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Just booked first solo trip - Paris, here I come!

Just booked first solo trip - Paris, here I come!

Mar 3rd, 2005, 07:51 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 316
Just booked first solo trip - Paris, here I come!

Well, I've gone and done it! After reading many, many Fodorites' posts on solo travel and admiring and envying them for striking out on their own, I just today made reservations (using FF miles) for seven nights in Paris in October by myself!

I've never traveled alone for any amount of time (other than throughout my home state on weekends), and have wanted to, but never quite had the nerve. Now that I've been to Paris a couple of times and feel like I know the city center quite well, I've decided to just do it. I also made my hotel reservation this morning at the Hotel du College de France, based on recommendations here and reviews on Trip Advisor.
I usually travel with one friend who is a great travel companion, and 1 1/2 years ago, went with five others to Italy. After the Italy trip, I decided "never again" with that many people, and a trip by myself started sounding really appealing. Now that I've made the commitment, it's a little scary, but very exciting. The only thing I'm uneasy about is the dining alone experience that some others also find daunting. Oh well, at least I'm in good company!

I know that I'm gonna get really nervous as the time gets closer, but right now I'm over the moon and will be monitoring Fodors for other solo trip reports.
TravelerGina is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 07:57 AM
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Congratulations! You will have a wonderful time! I think it's great that you are going to stike out on your own.
gracie04 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:10 AM
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I have no doubt that you will manage quite fine.

My only concern is how long you have to wait until October!
WillTravel is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:19 AM
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Posts: 162

Don't worry about dining alone. Europe is not the U.S. The only person who will find you conspicuous is you. No one will even notice. Those who do notice will merely believe you are mysterious.

Pilchard is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:34 AM
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I'm sooooo jealous! I'm looking to do something similar and on the cheap, but haven't found the right deal yet.

What is it about dining alone that you find daunting? I do it frequently, and although it can sometimes be boring, for the most part it's fine and, I believe, perfectly acceptable. Single people (as in solo, not unmarried) need to eat too! Besides, you'll probably meet people, even if just at the next table, and share their company.

Good for you!
Iregeo is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:35 AM
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Way to go TravelerGina! I've been to Paris on my own a few times and have enjoyed it. While traveling with others has its benefits, I also appreciate the flexibility that traveling solo brings: Sleep in this morning? sure...stop at a cafe and stay for a couple of cremes, why not...walk around and do nothing today, sounds good...I do try to plan a few "communal" events, like a tour (Pariswalks is one, I also do french ones) so I get some group time.
I also share your concern about eating alone (never do it at home!), but have found that it is no big deal at restaurants/cafes. I have sensed at times that the servers actually are friendlier, more attentive to solo diners. I always bring something to read, like a guidebook or Pariscope magazine, and plan my days during this time. I like the idea that others have of updating your journal at this time, and will try that next time. Believe me, you will see people reading. My one concession to eating solo at a restaurant is that I tend to show up their opening time (~8pm for diner). Some of these places are small, and I figure I'm taking a table for two, but they only get one patron. So I eat (well) and I tell myself they can then give my table to a couple next. Probably nonsensical, I've never felt at all rushed at a restaurant because I was eating "juste moi". I'm slowly starting the planning to go this fall also...and solo.
Enjoy your trip and please report back!
Michel_Paris is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:43 AM
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Good for you!! You won't regret it. I went solo to Paris/France in 2003 for 3 weeks and had a fabulous time. Don't worry about eating alone - trust me it's no big deal. I didn't have any problems getting a good table and service. Actually in a few places, I think I got exceptional service because I was alone. Take a journal with you in case you feel uncomfortable - it helps while you are waiting for the food to arrive. You will have a wonderful time!
Barb is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:47 AM
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Dear TravelerGina,
I went to Paris solo as my first trip after a long hiatus of not traveling at all for about 8 years. I had an absolute ball. My time there were a combination of activity-packed days where I took in more than one museum a day and other days where I was content to eat a sandwich and read a book while sitting on a bench in the Luxembourg Gardens. Oh yes....I had wine for lunch and (predictably) a nice little nap afterwards every day! I would light out on the Metro sometimes just to see another neighborhood, with no particular destination in mind and that was fun too.

The tip I think would be useful for you is to pick, about a day or so after arrival, a congenial cafe which is close to your hotel and which is open pretty much all day and into the evening. Use it as your "local", your place to start or end your days, to write in your journal or do postcards, to have a light meal when you're really tired and don't want to tackle a "real" restaurant. If you are as lucky as I was, the staff will remember you and make you feel at home. After two mornings at the Cafe l'Odeon, the early-shift waiter remembered exactly how I liked my cafe creme and fixed it that way every time thereafter.

The neighborhood you've chosen is great for places to eat and drink. It's also populated late into the night with a largely student clientele, so it does not feel deserted at all.
dovima is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:48 AM
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Hi TG,

Good for you.

>The only thing I'm uneasy about is the dining alone experience that some others also find daunting. <

No problem.

Bring a book and/or your trip journal. You can always set them aside if you meet someone interesting.
ira is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:56 AM
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I always go to Paris solo. That way I can do whatever I want without being annoyed. Take your time, shop, try on clothes, walk the streets, alleys and parks. Get up when you want, take a nap, stay out all night. ....

It no big deal.

The hardest part sometimes is eating in restaurants. I hate going to crowdwd places because i don't want to feel alone. Here are some dining "Solo" tips...

1. Bring a book, journal or something to occupy you between courses.

2. Eat you big meal at lunch. That way you may save some money and many people will be dining solo when they come from offices, shopping and sightseeing.

3. Scope out a bunch of restarrants before you go.

4. Eat you meals early before the places get crowded. Hit the restaurants right as they open, this is also a god way to land a seat without reservations.

5. Check out my blog from my trip to Paris in November 2004. Not only does it have my day to day activities, but if you click on the tab marked "Paris-Eat", you will find al the restaurants I ate at which are good for solo travelers.


Have fun!
richardab is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 09:28 AM
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TravelGina - I discovered travelling alone several years ago and many tried to talk me out of it. Actually I was not aware that others travel alone as much till I came across this forum last year. Travelling alone in countries with a well established toursit industry are simple.

Feeling consciousness when dining alone is only the lonely diners state of mind. There is always a travel book to plan the next day and something to write on in case you got tired of people watching or people talking to you. And a restaurant is a culinary experience and keeps one entertained. I came across very good to neutral service in more occasions than biases from the waiters.
zbjoon is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 09:38 AM
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YAAAY! Another bird takes to flight!
Aaaah the Freedom. I'll ditto everything everyone has said above.
The "dining alone part"... I do it all the time, here and "there"... coz I choose to, not that I have to.
I truly believe no one takes any time out of their lives to wonder why one is alone. I'm a fairly typical person, I see a woman eating alone I don't give it another thought! I think she's probably on business.
I particularly enjoyed Michel-Paris' and Richardab's comments.
Frankly, I'm always so BUSHED anyway from my day's "work" in Paris, I can't see how I'd keep my eyes open until late late...! <GRIN>
That and I'm always up by 5:30 or 6:00...
SuzieC is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 09:48 AM
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TravelerGina - I am leaving the end of April for my 3rd solo trip to Paris. There are times when I wish I had a friend with me but more times than not I prefer being alone. So much to see and do. Something I've never done before but will do this time is take the batobus which runs along the Seine and stops off at different places like Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc.

You will do just fine. You already are quite familiar with Paris.

I too am uneasy about dining alone. myself? My main worry when dining in a casual cafe is,is it okay to seat myself, do I wait to be seated.

Richard I have bookmarked your blog on I love Paris, London, etc. Can't wait to start reading it.

Gina have a wonderful time.
Madison is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 09:54 AM
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Oh, how fun! I also prefer solo travel most times, and I think you will have a terrific time!

As for eating alone? Don't worry about it. Like others have said, bring a book or journal to fill time. But I know that the times I've dined solo in areas outside of where I live, either I get more attention from the wait staff or I end up meeting some one there to have dinner with. Just be open to the new experience and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
Chele60 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 11:51 AM
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On my last trip to Paris I used lunch and dinner to write my blog, which I posted live via Blackberry. It was also a nice time to sit and write postcards, look at my maps and REST MY FEET!
richardab is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 12:12 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement! I am so excited about having a whole week to experience Paris on my own and at my own pace. Since I've seen all the big attractions, I love the idea of getting up in the morning with no agenda and doing whatever sounds good at that moment.

WillTravel: My friends all agree with me that "the older you get, the faster time goes by", so October should be right around the corner - lol.

Pilchard: Thanks - I like the idea of other diners seeing me as mysterious!

Oregeo: Grabbing a sandwich in a fast food place doesn't bother me, but I've never gone to real restaurant alone and think I would feel a little self-concious for some reason. However, I rarely notice others dining alone, and if I do notice, think nothing of it. So, I guess I'll just step out of my comfort zone into that unfamiliar territory and experience yet another first!

Richard, I too am looking forward to reading your blog on Paris.

I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments and will definitely be putting your suggestions to good use.
TravelerGina is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 12:17 PM
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Take notes on your food at dinner. It gives you something to do if you get tried of people-watching. And sometimes your waiter will think you're a very important restaurant critic.

I had my first solo trip a couple of months ago. The dining alone turned out to be no big deal at all. I wasn't bored and I wasn't self-conscious--quite a surprise.

Have fun!
Leely is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 12:19 PM
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Ahem, *tired* of people-watching.

As far as I know, you cannot be tried for people-watching in France.
Leely is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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Like I said earlier....

Eating at restaurants during off peak hours is no big issue. If you arrive early it will be likey that there will not be a lot of people in the restaurant as Parisians tend to eat a bit later.

In my blog there are a few places that come to mind which would be good for solo dining...

Cozy - this is a small casual place with a good set price menu and warm atmosphere. Just seemed to be locals having lunch, nothing pretentious.

Le Caveau de l'Isle - One of my favorites in Paris on the Ile St-Louis. Nice relaxing atmosphere, friendly, not crowded at lunch. Delicious food.

Le Relais de Saint-Paul - Near the St Paul Metro station in the Marais. Very friendly atmosphere, tables aren't close together and very well prepared food.

L'Endroit - This is in the Marais near the Bastille. It is also my NEW favorite restaurant in Paris. I consider this a wine bistro because they seem specialize in good wine with your meal. The atmosphere is casual and the owner speaks good English and is happy to assist. They have an English menu too. I went here during the weeknight and it did get very busy. I went back on the weekend and you couldn't get near the place, it was packed! I really thought the food was the best i had in most of my trip to Paris.

If you go to my blog the adresses are included with the info I wrote about each restaurant.


One other thing I will add, if you are shopping or near Galleries Lafayette go to their food halls (Lafayette Gourmet) and have lunch. Scattered throughout the food halls are counters where you can get a meal at a fixed price. For example, in the meat area you can get a meal featuring meats, Seafood near the seafood counter plus there are counters for Italian food, chesses, coffee and last time I was there I think I saw one with Moroccan foods.

Eat well!

richardab is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 569

You will have a wonderful time in Paris. I travel solo most of the time and definitely PREFER it. My husband travels occasionally but doesn't get into it much, and I took a coworker last trip. Never again. Travel is too precious not to mention too expensive to run the risk of a bad travel companion.

I still remember the feeling of absolute freedom and joy on my first solo trip. I went to London with a day trip to Bath and 2 nights in Edinburgh.
I sat on top of the Guide Friday bus in the sunshine and felt absolutely giddy.

I have traveled Paris and other parts of France alone many times now. I even drive solo now without a second thought. I eat more at cafes and bistros. I have never felt odd eating alone and never felt treated differently. I love to people watch.

I am also going to Paris solo in October and this time treated myself to an apartment in St. Germain. I also used my ff miles and splurged for Business Elite, a first for me. I love wandering and going exactly at my own pace.

Have a wonderful trip. You will do great, especially with all the support and great information on Fodor's.

ggnga is offline  

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