Single woman in Paris

Feb 6th, 2006, 12:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 27
Does that mean short skirts will attract unwanted attention? I (along with my friends) wear them all the time in the states without any problem, but everyone seems to be encouraging pretty conservative dress. Might it be different for teenagers who tend to be more liberal anyway?
Mels15 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 02:47 PM
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Behavior and dress isn't the same thing, in this case. I didn't notice anyone urging conservative dress, in particular, for Paris. It may be tasteful dress, or something. How short is short, anyway -- I've seen plenty of short skirts in France, although more so in hotter climates and less cosmopolitan cities. For example, in Provence in summer, short skirts may replace shorts elsewhere.

Some of the worst male harassment I have endured as been in "conservative" countries, and that's because men in those countries may not respect women, and think they can treat them any way they want (also, a woman alone or who travels alone is regarded as loose, or worse, and not worthy of respect).

Social interactions and customs are different from dress codes. I suspect if one wore really short skirts in public, you could attract attention in almost any country, depending on how you looked in them and what else you were wearing with them and the appropriateness of the location. How short is short maybe is the question. Something above the knee is fine, and can be comfortable for summer. Last summer I bought a cute linen miniskirt in Monoprix in France because it was so hot and I saw a lot of women wearing this particular style (which was short of an asympetrical hem. I'm no teenager, either, and this wasn't super-short, just an inch or two above my knees.
Christina is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 03:51 PM
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Is white allowed before summer in Paris?! Are you saying white white, as in pure white?

I can't answer as to the "before summer" part. These purses were in all the new window displays for spring. And, yes, they are white-white...leather. White belts, too. Can white shoes be far behind???
JeanneB is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 04:27 PM
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White has been in for a while now outside the Memorial Day--Labor day time period. Lots of big white leather purses in NYC this winter.
laartista is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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Oh gazooks, does this also mean that we will again start seeing men in leisure suits with matching white belts and shoes?

I hate white shoes on women who are not nurses! They make your feet look like Minnie Mouse's.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 04:43 PM
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SeaUrchin -- YES, those hottie leisure suits must be on the way back...And just like the '70s, they're only going to want ONE THING when talking to a woman.

Oh, I can hardly wait to be called "Babe" again...whether it's in French or English

jules4je7 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 04:56 PM
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Hey Mels, I think teens can get away with wearing the same styles as are worn in the USS, no worries.
amwosu is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 06:43 PM
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Well, now I'm confused! I've never had an uncomfortable encounter in Paris where I thought the guy wanted sex, except when 2 guys off the street boldly tried to hit on me & my sister. All the other times I've struck up conversation in a bar/restaurant/etc. with a guy or vice versa, it was always casual and fun, not flirty. I even became good friends with one Parisan guy--he likes to give me (unsolicited) advice on men and make fun of my love for the movie "Amelie."
MelissaHI is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 08:47 PM
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There's nothing dangerous about interactions with French men, it's just a case of different expectations. They won't attack you or rape you any more than American men will. But they do tend to universally have sex as a motive for interacting with you. That's the way they are raised.

Conversely, French women won't interact with you unless they see you as at least moderately interesting sexually, because they assume that any interaction on their part will be interpreted as a sexual invitation of sorts (since that's how French men interpret it). Sometimes it's a bit of a vicious circle.

You need not dress conservatively. In fact, French women tend to dress in a much more feminine way than American women, especially in business environments. This is in keeping with the more liberal attitude towards sex and the stronger gender stereotypes of the society. Dressing in a pretty way will not get you into trouble, although it might get you more attention (wanted or unwanted).

Let me emphasize that it's not a question of danger or safety here, it's just a question of knowing that you may misunderstand or be misunderstood when dealing with the locals in social situations. You're not at any personal risk, and none of this will likely interfere with you having fun, unless you spend the entire time in Paris cruising bars and talking to strangers of the opposite sex.

There's one other consideration, too: in most countries, the locals consider foreign women to be relatively "easy" compared to local women—whether they actually are or not. So foreigners might be more hit upon than locals. That's true anywhere, not just in France, but it's worth keeping in mind. If you enjoy one-night stands, this can be seen as an advantage.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 01:38 AM
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Lulu, you can always tell from a postcode roughly where an address in France is: the first two digits= the département (in this case, 75=Ville de Paris), and for Paris 020=20th arrondissement. shows the nearest metro stations to Le Vieux Belleville as Pyrénées and Jourdain on line 11.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 02:27 AM
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SeaUrchin..Minnie Mouse does not wear white shoes! They are yellow FYI
daisy58 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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I actually saw some cute white sandals (low-heeled, designed for walking)and I wondered about buying them for walking around Paris. But I'll be there in early-mid May and I didn't know if most women would be veering more towards spring and summer palettes and styles then or still keep to darker neutral colors.

Christina, how is the quality of clothes from Monoprix? Are they more Target-quality clothing or more Wal-mart quality?
luluredux is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 10:15 AM
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Monoprix are closer to Target than Wal-Mart in both style and quality, IMO.

Another great place for not-too-expensive last minute purchases is Etam.
Therese is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 08:59 AM
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Hi. I hope I'm not too late to add to this thread, but reading your post, luluredux, persuaded me to register and write here for the first time. Specifically, what you wrote about having no trouble keeping busy during the day but not wanting to sit in your hotel at night - that's exactly what I said last August when I went to Paris for a few days. (Also, oddly enough, what you said about greeting peoples' dogs. That's me too!) I searched and searched and came up with a couple of great ideas to fill at least two evenings that I'd like to share. Check out This adorable and knowledgeable young man hosts wine tastings in his chic, simple loft for tourists. When I went, there were Americans, Brits, South Africans, Asians and myself (the lone Canuck). Especially after a few glasses, everyone was chatting and joking like old friends. An even better experience was an evening at the "salon" of Patricia Laplante-Collins, mail: [email protected] , at her apartment on the Ile de la cité. Every Friday and Sunday evening, (and I think Wednesday, maybe too) a big group of almost entirely English-speaking ex-pats gathers for wine, nibbles and a buffet dinner by Patricia with a speaker and lots and lots of chatting. And best of all (in my not always humble opinion) these are no kids. They're all people in their early 30s and up. Many entrepreneurs and real characters. And though, as I said, almost all English speaking, they really are a slice of "real" Paris, in their own way. Anyone is welcome, just call ahead to reserve and take along 20 euros to pay for vast quantities of cheap wine and your share of dinner. If you'd like to know any more, drop me a line at nancy.clark @ (Note, don't leave the spaces I did. That's just to foil the spam trawlers.)
jonesrabbit is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 10:10 AM
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For jazz in Paris try:

Le Petit Journal 71, boulevard Saint-Michel in the 5th.

Check the website at:
Rillifane is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 11:05 AM
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You don't sound like you give off a hyper-flirtatious vibe which might be the biggest factor.

I think I was a bit too restrained when I was in Paris by myself -- I was frequently offered assistance with my bag at the Metro when I was going up the steps, lugging up my large suitcase. Three separate times, professionally dressed men in their late 20s and 30s (same as my age) on their way to work offered help and I always smiled and said thank you but it's not necessary, (in french) and kept lugging up my stuff. In retrospect, these quick responses of mine (not wanting to be a bother, etc) were unnecessary. Everyone I met was very gracious and helpful and these were clearly not sexually aggressive encounters but seemed like automatic polite responses to seeing a young woman hauling a suitcase half her body-weight. In some ways, I think I was oddly stand-offish if that makes any sense. I should have just let them help me and gotten myself out of the way for everyone else around me. I have no doubt these guys would have been quickly on their way to work.

I couldn't help but make exclamations (in french) about the dogs at which point most Parisians I met would smile very proudly and pause to let me further admire. I don't like babies as much as dogs so can't say anything here. On the way home from dinner I'd stop in at a jazz club and once a bar (although the travel/jet lag was exhausting and I had to absolutely force myself to stay out past 10 pm on pure principle). Don't know the names of the jazz clubs but they were in my guidebook, I would just head towards whatever I happened to be closest to. On another night, I brought my stuff to a cafe while eating dessert while I planned out my next day -- I generally avoided eye-contact with younger men who I didn't want to deal with. I actually found that talking with the older guys (white hair, late 50's +) was the easiest -- they were friendly, harmlessly flirtatious and complimentary in sort of a grandfatherly way, no threat of any sort.

In terms of clothing, I found the discourse about the level of everyday fashion in Paris and Milan to be a bit hyped-up although I was there in Winter. When I was in Milan, I felt like my friend and I were generally more dressed-up than most people on the metro, and this was definitely the case in Florence where the level of dress was incredibly casual, esp during the daytime. People only appear to be very fashionably dressed if one is using sweatsuits and tennis shoes as a fashion standard. The questions you're asking indicate that you generally dress well and don't go out in public in your pajamas. I also noticed sheer fabrics and feminine cuts in the windows for Spring. If it's going to be warm, nothing is more comfortable and easy to dress up or down than an a-line skirt in raw silk. Finally, I saw so many single women travelers in Paris while I was there that I felt like we constituted our own genre. In other words, you won't stand out in the slightest excepts perhaps in some very upscale restaurants which I was forced to avoid due to my budget.
fishee is offline  
May 1st, 2006, 09:19 PM
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Jonesrabbit and fishee, thank you so much for your information! I'll be heading off to Paris in a week and I'm glad I checked back on this old thread. Those two options Jonesrabbit suggested sound really appealing and intriguing. And Fishee, your post was really helpful; you got me re: the vibe and clothing.
luluredux is offline  
Jun 8th, 2006, 06:27 PM
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Wonder how the trip went?
starrsville is offline  
Jun 8th, 2006, 07:11 PM
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Yes, I wonder how she made out, too. I just returned from a 4-day visit as a single (but older) woman, and had a great time. Came acros one crabby Parisian man in a museum, but otherwise everyone was friendly and helpful.
travlsolo2 is offline  

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