Planning a solo trip to Paris? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital of France and its largest city, with a population of about 2.15 million.
- The most popular tourist destination in the world, attracting 76 million visitors per year.
- Known as one of the most livable cities in the world, with its unique and romantic charm.
- Artists that worked and lived in Paris include: Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.
- Nicknames: La Ville-Lumière (“The City of Light”), Paname, The City of Love.
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: French.
- Best time to visit: from March to November. Paris has a mild, moderately wet climate.
- Arriving via airport: from Charles de Gaulle Airport, you can take a free shuttle to Roissy rail station, from where you can take the RER trains to any major metro station in the city (10.30 EUR, trip duration 35-40 minutes).
- Alternatively, buses to the city depart every 15 minutes and cost between 6.00 and 11.50 EUR. Trip duration: 80 minutes.
- A taxi ride to the city will cost between 55-60 EUR (depending on your destination).
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: St. Christopher’s (Gare du Nord). Just 2 minutes from Gare du Nord train station, this is a social hostel with an on-site bar and frequent parties – a great place to meet other travelers. Clean rooms and facilities, with friendly staff. Book ahead!
- For a more low key hostel in the trendy district of Montmartre, check out Caulaincourt Montmartre.
- Although the best hotels and apartments in Paris are located right in the city center, on the banks of the river Seine or close to the Champs-Elysees, these are also the most expensive and usually crowded.
- Budget minded travelers should try to find cheaper hotels in Montparnasse, around Place de la Nation or Gare du Nord.
- Tip: try to find accommodation close to a metro station.
- Paris has a very developed and extensive transportation system, with subway, buses and RER trains. The subway (metro), with 14 lines and around 300 stations, is by far the quickest and easiest way to see the city’s top attractions. The buses are also a good option, but these can get crowded and it is harder to figure out the routes. RER suburban trains are useful for longer distances (e.g. to the airport).
- A single ride (on subway or bus) within the city costs €1.90. Save money by buying a 1 day pass (unlimited travel for €5.80).
- Need a taxi? Use the G7 Taxi App to call one (usually cheaper than Uber).
- Renting a car: unless you absolutely have to, do not drive in Paris. Parking spaces are very limited, and congested roads will end up wasting a lot of your time.
- Drinking age is 18, last call is 2 AM for bars (many night clubs stay open until dawn).
- Note: Paris has some of the most vibrant and eccentric nightlife in the world, with countless clubs, discos and pubs.
- Hip/local scene: Marais, Bastille, Montmartre, Pigalle.
- Trendy scene: Trocadero, Champs Elysees, Palais Royal.
- Cool bars to check out: Lavomatic (speakeasy behind a laundromat), Moonshiner ($$$), Lulu White Drinking Club (cozy cocktails), The Green Linnet (Irish pub), and Patrick’s – Le Ballon Vert.
- Want live music? Head to Supersonic or Olympic Café.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Eiffel Tower, is the symbol of the city and one of the best known monuments in the world, standing tall at 324 meters since 1889. Make sure to go up tower, as the panorama over the city is magnificent. From the Eiffel Tower, take a walk in the Parc du Champ de Mars – visit the Chaillot Palace and admire the Ecole Militaire.
- The Ile de la Cite is one of the two islands of the Seine inside Paris, and houses some of the city’s best landmarks. Build over 800 years ago, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is a masterpiece of gothic architecture and one of the country’s treasures.
[Update: due to a catastrophic construction site fire in April 2019, the Notre Dame is currently closed].
- Close to the cathedral, you can also visit the Conciergerie, Hotel Dieu, as well as the little island of St. Louis.
- The Louvre and Orsay museums contain some of the most beautiful masterpieces in the world. Other attractions nearby: Tuileries Gardens, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Palais Elysees, Ecole National de Beaux-Arts, Hotel de Ville, Palais Royal, and Centre Georges Pompidou (my personal favourite).
- The Champs Elysees is perhaps the most famous boulevard in the world, stretching from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. With its wide sidewalks and upscale fashion shops, the street will captivate both shoppers and window-shoppers alike.
- Located to the north, the Montmartre neighborhood is the more romantic part of Paris, with plenty of museums, art galleries and shops. Standing guard over this area is the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, one of the most beautiful churches in France.
- Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Paris will continue to surprise you with its cornucopia of churches, parks, fountains, monuments and museums. Other notable landmarks in the city include: Opera Garnier, Luxembourg Palace, La Defense, Moulin Rouge, and Bastille.
- A stroll through Paris: starting from the Eiffel Tower, cross the Seine, continue through the Chaillot Palace up to the Arc de Triomphe. Continue on the Champs Elysees until you reach the Louvre Museum.
- Walk around the two small islands: Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis.
- Walk around the Montmartre quarter of Paris, discovering little known corners of the city.
- Take a trip to the Versailles Palace and take a walk along its parks and grounds.
- If you can stomach it, visit the Catacombs of Paris (a mass graveyard of a nameless six million people). Wear appropriate shoes, and be prepared for a long underground walk.
- A great way to take in the city is to take a cruise on the Seine. Evening cruises are especially captivating (and romantic), as you can see the city lights being turned on.
- Paris is the world capital of fashion. Even if you’re just visiting, it’s a good idea to look your best.
- While Paris is full of coffee shops, it’s hard to find a place without hordes of tourists. For a relaxing atmosphere, head over to a cafe in the side streets closer to Abbesses (metro).
- The French are very proud of their heritage and language. Even if you don’t speak any French, try to learn a few key phrases before you arrive. The locals will appreciate your efforts. Try to impose your own language and culture on the locals, and you will experience the infamous Parisian snobbery.
- Don’t miss this chance to try some traditional French food. Look for small restaurants and cafes around the city, and don’t forget to sample some of the country’s wine!
- Great restaurants for solo travelers: Restaurant Le Hangar ($$$), Au bon accueil ($$), Le Colimaçon (modern French bistro), Soya (vegan), Ayutthaya (Thai), Le Café du Commerce ($$), Le Plomb du Cantal, Il était un square (burgers), Restaurant Kunitoraya (for the udon).
- Where to find good cheap eats: in the Latin Quarter. Look for Moroccan, Lebanese or Asian restaurants. Also, try out the city’s crepe stands – these are delicious thin pancakes.
- Dangerous areas: Paris is generally safe during the day, although the suburbs should be avoided by tourists (no real reason to venture there). At night, avoid the northern 18th and 19th districts, the area around Marx Dormoy, Porte de la Chapelle, La Chapelle, Porte de Clignancourt, Porte de la Villette and some blocks around “Porte de Montreuil” station.
Recommended trip duration: 5-6 days