Paris is much more than a picturesque backdrop for romance. It is also known as the ‘City of Lights,’ and rest assured that if there’s one place that can nourish the soul of a lone traveler, it’s Paris. If the opportunity to visit France’s fabulous capital arises, take it.
Why venture to Paris alone? Few cities rival Paris’ offerings, and going solo means the trip is entirely in your hands. There won’t be any compromises on what to see or do, nor any splitting of croissants. Navigating Paris independently also leaves room for spontaneity as your inner flâneur (wanderer) emerges. Paris may be the best place in the world to spend time with yourself and indulge in everything from art and wine to morsels of baguette. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Paris is always a good idea.”
Without further adieu, here’s a guide to Paris designed for solo travelers.
Good rest can make or break a trip, and finding the perfect home base is essential when traveling alone. Luckily, Paris has all kinds of accommodation, from luxurious hotels to Airbnb, hostels, and everything in between. With so many options available, it may be helpful to first determine which type of accommodation and arrondissement (neighborhood) best suits you. Since hostels are a great way to save on accommodation and rub shoulders with fellow travelers, here are a few that cover a variety of travel styles:
- Generator Paris: A trendy hostel with its own bar-restaurant and travel desk.
- Les Piaules: Catering to digital nomads, this hostel boasts a rooftop bar perfect for mingling.
- FIAP Jean Monnet: An age 18+ hostel known for organizing events and workshops for its guests.
- St. Christopher’s Inn: While it may be known as a party hostel, it offers a variety of amenities, including live music, free Wi-Fi, and female-only floors.
- HipHopHostels: With several locations, including Le Regent, Le Village (both in Montmartre), and Vintage Paris Gare du Nord, these hostels are well-equipped to meet a solo traveler’s needs.
Getting a Lay of the Land
Getting your bearings can empower solo travelers faced with navigating new cities alone. Start your adventure on the right foot by developing a general understanding of Paris’ layout. Before your trip, research and acquaint yourself with the arrondissements you wish to visit. You might even peruse an offline map during your flight. While you’re at it, get familiar with the Paris Métro system or the Vélib’ Métropole bike rental system for smoother sailing when you arrive.
Once on the ground, you may wish to kickstart your trip with one of the many walking or hop-on, hop-off tours available. Getting acquainted with the city upfront can set solo travelers up for an incredible experience.
Top Things to Do for Solo Travelers in Paris
Get Lost in Enchanting Neighborhoods
Dozens of world-famous landmarks are scattered throughout Paris’ twenty arrondissements. To deepen your Paris experience, venture beyond the tourist attractions and get lost in these vibrant neighborhoods.
- Le Marais: Find hip boutiques, galleries, vintage stores, and graffiti in this trendy neighborhood located in the 4th arrondissement. The Marais (also known as SoMa) is home to the Jewish quarter and world-famous falafel shop L’As du Fallafel. Its narrow cobbled alleyways will give you a sense of Paris before the revolution.
- Canal Saint-Martin: Locals converge on the banks of Canal Saint-Martin to picnic, strum guitars, and sip wine as dusk falls. Hop between the quirky cafés and bars lining the canal, such as Hôtel du Nord and Chez Prune.
- Saint-Germain-des-Prés: Stroll the old stomping grounds of famous artists, writers, and intellectuals like Picasso, Hemingway, and Sartre. These high-profile Parisians frequented the likes of Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, two of the oldest cafés in Paris. Visit the Church of Saint-Sulpice, Luxembourg Gardens, and Deyrolle, the legendary taxidermy boutique.
Browse Antique Books
Books make excellent companions on solo adventures, and if you stroll along the Seine, you’re bound to stumble across antique booksellers that come from a long heritage of riverside bookselling. Those infamous green book stalls were first built in 1859 and contributed to the Seine’s Unesco World Heritage Site status.
Fabulous bookstores are also scattered across Paris, including Librairie Galignani and the infamous Shakespeare and Company. Pop in to browse their worldly book collection or attend one of their events, which never fail to attract exciting people.
According to How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, “a Parisienne always has a good reason to be sitting on a bench.” Although there’s a lot of ground to cover, take time to watch Paris go by. There’s no shortage of pavement cafés or park benches, either.
Bookmark the Tuileries Garden, Luxembourg Gardens, Place des Vosges, and Île de la Cité for a picnic. In a pinch, any stretch of the Seine river bank will also do. Be sure to arrive with some wine, cheese, a baguette, and a good book in tow!
Learn more about the city’s rich literary past in our Literary Guide to Paris.
Explore the Paris Art Scene
Is there a better time to explore your artistic side than on a solo trip to Paris? Museums are perfect places for solo travelers to get lost in another place and time. Whether you’re interested in art, architecture, or fashion—Paris is your playground.
- The Louvre may be one of the most famous museums in the world, but consider the Musée de l’Orangerie next door for a more intimate experience with Claude Monet’s Water Lilies murals.
- The Musée D’Orsay houses the world’s most extensive collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works.
- Modern art lovers must visit the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, housed at Centre Pompidou. Don’t miss the rooftop Brasserie Georges for sunset with sweeping views.
Remember that museums aren’t the only place to observe the arts in Paris. From architecture to street art, the city is an incredible work of art in its own right and free to look at.
Book a Tour or Experience
When exploring a city alone, it can sometimes feel like you are barely scratching the surface. Paris tours and local experiences are a great way to dive deeper and enjoy some friendly company. Some must-see tour destinations and experience ideas include:
- The Paris Catacombs: Exploring the history buried in these underground ossuaries is not for the faint of heart.
- Père Lachaise Cemetery: Pay respects to many of the figures who have made history for France and the world.
- Musée de l’Armée: Discover France’s tumultuous history and visit the tomb of Napoleon.
- Wine tasting: Paris was once crowned as the World Capital of Wine, and no trip is complete without a tasting.
- Cooking classes and French food tours: These are a great way to dive deeper into the culinary aspect of French culture.
- Photoshoot tour: Drop your selfie stick and book a time with a professional photographer who will show you around the city and ensure you leave with a digital souvenir.
Be sure to check out our guide to Unesco World Heritage Sites in France: A Walk Through the Past for the best cultural and historical sites in Paris and beyond.
Follow Your Nose
Paris is full of incredible smells—at least once you’re a safe distance from the metro. Paris is a center for culinary arts, and even the smallest pastries are crafted to perfection. Allow your senses to guide you to bakeries, pastry shops, cafés, and restaurants.
World-famous shops include Poilâne Bakery, Bontemps La Pâtisserie, Angelina, Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, and Chambelland (which also offers gluten-free options).
Don’t be afraid to dine out alone either, as it’s pretty common in Paris’ dining and café culture. There are plenty of establishments with bar seating or outdoor tables perfect for a solo meal.
A handful of the many top-rated restaurants to be enjoyed by solo diners include Les Cocottes, Les Éditeurs, Frenchie bar à vins, Chez Casimir, Le Chardenoux, and Le Terroir Parisien.
Shop Until You Drop
…Or at least until your suitcase is full! More than just a culinary Mecca, Paris is also regarded as the world’s fashion capital. The city is known for influential designers like Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Louboutin. It’s also home to iconic department stores and boutiques worth browsing:
- Le Bon Marché: Step into the oldest department store in Paris, opening its doors since 1852.
- Galeries Lafayette: Whether or not you buy anything, the Art Deco design and Neo-Byzantine dome at the Paris branch of this upscale department store warrants a visit.
- Champs-Élysées: This grand avenue is home to iconic shops like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and more.
- Rue Saint-Honoré and Rue de Rivoli: These are regarded as two of the chicest shopping streets in Paris.
Enjoy the Nightlife
Going to a discotheque alone may be intimidating, but there are plenty of alternatives. Try Septime La Cave, a wine bar to explore unique European biodynamics and natural wines. Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Paris provides some old-world charm. Moonshiner is a speakeasy that attracts locals, expats, and tourists alike.
Alternatively, join a bar crawl to liven up your Paris experience. Many hostels arrange nights out for their guests or offer great suggestions of local bar crawls.
Say Au Revoir
Stroll to the steps of Sacré-Cœur Basilica, where live street music and an iconic view awaits. Whether in the early morning or at sunset, this is a brilliant place to enjoy an expansive view of the city, reflect on your solo adventure, and bid Paris adieu.
A Final Few Pieces of Advice
Equip yourself with basic French. This is especially useful when traveling solo and relying on yourself to get directions or order a cup of coffee. Knowing a little French will also make your time in Paris a little less lonely.
Download an offline map such as maps.me so you can always find your way. It may also be worth taking the time to pin museums, cafés, and restaurants in various neighborhoods for easy reference on the go. The Paris Metro App offers a trip planning feature that helps with navigating the metro system.
Explore social travel apps like Backpackr and Tourlina if you’d like to meet other travelers in Paris.
Research which areas to avoid outright and which to avoid when alone at night. Watch out for common scams, particularly in places highly trafficked by tourists. A little internet research can inform you enough to avoid most trouble.
Go with ideas but don’t overplan. Creating some flexibility in your itinerary leaves room for the unexpected. After all, it’s the City of Love we’re talking about.
Looking for a city break while you’re visiting Paris? These are France’s Rural Towns You Have to Visit.