Paris: Solo travel advice needed!!

Old Feb 19th, 2013, 03:32 PM
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Paris: Solo travel advice needed!!

Hi,

I have a few questions about traveling solo to Paris (will stay one week). This will be my first time in Europe (I'm late 20's male). My concern is whether to stay in a hostel or a hotel. Here's my dilemma, I would like to have people around me to talk to and have a drink with later in the day (as I'm sure my days will be full) and I can see that being a problem since I don't speak French....is it easy to chat with people in Paris restaurants/bars? I'd like to meet people that are a little more mature - I'm done with drinking to excess every night (I've seen this in hostel's before....and I was one of those people drinking to excess )

If I opted for a hotel room - would it be easy to meet people? Are there places in the city where you can strike up a conversation??

Thanks!
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 05:13 PM
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First its not just young people who stay in hostels, I think different hostels have different flavors so to speak. You could elect to just not stay in any that list themselves as youth hostels and just go for the ones that take all ages.

I have stayed solo in Paris a few times, and the reality is,no, you won't meet many people staying in a hotel. Locals rarely start of sincere friendships with passing through tourists, the waiter may be friendly, the man at the bus stop may chat briefly with you, but will they go out for drinks with you, not likely.

I have met people through forums though, and on some forums you can actually find others travelling same time as you and arrange to meet for drinks or sightseeing. Rick Steves has such a forum, you go on the "Helpline" and click on "travel partners".. you do not have to travel with people , some people just ask if anyone is in same town at same time and want to meet.

A hostel does provide more opportunity to meet and chat with folks .
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 06:28 PM
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Regardless of where you stay, you could choose a couple of group activities to get to meet people along the way. For example, if you like wine (but don't necessarily know much about it), try the tasting sessions each evening at O Chateau. Friends did the "Tour de France" tasting last year, and had a ball. They said it was a wide cross section of ages, from all over the place.
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 08:38 PM
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You might meet similarly inclined people on walking tours. Paris Walks, for example, but that is certainly not the only one.
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 09:07 PM
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Take a look at Jim Haynes' website and go to dinner at his place. There's always a crowd of very nice people. http://www.jim-haynes.com/index.htm
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 07:26 AM
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Paris doesn't have the sort of pub culture that you find in London, but there are certainly ersatz Irish pubs where you can hang out and find English-speakers. I know of a couple of sports bars which carry some North American games (time difference is a factor). And a sure conversation-starter with non-North-American English speakers is international soccer scores.
Here are a couple of sports bar, both supposedly Canadian and both in the 6th:
http://www.tgcparis.com/en/index.html
http://www.mooseparis.com/index.php
For Australians: http://www.cafe-oz.com/
For British: http://www.frogpubs.com/index.php This is a chain of five microbrew gastropubs. The beers are interesting. Sorry about the deplorable name.

The other solace is to carry some sort of connection to the Internet, whether smartphone or netbook or whatever, so you can feel connected and put in time surfing and e-mailing. Just like being alone back home.
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 07:53 AM
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I was going to say exactly what Cynthia said about tours. You might (or might not) meet people doing that who'd be up for more social things later. I've taken one with Oui Paris (ouiparistours.com) and a couple with Paris Walks (paris-walks.com), and would recommend them all. Fat Tire has some bike tours as well, but I haven't tried those.
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 08:39 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions! These are great. I really like the suggestion about Paris walks (since I love to wander) and I plan to give that one a try. Unfortunately I won't be in town on a Sunday, so I'll miss dinner with Jim Haynes. It's good to know where the some english-speaking bars are in case I go crazy....although I will try my best to meet some locals as well.....hopefully some girls too!

The 5th and 6th seem to really come alive at night - would that be a good place to stay? I'd prefer to stay close to home-base at night.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 09:36 AM
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Other than sports bars, are there any places where you sit at the bar and chit-chat with people? Is Paris fairly social?
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 09:55 AM
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The "problem" is not speaking French. Of course people at bars talk to each other in Paris, but mostly that's going to be in French or else you'll be talking with other tourists. For meeting local girls, you're going to have to hope they are bilingual.

Yes the 5th or the 6th (or the 4th) is where I'd choose to stay.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 09:57 AM
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you might also check out the Republique (Republic??) and the Marais for night life, good value for your money there too, unless of course .. money is no object! I'd like money to be of no object... sigh.

I agree in my trips to Paris, solo, people are polite but not chatty, not like inthe US. Where, truth be told, sometimes people chat me up when I wish they wouldn't. And that is one reason I like the French.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 10:16 AM
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My experience (which is my experience only) is that I was generally ignored as a solo traveler in Paris, with the obvious exceptions of customer service employees and that sort of thing. I'm from the South and it was pretty much the polar opposite of the general friendliness I'm used to. However, I wasn't hanging out at bars or actively trying to socialize with Parisians, so your experience may not match mine.

I stayed off Boulevard Saint-Michel and it was pretty lively at night, so one more vote for the 5th/6th.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 10:43 AM
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I like to travel solo, but I'm not trying to meet people. I just do things on my own and have a great time.

I think organized activities will more likely put you in conversation with others (but tourists not locals) like doing a cooking class, bike tour, whatever.

To be more around locals, check an events/entertainment calendar and see if you can find anything special going on. Not specific to Paris, but I've managed to go to various parades, street markets, town festivals, art walks, fireman fundraising BBQ, school pagent, even the movies, where you're more likely to be with locals.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 11:28 AM
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kidbiztgo,
I think you should go and have a good time and enjoy whoever you can chat up, but I don't know if you get what I am saying, the french are different culturally , they don't just make friends so casually. You can literally work with someone for months before you will start addressing each other by the less formal "tu" instead of "vous" and in some cases it may never happen. lol There are always exceptions of course, and of course service personal may chat with you, but the French do not smile and say hello to strangers on the street ( it would be percievced as odd behaviour) like we do where I live. I just want you to be clear on this so that you don't get hurt feelings, or think they are being mean or cold to you, French culture is just a tad more reserved.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 11:31 AM
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The French are not known for socializing with strangers, even their own neighbors. It would be sensible, I think, to concentrate on gatherings for anything that interests you attended by travelers and expats. Like local group tours and other suggestions above.

Use Google for activities for expats in English, like this:
http://www.meetup.com/paris-new-in-town/
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 12:40 PM
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Another way is to try to make a connection with a local person or group in advance online. You might check the Trip Advisor Paris forums to see if there are any meet & greets going on.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 01:22 PM
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Or join Hospitality Club and stay with someone local, free:

www.hospitalityclub.org.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for the great advice everyone! Much appreciated. I'll try to make the best of it - if things don't pan out with locals I'll hit up the Canadian and British pubs!! Glad to know I have options! There looks like lot's of meet-ups and social events to participate in as well. Should be fun!! Can't wait!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:54 AM
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Want to connect with people; try a class. You may not be interested in cooking, but take a market class anyway for an interesting perspective on Parisian life. Plus you get to eat what you make! Take a bike tour. Get a hair cut. Do the things that locals do to connect with locals.
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