Paris is for lovers they say, but it’s also for those travelling alone. The city of light and love is the number one destination for couples in love, romantic, thrilling and seductive. But, if you’re alone in Paris all of its considerable charms apply, the pleasures of Paris for solo travellers are plentiful and, you’ll end up being seduced by the city itself.
Andrew James shares his top solo Paris tips…
Paris, more than any city I know, is an ideal place for exploring on your own. So while all the magazines and listings are boasting amazing things to do for couples here are my top four things to do in Paris alone:
1. People-watching in Paris parks
Not like a stalker, mind. There’s such a great diversity in Paris. People of all ages and backgrounds live in the city centre and there are parks aplenty where you can witness the history and the population of the city at the same time. My favourite parks for spending hours walking, thinking and imagining the lives of others are the Tuileries Gardens, the Jardin du Palais Royal and, my newly-discovered favourite (with exceptional views of the entire city), Belleville Park.
2. Eating out
In some places, London for instance, I feel awkward about eating out alone. Often, depending on where you go, it can feel a little strange even to go out for coffee alone. But in Paris that is never a problem. From little old ladies to floppy-haired teens, people eating out by themselves are a regular sight and personally I love it. Somehow it makes the amazing French food taste even more amazing. There’s no distraction between you and the plate of loveliness you’re about to consume and, with my writing hat on, I love observing fellow diners, the wait staff and the passers-by. It is an experience that many people balk at but one, in my opinion, that should never be missed when visiting the City of Light.
Major museums in Paris aren’t free like their counterparts in London. You’re going to have to shell out a little bit to visit the likes of the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay but they are totally worth it. However, those museums are always packed on weekends and at peak times so unless you’re desperate to see a specific piece or the Mona Lisa, I’d maybe try some of the other, less famous museums which boast equally fascinating collections. The Crypte du Parvis du Notre Dame is great and presents the archaeological history of the city, back to the Roman remains of Lutetia. I’d also recommend both the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais by Pont Alexandre III. For those interested in World War 2, the Jean Moulin Museum at Montparnasse is a must-see – it tells the story of the occupation and liberation of Paris. I spent a good four hours here. Of course, the Catacombes de Paris are also amazing (and a definite win for avoiding any schmaltzy romance…).
4. Explore the river
The Seine really is the jewel in Paris’ crown. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Statue of Liberty and many more may never have been constructed if the Seine hadn’t been exploited by the Romans thousands of years ago. Back then the river was a more practical waterway used for fishing, travel and defence. These days the primary activities of the river are leisure and looking beautiful in photographs. Taking a river cruise is a lovely way to see the city, particularly at night and can cost as little as 10€. I’d recommend the Bateaux Mouches for a tour but you could also use the Bato Bus as a way to get around the city.
Over the last few years Paris has really cleaned up the river and made it a more tourist-friendly focal point. The busy roads that used to flank the Seine all the way through the city have been closed, traffic relocated, and the banks have been returned to the flaneurs (walkers). I would definitely suggest a stroll by the river, admiring the architecture of the bridges and enjoying a hot chocolate-y crepe from a concession along the way.
Andrew James is a blogger who writes about things to do in Paris away from the main tourist destinations. He also writes about the history of the city and has a strange fascination with the stories behind French streets named after non-French people. Check out www.andrewjameswriter.com to read more.