I will readily admit that I am not a big fan of Paris after having been pelted with peaches by a street vendor when I was 20. I didn’t speak French and she must’ve thought I was trying to bargain with her and she started tossing the damn things at me and my friend when all we did was ask the price. Anyway, I haven’t been back since but I am continually fascinated by those who are romanticized by this city and turn to them for insight on solo travel in the City of Lights.
Generally, I find that most women who travel solo will stick to museums and cafes in a big city and not explore the nightlife or underbelly of a metropolis far from home. So, for that I turn to a single guy. Yes, men crave four things no matter where they are: food, women, sports and music and not necessarily in that order. Patent attorney and good friend Charlie Rattner knows Paris better than he knows the Bronx (I can attest to that having been side-tracked with him en route to see The Yankees and Derek Jeter!)
So here are some solo travel tips, French style, from our single guy for Wanderlust Women in Paris:
Places to Stay: Find a great deal on Paris Hotels at the Wanderlust Women Travel Shop
Things to See: Take the Metro to the Maison Rouge stop and start the day at Sacre Couer. This stop places you on a less pedestrian-filled path to the Basilica and offers amazing panoramic views of the City of Lights. Grab a Nutella crepe for breakfast and explore this wonderful hillside before jumping back on the Metro.
Next stop would be Charles De Gaulle Etoile – your destination for the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees. Charlie says you can avoid climbing to the top of the Arc since you’ve already had a great city view from Sacre Couer. Instead, spend the day walking the shops and sites of Champs Elysees and head over to the Jardin des Champs Elysees and the Place de la Concorde, where they hung Marie Antoinette. Mon dieu! If you head east from there you will wind up at the Louvre and you can pop in for a visit with the Mona Lisa (admission is free on the first Sunday of every month & Bastille Day, July 14th).
Nightlife: Head straight to the intersection of Saint Denis and Strasbourg, which straddles Paris’ 1st and 2nd Districts. The area is jam-packed with restaurants, bars, clubs and lot of nightlife, some of it racy (hey, he’s a guy, remember they have 4 things they want!) Charlie is hard-pressed to pick a favorite restaurant in Paris but suggests solo girls may like Au Pere Tranquille, named after an old French film. It’s a block off Saint Denis at 16 Rue Pierre Lescot. The locals will never dine before 8pm; so, if you want to beat the crowd and feel better in an empty restaurant, then dine early.
Metalheads should head over to The Black Dog where they still have black lights for neon markings on the wall and 2 varieties of Absinthe, if you dare.
Transportation: The easiest way to get around is the Metro. The Metro lines are color-coded and at the entrance to each track you will see a list of stops it serves in that direction. Carry a bunch of euro coins to use the automatic card-dispensing machines and grab a multi-day pass for all zones. The card machines do speak English but won’t accept American debit/credit cards so be prepared with local currency.
Safety: Midnight seems to be the witching hour, although Charlie says a single woman should generally feel safe walking the streets of Paris. He suggests, however, that you don’t stray too far from Strasbourg on either side of St. Denis after midnight.