My friend has a theory: London and New York are boy towns, while Paris is all about being a girl. Judging from all the fashion, pink pastries and charming men around, I think she may be onto something. Paris is the ideal destination for a girl getaway. Even if that girl is alone.
Paris is a safe city, so you can stay in just about any neighborhood that fits your budget and strikes your fancy. I would avoid a hotel near the metro stops from Pigalle to Barbès-Rochechouart (on line 2) because of the XXX crowds; when I am alone I prefer lively, animated areas like the Latin Quarter and the Marais, but that is not a safety issue. Before moving to Paris I would often stay at the Hôtel Lindbergh, and I loved its location in the St. Germain quartier so much that I moved next door.
The majority of parisiennes—that is to say, more than 50 percent—are single, and they all have to eat, which means sightings of women dining alone are common. The staff does not mind and they will frequently go out of their way to make you feel welcome. And the great thing is that we are often just what the restaurant needs to fill a canceled reservation or an awkward nook, so women alone can sometimes get lucky at restaurants that are booked months in advance.
I can’t think of a single restaurant that I would not recommend for dining alone, but I do have some personal favorites—places that offer food beyond the ordinary and a lively scene with excellent people-watching opportunities. Cuisine de Bar, in the 6th Arrondissement, has an open kitchen, and at lunchtime about half the tables are taken by locals out on their own. L’Avant Comptoir is another fave. And for a cozy evening with an eccentric crowd, I am invariably drawn to the bar americain at the historic Closerie des Lilas.
Now that we have our lodgings and are well fed, it’s time to play. Even if you don’t speak French, there is always some music playing somewhere. For information on concerts, dance performances, opera or any other entertainment, buy a Pariscope at the nearest magazine stand. Cinema is the seventh art, and in Paris it is an important cultural activity, drawing regular crowds.
Paris really is an extraordinarily safe city with plenty of attractions and distractions—the perfect place for a girl to start flying solo.
Cuisine de Bar
8, rue du Cherche-Midi, in the 6th.
01 45 48 45 69.