5 Things to do When Traveling to Paris Alone or How to Conquer Solo Female Travel in Paris
January 28, 2017
What to do when Traveling to Paris Alone or How to Rock Solo Female Travel in Paris, the Romance Capital of the World.
Traveling to Paris alone and conquering solo female in Paris are two things that don’t match the mystique that surrounds this enchanting city. To me, Paris, France has a reputation for being one of the world’s most iconically romantic cities. A stereotype that has only been accentuated by such cartoon icons as my good old friend Pepe LePue, who was a lover and a skunk with a distinctly French accent. Coincidence? I think not.
So it should come as no surprise that when I hear the word “Paris,” images of couples holding hands and smoking cigarettes along the Seine, mystically dance through my head. Or even worse, my mind conjures up thoughts of the love lock tradition. You know, the one where a couple buys a lock, fastens it on a bridge, and then throws the lock in the Seine, so that their love will last forever? Yeah super cute, if I could just find my knight in shining armor and wasn’t doing solo travel Paris style. Dude, did you get lost? Use your GPS to find me.
But alas, I have not found my prince who is probably not so charming. That’s why all this love and romance talk, while exploring Paris alone, had me a little bummed while I was in Paris. I mean, I may or may not have been sobbing into my banana nutella crepe as I embarked on my solo trip to Paris. See, sometimes traveling the world alone ain’t so grand.
Okay, in fairness it wasn’t that bad but I did get a little lonely and kind of like, “Where the hell is my soulmate? If you could beem him down now that’d be stellar.”
But as my time in Paris wore on, I started to realize that I can enjoy solo female travel in Paris. Heck, I even begin to love traveling to Paris alone, and it wasn’t because I was trolling along the locks of love bridge, looking for Mr. Right Now.
Instead, I started to look at Paris as my partner in crime. I mean, this is an iconic city that is full of beauty, history, and an intriguing amount of charm. With all that Paris has to offer, I was swept away by the intangible magic of this city and the plethora of sites that won’t make you run for the hills, screaming, “Make all the overtly romantic gestures stop and enough with all the PDA. For the love of God, can someone please play all the single ladies, stat.”
Now, baring this in mind, certain big name sites will not be featured on this list (It’s okay. Here’s a virtual hanky for those tears), like the Eiffel Tower. For all those awesome, and potentially budget friendly Paris sites, click on that link that I just snuck right in there. I know, super smooth, like butter.
Plus I mean sure, the Eiffel Tower is amazing and obviously you NEED to see it when you’re in Paris because if you go to Paris and don’t see the Eiffel Tower, did you really even go to Paris? Yeah, my point exactly. But, let’s keep it real, this site is not exactly the most awesome when you’re going to Paris alone. I mean I went and saw all the couples kissing and taking photos and I kind of wanted to gag with jealousy. Or how about when someone proposes and you kind of wanna be like, “Really cupid? Did you crap love arrows all over the Eiffel Tower because I am kind of done with this?” And mind you, I am super happy for these couples, but I also kind of wish it was me.
Well, that’s why I created this list of sites that won’t force you to binge watch romantic comedies on Netflix, while sobbing into a gallon jug of ice cream, 2 boxes of chocolate, and an assortment of fresh, gourmet french pastries and macarons (hey, if you’re gonna eat your feelings then you gotta do it right). These are the sites that don’t suck while you’re alone in Paris. Actually, these places are even better when you’re visiting Paris alone because Paris itself is the only significant other that you really need. And before you think it, yes there are a lot more than 5 things to do alone in Paris, but I didn’t want to make this post the length of War and Peace. That would get pretty boring. So here’s my abbreviated list that will save you both time and severe eye strain.
1. The Catacombs
Want to meet solo travelers in Paris, then head to the Catacombs of course. Okay, it’s actually not some sort of hub for solo travelers but I honestly can’t think of anything LESS romantic than walking through a series of cavernous, underground tunnels, studded with human skulls, and various other human remains. And to the creepy ambiance, the tunnels are dank, damp, lined with stone, and echo with the slow drip of water. Talk about uber scary. It kind of feels like you are in a horror movie and the serial killer is just wanting to jump out at you while you are innocently listening to your audioguide (insert creepy yet suspenseful horror music here). But trust me, this place makes this city rock for a lot of single women in Paris.
Now in case you don’t know what the catacombs are (I only know because I only watch super creepy shows about murder and mayhem like Unsolved Mysteries, Law and Order, and the entire Investigation Discovery channel), they are a series of tunnels and quarries that were used to house human remains from the Cemetery of the Innocents when the Cemetery became a source of infection for local residents in 1785 (Nowadays you can just dial a doctor and get a prescription that you saw on TV, at least in the US. Side effects include heart disease, pulmonary edema, coronary blockages, constipation, and oh yeah, death! I bet you want bucketfuls of this drug now).
To address the issue, the Council of State decided to prohibit further use of the Cemetery and instead, had the brilliant idea of housing these remains in the disused quarries that later became known as the Catacombs (These queries were chosen because they were recently inspected and found to be in good condition).
But the bottom line is that the Catacombs are super fun and interesting. Just make sure that you get the audioguide because some of the information placards are easily overlooked in the dark and cavernous tunnels. Also keep an eye out for the skulls and bones that align the walls and add just the right amount of creep factor to your visit. Oh and don’t worry about getting lost, or maybe I was the only one who worried about that. I thought it would be a total maze down there and that I would get completely lost, never come out, and get eaten alive by rats. But nope, they have awesome signage and lighting that will always lead you in the right direction. Also be aware that you do have to climb a significant number of stairs to go down into and come up from the Catacombs, which can be kind of brutal on your knees. So have that Bengay ready and you’ll be good to go. Trust me though, the spookiness of it all will make you totally forget that you are touring Paris alone.
Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
Getting There: To get there, you can take either Métro et RER B : Denfert-Rochereau or Bus 38 or 68. I took the metro when I went and the station is a little outside the city so it takes about 30 minutes to get there from Central Paris.
Hours: The catacombs are open Tuesday – Sunday, from 10:00 am – 8:30 pm (final admission is at 7:30 pm).
Admission: General admission tickets are 13 € and concession tickets are 11 €. Coupled tickets are 17 € for general admission and 14 € for concession. Audioguides are an additional 5 € but totally worth it since tours are kind of infrequent. Plus, with the audioguide, you can move at your own pace while learning something neat about the catacombs themselves.
***The catacombs are on the way to the airport so you can explore them before you head home. They also only took me an hour and half to go through so a good half day trip.
***Once you get off the metro, the catacombs are right there and not hard to find at all (there’s ample signage so even I didn’t get lost). Now, I went in August and got there around 11:00 am and the line was insanely long (it me took over 2 hours to get in). Therefore, I would try and go later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. But if you have to go early, bring a hat and sunscreen because there is nothing to shade you while you wait. You can also shorten your wait by purchasing tickets online.
Père Lachaise Cemetery is seriously one of the best places for females to travel alone in the whole city. Now I know it may seem like I have some sort of weird death fetish, but I really don’t. I love brie and baguettes too! Bring forth the cheese! No, I am not some death obsessed weirdo who drinks blood. I just genuinely love this cemetery because it is a beautiful place to take a walk and marvel at all the famous, unique, and ornate gravestones that can be found here. Plus, since it’s a cemetery, you don’t feel this compelling need to hold anyone’s hand.
I also love that this enormous space somehow gives you a quaint feel with a series of cobbled paths that line an avenue of intricately carved gravestones. Hopefully it doesn’t sound too depressing because I assure you, this cemetery is quite picturesque.
The cemetery is also quite large, like I just sad, and at 110 acres, it is actually the largest cemetery in Paris. That’s why it feels like this place has about 101 different entrances. I suggest accessing the cemetery through the main entrance on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant since this is where the cemetery office is. Here you can find such essentials as bathrooms, maps, and even guided tours (I am a rebel and preferred to discover the intricacies of the cemetery on my own.Lol).
Now I cannot emphasize this enough, use the restrooms before you enter the cemetery because there is literally no where else to use the bathroom. Trust me, you don’t want to end up like me, ducking and diving behind a bush and a gravestone as copious amounts of tourists filter through the cobbled paths. Talk about awkward to the extreme. But when mother nature calls you heed the call.
Also make sure you grab a free map from the administration building since this cemetery is easy to get lost in. Plus, added bonus, all of the most famous graves in the cemetery are labeled on this map. So this means that you can have your own little cemetery style scavenger hunt and find the final resting place of celebrities such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, etc.
I have to say, trying to find all the famous graves on the map turned out to be a ton fun, and I didn’t think it would be. I thought it would be a real drag and totally frustrating but actually, it all felt like one giant treasure hunt.
But the best part was when I actually found a grave I was looking for. Not gonna lie, I felt really proud of myself, kind of like I had just found the cure for cancer. Just kidding, not that proud of myself but finding these graves was pretty gratifying. Because some of the graves are super hard to find, I would plan on spending between two and three hours here. I know, it seems like an eternity (pun intended) but I swear you won’t be bored to death (Pun intended again. I like to live on the wild side. LoL) of this place.
Address: 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France
Getting There: Take metro line 2 and get off at the Philippe-Auguste station. This station is closest to the main entrance on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant.
Hours: In the Winter (November 6-March 15), the cemetery is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, Saturday from 8:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday/holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Access ends 15 minutes before closing time.)
In the Summer (March 15-November 5), the museum is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday and holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Access ends 15 minutes before closing time.
And cemetery employees will actually escort you out when it’s time to leave. And they are no joke. They will literally herd you out of the cemetery)
Admission: Free, my favorite word.
***Be sure to visit the grave of Victor Noir who was a journalist who famously died in a duel. Since then, his statue has since become something of a fertility symbol. Due to the naturalistic style of the sculpture, there is a rather prominent fold in Noir’s trousers. It is said that by rubbing this area and leaving a flower in Noir’s hat, a woman is guaranteed a husband within the year.
Another site that is high on my Paris for single travelers list (or any Paris bucket list really) is Sainte-Chapelle. I love it here because I just sit and admire the insanely gorgeous, awe inspiring assortment of stained glass housed here. I just close my eyes and let my soul absorb the peace and serenity that has inhabited these hallow walls for hundreds of years.
Now to be honest, I had never even heard of this place before I visited Paris. The only cathedral I actually associated with Paris, like everyone else on the planet, was Notre Dame. And when you’re in Paris, it’s kind of mandatory that you visit this immortal site. I mean it has a Disney movie named after it so clearly it is something special, right (Wait, there was a book first by Victor Hugo? No way! I thought the Disney movie came out first. And I am totally joking. I swear I don’t get all my information from Disney movies, just 99% of it. LoL)?
Well, I am no architectural expert, so I offer only my humble opinion as a wide-eyed, camera wielding, open mouthed tourist, but I enjoyed Sainte-Chapelle a lot more than Notre Dame. Okay, phew, I said it. Just had to get that secret shame off my chest, please don’t hate me (I’ll bribe you with cookies or a puppy or a unicorn).
I mean it’s not like I have anything against medieval Gothic architecture, for which Notre Dame Cathedral is world renowned. Actually, Sainte-Chapelle is also done in Gothic style so clearly I have nothing against that architectural type. I’m just a total sucker for stained glass. And in Sainte-Chappelle, when the sun hits the enormous and amazingly intricate stained glass windows, the entire building sparkles. Rainbows burst to life right before your eyes and you don’t know where to turn because there is simply too much beauty to behold. It honestly feels like the walls have been adorned with exotic gem stones that continually pulsate with color.
Plus, if the name of your vacation should be, “True life, traveling to Paris Alone Female,” then definitely check out Sainte-Chapelle. While here you are so captivated by the beauty all around you, that you can’t even contemplate talking to anyone. You’re just too caught up in reading the biblical tales depicted in these stained glass masterpieces (Or you just like looking at something pretty. Whatever works) to notice anything else.
Okay so now for some mildly interesting, or sleep inducing, historical facts about this building, which is ensconced in the Palais de Justice (one of the city’s most badass monuments). Believe or not (but believe it because I don’t lie) this chapel actually houses a variety of statues, foliage-decorated capitals, and angels, that you hardly notice because you’re too busy marveling at the 1113 scenes depicted in the 15, floor to ceiling stained glass windows. Yup, the stained glass here is THAT big of a deal.
Address: 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France
Getting There: To get to Sainte-Chapelle, take Line 4 to the Cite stop. Once there, walk across the Seine, to the islands. Sainte-Chappelle is located there, about two blocks west of Notre Dame.
Hours: (Final Admission is always 30 minutes before closing) From January 2 – March 31 the church is open everyday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. From April 1 – September 30 the church is open everyday from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm. From October 1 – December 31 the church is open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Admission: General admission costs € 10 while reduced admission costs 8€. But I would purchase a combined ticket with the Conciergerie for €15.
***Go early in the day to avoid the crowds. After you’re done, be sure to treat yourself to some Berthillon, a sumptuous, french ice-cream. The best Berthillon in Paris is found on the island so be sure to get some while you’re here.
***The entrance is on the ground floor but be sure to ascend the somewhat hidden spiral staircase to the upper level, where only the king and his court were once allowed so basically you should feel like a boss.
The d’Orsay was hands down my favorite museum in Paris (The Louvre was too big for me and I like impressionist art better than renaissance art. Please don’t hate me because I still loved the Louver too). Not only is the museum housed in an exquisite railway station that was designed in the art-nouveau style, by Victor Laloux, but the paintings themselves literally take your breath away. No joke, I had to actively tell myself to breathe. Where’s an iron lung when you need one?
I was so in awe of the raw emotion that these paintings evoke, that I forgot to take pictures half the time. LoL. Clearly I had no problem being alone because if someone was there, I probably would have ignored them; the art is THAT captivating (One of the best solo trips for females).
But it’s easy to be awe struck and gobsmacked when you’re in the presence of works by such masters as Van Gogh, Monet, and Degas. FYI, this list doesn’t even account for the vast amount of refined sculptures that decorate the ground floor. To say this place is a feast for your eyes is the understatement of the century.
To be honest, I am no art expert, but this museum inspired me so much that I bought a book on impressionism (And yes, I haven’t opened the book once. But the point is that I never buy art books so this place is that good). The museum also has a great cafe with great food and chic decor. The room has tall ceilings, with large windows that allow the sunlight to envelope the topiary beneath. The food is also good too. I had cheese, cheese, baguette, and more cheese. LoL. All in all, a charming place to refuel yourself before you trek through the rest of the museum.
Now while the museum is large, it is not overbearingly so. Therefore, you can see the three floors of the museum in a day, depending on how leisurely you stroll through the artwork. But, I would get there early since the museum does get pretty crowded, especially on Tuesdays and Sundays.
Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
Getting There: You can take either Line 12 to the Solferino station or the RER C to the Musee d’Orsay station.
Hours: The museum is open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, with extended hours until 9:45 pm on Thursdays.
Admission: (Free first Sunday of every month) General admission is €12 and reduced admission is €9 for 18-25, Thursday after 6 pm and any other day after 4:30 pm.
***To save time, buy your tickets online. Also save money and get a combined ticket with the Musee Rodin for €15. Just make sure you visit both museums in the same day.
5. Walk Along the Seine (One of the many great things to do alone in Paris and a great budget Paris travel option)
The amazing culture and rich history of Paris, make it an enchanting city to explore on foot. For me, walking is how you see, feel, taste, touch, and smell the heart of a city; you simply just walk right through it. You can also stop, relax on a bench, and watch the people walk by. You absorb their persona and sense their way of life. You could also grab a cold drink, a baguette, and some brie and that wouldn’t hurt the situation either.
That is why you NEED to walk along the Seine. You just have to do it. Yup, its mandatory if you come to Paris. Okay, it’s really not but if you don’t marvel at the Seine then you’ll be really missing out. Because if the people are the soul of Paris, then the Seine is the body that they rely on to breath. This river is an intricate part of Parisian culture, both in the past and today, and helps define who Parisians are and how they spend their time.
Simply stroll along the boulevard, by the river, and watch as the people eat cheese and drink wine along the shore (there’s a fair bit of canoodling and cigarette smoking too). Friends will laugh and rip open nice, crusty pieces of baguette. Also make sure that you stop and get massage in a chair right that sits right by the river. So relaxing and only €10.
After your massage, meander along the shore and watch the boats cruise by. As you explore the endless river, take in the French way of life that unfolds right before your eyes. Shops, restaurants, and even beach chairs with beach umbrellas, litter
the shore and make the river a truly exciting and vivacious place to be ( these chairs are accompanied by sand, which makes it feel more like a beach and less like a river). Whatever you do, just let the Seine wash over you and capture your heart.
Where to Travel as a Single Woman? Paris!
So there you have it, everything you need to make Paris one of the best European cities for solo female travelers. Okay, maybe you don’t have everything you need on this list, but if you did then I’d have to write a book. But this list should help to survive and maybe even thrive as a solo traveler in the romance capital of the world. And if all this sightseeing makes you a little hungry, and we all know it will, then click here to learn about some of the foods that you must try while in Paris, France.
***Ready to book your trip to Paris, France? Then click below to book some of the best hotels in town.
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