There’s something very liberating about traveling alone. But beyond the exhilaration is how much you end up absorbing the journey and the destination, the culture and the people- when you don’t have your own folks traveling with you. And cities like Paris, New York and Chicago are meant for the solo traveler. (Yes, for the romantic duos, friends and multi-generational families too), but there’s something about the lure of a busy city…you have to let yourself be lost just enough to feel the pulse of the city, not just check off things on the list. We also know that traveling alone or with company, a little organization and planning goes a long way- it even helps getting lost (and back on track) easier. So lists are great. Deviate as you will from it, but have it handy.
Paris has been romanticized for generations (and why not?) So I am not going to try and explain my love to you. Obviously if you’re planning to go, you know what’s pulling you. Just know it’s that and more. You will love Paris. No matter how much or how little time you have there, I hope this list will make your travel planning a little smoother.
Eiffel Tower- Sit on a bench by the river and watch the hourly twinkling lights
- Notre Dame- I’m not very religious but even I felt a strange peace and calm sitting at the dark, cool pews in Notre Dame church in the early hours of the morning. Ignore the photo obsessed tourists and please don’t turn into one. Just sit, walk around and look at the beautiful glass and architecture, if nothing else. Art can be very empowering, calming and Godly.
- Louvre Museum- Make a list of a few things that you absolutely want to see, mark them on your map and go see them. Don’t try to see it all and lose yourself.
- Pont de l’Archevêché/ Paris Love locks- the Paris bridge of locks is something very powerful and unique although locks to signify forever love is not a new concept in itself.
- Jardin du Luxembourg/ Luxembourg gardens- Bask in the sun, sit on the grass and watch the fountains as pigeons and ducks frolick. Totally worth your picnic basket full of pastries!
- Pain au chocolat (chocolate pastries) with espresso
- Crepes…also with espresso, because why not?
- creme brulee (again espresso would be a good addition, or maybe I’m craving a shot now and hence…)
- rabbit stew (I don’t really condone eating rabbits because I have 2 as pets…but the French rabbit stew is something divine- homey, comfort food with enough pizzazz)
On this self-guided walking tour, I recommend the following route:
- Luxembourg Gardens
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Louvre Museum
- Grand Palais
- Champ Elysees
- Eiffel Tower
My tip is to break this up in 3-4 days because each of these locations deserve their hour or two and some 4-6. But this gives you an idea of where you should look for lodging.
- Walk. A lot. Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, shades, carry water- you know the drill. The best way to see Paris is on foot. Walking everywhere will help you discover your own version of Paris, beyond the remarkable specialties and it’s going to be more glorious than anyone else’s; yes, even Rick Steve’s.
- Pack light enough that you can haul your suitcase up the stairs…like in a lot of places in Europe, the buildings are old and stairways narrow, often with no elevator access. So prep accordingly.
- Carry as little cash as possible, wear jackets/ shirts with inner pockets and carry your passport and valuables with you.
- Brush up on your “Bonjour”, be respectful and talk to the locals. I am not sure why they get the “rude” rep, clearly people who say that haven’t been to our part of the country (ahem Massachusetts!) Parisians are nice, busy and on-point maybe but I haven’t met a rude person yet.