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Leely2 Jun 1st, 2009 12:06 PM

Paris Is for Pleasure: Eight Days of Solo Dining, Wandering and Decadence
<b>The Gratitude</b>
I just returned from my first solo visit to Paris and will give a--fairly brief--account of my experiences, with a particular emphasis on apartment-ing and dining alone. My pre-trip anxiety centered on possible problems with both.

Thanks go to Nikki, cigalechanta, plafield, kerouac, Anselm and Margriet, mariarosa, Apres_Londee, schnauzer and all the other Fodor's Paris-philes for the great ideas and inspiring trip reports. Your writings get me through the many months between holidays.

And of course thanks to Monica and elsiejune for arranging two fun GTGs.

<b>The Backstory</b>
After an exciting but exhausting trip with family to Rome and Assisi over the New Year, I really craved a relaxing holiday--<b>by myself.</b> As soon as I got a cheap fare email in February, I bought a ticket to Paris. This trip, I told myself, would involve relaxation, treats, sleeping late and eating well.

I haven't done much solo travel, however, and speak basically no French beyond the courtesies, though I'm dangerously good at reading a menu.

I'm going to try to write objectively/factually about the apartment in and then later I might go wild with subjective opinions and impressions about the rest of the trip.

<b>The Apartment</b>
I had had some trouble with Internet access in Rome, and so wanted an apartment with both wifi and a computer with Internet. I wanted to be able to contact family and friends at home very easily.

In early March I contacted Thierry at <b>Paris Best Lodge</b> about a few of his places with computers and Internet connections. They were all booked. He suggested a friend's apartment, newly renovated and just on the rental market.

I am familiar with that area, so I booked it. I paid 800 &euro; for eight nights. Not a huge bargain but I felt it was a very good value because it had exactly what I needed and wanted.

The location is ideal for a solo traveler. You can walk anywhere at all hours of the day and night. There's a taxi rank at Bastille and also at Saint Paul. Chemin Vert, Bastille and Saint Paul are the closest metro stops.

It's a 1930s building, quiet and well-kept with nice potted plants in the courtyard. There are two key codes to enter, then you walk through the courtyard to the building in the back. The apartment is on the third (French) floor. There is an elevator that goes to the fourth and then you can walk down one flight. I only used the elevator when I first arrived with luggage.

The apartment itself is not a view place at all--it's on the courtyard--and pretty IKEA-cized, but very clean and convenient. There are thin walls to somewhere--I am not sure where, but I never heard anything other than someone moving around in another apartment and this was during daytime hours only.

I think Lucas, the owner, would do well to add a coat rack or hooks. There's room for one in the entry. The closet in the bedroom is not entirely full-length, so in winter someone's long coat might not exactly fit. Otherwise, everything was great. The kitchen looked fairly well-equipped but I did not cook at all.

I would recommend this place as long as someone didn't want view/lots of light. I'll post a few photos of my own later today because the photos on the website actually make it look darker than it is.

<i>Snacky sidenote:</i>
There is a new <b>Gerard Mulot</b> outpost right on the corner. Every morning I went down and picked up a croissant. Well, mostly I indulged in pain au chocolat.

cw Jun 1st, 2009 12:12 PM

Great start to your report--like the snarky sidenote, and I love pain au chocolat in the morning too.

Leely2 Jun 1st, 2009 12:18 PM

Thanks! Here are my apartment photos.

cw Jun 1st, 2009 12:46 PM

The apartment looks nice though I can see what you mean about view. Some people like the quiet of the courtyard but I think I like having a street view. Was there a small balcony in the bedroom?

We tried to rent from Thierry last year but all his apartments were full at the time. It's great to have a computer supplied.

Kyliebaby3 Jun 1st, 2009 12:50 PM

Can't wait to read more!

yk Jun 1st, 2009 01:14 PM

Welcome back, Leely! What's so snarky about pain au chocolat? That's what I have every morning on all my trips to France!

Sue4 Jun 1st, 2009 01:55 PM

Looking forward to the rest! I'll be going to Paris solo in October for 2 weeks, so your report will be fun for me.

Bedar Jun 1st, 2009 02:39 PM

Do get to the decadence...

Apres_Londee Jun 1st, 2009 03:53 PM

Hi Leely!

Looking forward to reading more and living vicariously through your report. The apartment looks great, and I think the courtyard looks very nice with all the plants and flowers. It seems like a very peaceful.

Everyone- it's snacky sidenote, not snarky, LOL

Mariarosa Jun 1st, 2009 04:07 PM

Welcome back Leely! I'm looking forward to your report. Interesting to hear that apartments for May book up that far in advance (mental note to self for the next time we go to Paris, which will probably involve twice as many suitcases and the 2 kids).

MademoiselleFifi Jun 1st, 2009 04:25 PM

Please continue! I desperately need to live vicariously there for eight days too.

TravelRibbon Jun 1st, 2009 04:38 PM

Yay for going solo! More details please! :)


nukesafe Jun 1st, 2009 04:57 PM

The apartment definitely looks better in your pictures. On the web site there is not a single window in evidence. Looks like the inside of a well decorated boxcar.


cynthia_booker Jun 1st, 2009 05:03 PM

Pain au chocolat - on my trip there in early May, I found pre-packaged pain au chocolat in a grocery and brought back a pack in my luggage, cafefully packed in a box the store clerk gave me. I put them in my freezer back at home and now can have one each weekend as a very special treat. Can pretend I am right back in Paris!

Leely2 Jun 1st, 2009 07:42 PM

RE: the apartment and not bright/no street view.

You definitely have to be the kind of person who prefers that. My flat at home is on the corner of our building. Every room has bay windows, high ceilings, wood floors. I live in the middle of the city. There is a bus that runs along my street. Needless to say, my charming and airy (real estate parlance) place is very, very light--even at night. And noisy. On vacation, peace and quiet are very high priorities for me. I want a cozy den not a wall of sound.

Sooosally Jun 2nd, 2009 03:40 AM

Anxiously awaiting the rest of your report. :)

Kristina Jun 2nd, 2009 05:03 AM

Looking forward to more...

thursdaysd Jun 2nd, 2009 05:52 AM

Looking forward to more! I spent a happy four nights solo in Paris in both December and April, interested to hear about your trip.

SharonG Jun 2nd, 2009 06:42 AM

Count me in as anxiously awaiting more details of your trip. I'm seriously contemplating a solo one to Paris myself.

Leely2 Jun 2nd, 2009 07:01 AM

<b>Chow and How</b>
In an effort to circumvent staying in all the time, I decided to plan more meals before leaving home than I normally do. I have a fairly strong interest in food and since France has a strong food culture--why not? After coming up with a long list of possible restaurants, I set my alarm early to call for reservations. Day after day after I turned it off and went back to sleep because I was a little intimidated and a lot lazy.

In the end I contacted a Paris Chowhounder, Julot, and hired him as my professional concierge/guru. While this isn't something I would normally do (for me this was part of the decadent nature of this trip), I have to say I couldn't have been happier with the results. He knew exactly what I wanted and that's what I ended up with: a fairly light but incredibly delicious and diverse dining itinerary.

Schedule was as follows:

Saturday, arrival day: Fodorite GTG at <b>Perraudin</b>

Sunday: lunch at <b>La Grande Cascade</b>

Monday: lunch with my former French tutor in Saint Germain-en-Laye
dinner, <b>Au Bon Accueil</b>

Tuesday: free day!

Wednesday: dinner at <b>Le Chateaubriand</b>

Thursday: free day!

Friday: lunch at <b>Le Cinq</b>

Saturday: dinner at <b>Chez l'Ami Jean</b>; ended up changing this to <b>Le Gaigne</b> for a Fodorite GTG of 5.

Sunday: depart

I will get to the details later for those interested, have to go to work now, but in short these were all excellent restaurants/bistrots. I had zero problems dining solo at any of them. Never cracked a book, never felt uncomfortable, always felt welcomed warmly and thoroughly relaxed. The fine dining meals were beautiful, fantasy experiences, worth every penny and more.

I didn't take photos of my meals because my camera is not very small, but here's my dessert, half-finished, at La Grande Cascade:

And mignardises:

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