shared bath room flat so

always have a backup plan and

couple of nice budget places I like.
qwovadis is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 01:50 PM
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reputable reliable poster here had negative experience

in Amsterdam wit Airbnb reviewed below

so be VERY careful lots of negatives

We were met at the door by Robert, our host, who immediately informed us that we owed him €35 more a night for the room, because he had "made a mistake". We had the copy of our Airbnb receipt in hand, so we put off that discussion until we saw the room. He led us down a short flight of stairs from the hallway to a single dark room.

"Where is the door?", we asked. "Oh, you won't need a door, you are at the bottom of the steps", he replied. We could see that the steps led off a common hallway right next to the bathroom. Anyone using the bathroom, or going into the kitchen would have to turn on the hall light which would shine right through the open banister railings onto our bed, and we would hear all of the conversations and traffic in the hallway and kitchen. "Robert", we said, "a room without a door is NOT a PRIVATE room!" A private room should have a door that both closes and LOCKS.

Ignoring that, Robert explained that the dingy room could be brightened by opening the Venetian blinds that covered the two large windows on the far side of the room. When we did so, we could see there was a well traveled footpath right outside the windows. No privacy there. With the shades closed, there was only a single thin strip fluorescent light on one side of the bed and a floor lamp with what looked like a ten watt bulb on the other side. Instead of a shade, that lamp had a small pink plastic laundry basket turned upside down on top. Robert is an artist, and one huge canvas on it's stretcher leaned against the stairway beside the bed.

With the shades open, we could see that the room was absolutely filled with stuff. Every bookshelf was full, the tops of the book cases were crammed with bric-a-brac.. There was, literally, no flat surface to put anything down other than the floor. There was no dresser, and the only place to hang clothes was a pole under the stairs that was completely jammed with clothing. Not a single free hanger, or even a place to force one in. It was obvious we would have to live out of our suitcases on the floor. When we asked him if he could move some of the stuff out, he said, "Well, this is MY room!"
Evidently the "regular" rental rooms were booked, so we were in his own dungeon.

No, Robert, it is OUR room. We rented it.

We told him that we doubted we could stay in the space with no privacy, no security, and no place to put our gear. His response was he could show us another room, but it was already rented, and he doubted the other couple would be willing to switch with us. Since we had not seen the other rooms, and/or other guests, my wife asked him how many people would be using the single bathroom. "Seven", he replied, "and of course me and my partner."
qwovadis is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 01:54 PM
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Posts: 45,650 - everything you need to know about public transportation in Paris. Learn about it ahead of time to avoid surprises.
StCirq is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 04:07 PM
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thank you everyone! especially kerouac in fact, i really do feel liberated for traveling alone, anywhere i am is exactly where i need to be!

and qwovadis i appreciate your warnings but i really hope i researched the place i decided on finally enough to know it is reputable, the renter has many positive reviews and i have communicated with her quite a bit, i feel confident about it, though i know very little about the neighborhood having never been to paris

thank you too christina, i hope i chose a favorable part of the tenth, my main reason for visiting clubs was because i was hoping to meet some of the locals, either way i'll smile! or have picnics on the street!
CybilVane is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 04:10 PM
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thank you all for your advice, most of it has made me more fearful...but i guess that's what i get for booking a trip on a whim because of a still confident that it will all work out for me even if i have to-"rely on the kindness of strangers"
CybilVane is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 04:43 PM
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I love traveling solo and I love Paris. 10th arrondisement would not have been my choice as I would have gone for something more central (1, 4, 5, 6). When I'm traveling alone I don't go out to clubs and bars at night. I stick with sightseeing by day, having a few nice meals, and being back before it's dark. But you can certainly decide for yourself once you see the neighborhood you've chosen. You might feel safer using taxis at night instead of public transportation. The Metro can be kind of confusing so take the good advice to study up on it ahead of time so you understand how things work.

A regular folding paper map of Paris is your friend.
suze is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 04:53 PM
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If you must go out at night take a taxi, is much safer than taking the metro.
kismetchimera is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 05:21 PM
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You will have a great time in Paris. Just use your common sense and take the usual precautions as in any big city. The Metro is easy to use after one or two trips. Reading some guide books will give you a better idea on what to expect and should help in planning your intineary.

ronaldkwok is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 05:50 PM
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Hi Cybilvane -

I thought I would go by myself last Oct. too - but in the end my husband ending up coming with me. At any rate, I took special note of women by themselves, since that would have been me. And, in hindsight I think I would have been perfectly content and completely free on my own. There are woman going about their day alone just as a woman would in any big city - and as as you likely do in your daily life - shopping, sitting at outdoor cafes. Please don't be fearful! This will be a dream come true for you - this was my third trip back since it is truly is the most wonderful city.

I think sitting outside in a cafe with your sunglasses on (and a cute colorful scarf on) so you can people watching is a great time. Also, you will be able to browse in shops for as long as you like - and eat when and where you want. Take a book and hang out at the Luxembourg Garden - I didn't read my book very much (but its a nice security blanket)- so much to watch.

The browsing/shopping in the 4th (Marais) is young, fun and boutiquey.

Have a wonderful trip to Paris.
davispeets is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 08:56 PM
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I found my solo trip to Paris to be much more "productive" than subsequent visits. Keep your guidebook handy and make notes of everything you want to see and do. Nobody there to complain about your schedule or lack thereof. I've always felt very safe in Paris, but I don't usually stay out very late. When I was there solo, I'd make a dinner reservation and relax and enjoy both the food and observing the other diners, then head home to come up with the next day's plan and get a good nights sleep. I got a little lonely toward the end of the trip, but that was before I started taking a laptop with me.

You will be fabulous on your own!
theflock is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 09:06 PM
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I have made several solo trips to Paris and loved the freedom to set my own schedule, be spontaneous, and do the kinds of things my friends and family might not be so likely to enjoy. I have written some of these trips up, and you might get some ideas from my trip reports:
Nikki is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 09:24 PM
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I too have loved being in Paris on my own. Here's my trip report from last year, and you'll see why. You'll be fine in the 10th. October is a perfect time to be there.
nancy1652 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 09:42 PM
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Congrats on planning this trip and taking the leap to do it solo. A couple of these posts scared me a bit too, and I've been to Paris solo several times ;-), but don't worry, it will all be good. Paris is an easy city in which to travel solo since there is so much to see and do. Agree with the above poster to get a guidebook to learn the basics of the metro travel--Paris is one of the easiest systems I've used. One price for each trip within central Paris, but buy a "carnet" of 10 tickets to get the best per trip price, assuming you'll be using the metro quite a bit during your trip.

When I'm solo, I don't like going to restaurants for every meal...I'll often pick up a crepe or sandwich (you'll see these things sold street-side everywhere), or even pick up convenience foods from a Monoprix or similar store (combo small Target-type and grocery store). I'm sure you'll spend plenty of time sitting in sidewalk cafes...IME you just take any open seat and a waiter will eventually notice you, no need to wait to be seated (but I do try to make eye contact with any waiter hovering outside when I walk up). Again, a guidebook will help you learn how to order your drink of choice so you don't have to rely on English entirely (you'll probably be understood, but it's always nice to use some French). Also learn basic phrases in French and be polite.

As far as the area where you're staying, I would ask your host for advice on your particular neighborhood after dark, and from there you'll just have to judge for yourself. Assuming you won't be out too late on night one due to jetlag, if the 'hood feels creepy that night, don't walk around by yourself after dark on other nights. General common sense stuff. It sounds like you don't live in a big city if you've not used public transportation (unless you live in LA), but just keep your purse/bag close to your body, keep it zipped, don't leave it hanging over the back of a chair, etc. Basically, assume someone wants to walk away with your purse or its contents at all times and handle it as such.

You should do some searches for Paris trip reports on this board, you'll find a lot more info from solo female travelers. Have a great trip!!
Sidny is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 09:50 PM
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We could be more helpful about your accommodation if you could specify where in the 10th the studio is. There's a world of difference between being right on top of the Gare du Nord, and in a side-street off République.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 10:05 PM
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I love traveling solo for exactly the kinds of reasons that kerouac and others are noting. I find it a wonderfully self indulgent experience and far prefer going alone to traveling with someone. I'm a woman, and I think you'll find lots of women and lots of men on this board (and others) who enjoy solo journeys.

I've travelled by myself fairly extensively, and think Paris is one of the easiest cities to explore solo - there is SO much to do there! Before my first visit, I remember thinking that it would be a shame to visit such a romantic city by myself. I'm sure it is a wonderful place to go with one's lover, but I think it is enchanting under any circumstance.

As for eating out, do keep in mind that anyone who chooses to spend time paying attention to whether you are alone or not is using HIS / HER time to do so. Keep in mind that MANY people enjoy people-watching, so you'll be noted whether you are alone or with a party of 10, and no matter whether you are by yourself or with a multitude, why would it be anyone else's business? In contrast, if YOU choose to spend YOUR time and energy worrying about what others are thinking, that's YOUR choice. Don't go there!

I've eaten alone at everything from sandwich shops to Michelin 3 star restaurants and basically everything in between, and I've had some absolutely wonderful experiences! I usually take a book (or a Kindle in recent years) and I savor the chance to choose the restaurant I want and the way I want to experience it. And I believe that attitudes have changed over time: 20 or 25 years ago, I think people were less accustomed to seeing solo female diners and some of them "worried" about whether etiquette required them to somehow reach out to us (and of course some were simply too curious to hide their interest). Even in those days, the more comfortable I allowed myself to be, the fewer awkward moments I experienced. I haven't encountered those reactions very often in recent years. Instead, I'm more likely to hear either overt or whispered comments that explicitly acknowledge how nice it is that someone can, today, feel free to treat him/herself to whatever meal or other experience they want.

Go and enjoy!
Hope this helps.
kja is offline  
Aug 12th, 2011, 10:10 PM
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PS: Here's a Fodor's site devoted to solo travel. Please post when you return!
kja is offline  
Aug 13th, 2011, 07:59 AM
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I traveled to Paris solo in May 2010 and am going again in October. I love being alone, it is me going at my own pace, doing the things I love to do and eating when I want. I travel with my sister often and she's more of a go-go-go type traveler, so we spend some time debating our daily plans.

I don't really like sitting alone in bistros or cafes, but did it twice last year and got great service. I'll try to do more of it this upcoming trip. What I did was buy lunch from La Grande Epicerie (usually a sandwich on baguette, great meat, cheese) and then fix pasta or steak for dinner in my apartment. There are thousands of meal options, so you can pick whatever style suits you best.

When I travel alone I don't like being out after dark, although I've always been assured that the streets of Paris in most of the touristy areas are very safe. The last time I went with my sister we were often out until 11 pm and saw women walking alone, going about their daily routines.

You're going to have a fantastic time! Paris is wonderful, and you'll find your 11 days will go by super fast!
Ruby99 is offline  

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