I was blessed with the experience of taking my first solo trip ever to Paris in November 2017. And I mean my first solo trip EVER. I was so excited to see what it would be like to travel completely alone. I’m going to share my experiences and create somewhat of a Paris guide for you all 🙂
So, what DID I do in Paris? Eat baguettes, macaroons, crepes? You bet. Now what else did I see? I tried to stay off the beaten path a little bit, and strayed from from spending too much time in museums (although they are undoubtedly wonderful).
Since I was alone, I was pretty efficient and got to see everything I had researched. From eating savory crepes, to finding unique neighborhoods and strolling around the Seine River, I really fell in love with Paris in such a short amount of time.
Now, what should you do in Paris?
1. Eat the best crepe of your life at Chez Imogène
This was seriously the best crepe of my life from Chez Imogène, a little blue restaurant situated on the corner of Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud in Oberkampf. When I arrived, I was told I needed to wait for about 20 minutes for a table. No problem. There wasn’t a line or anyone really ahead of me, but space is limited since its a very small eatery.
I decided to use this time by exploring a cute market I walked by before. I have visited many markets in my life, and I am honestly becoming obsessed with them. I think visiting the markets in these European cities shows a lot about the culture and the food that the locals actually buy. The vendors had a huge assortment of whole vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat. There was also a smaller section for random knick knacks.
Back to my life-changing crepe adventure… when I arrived, I ordered a set menu for €10.50 which included (*hold your breath*) an appetizer salad, one sweet crepe, one savory crepe, one glass of wine of cider, and tea or coffee. I know the price of crepes are usually pretty low, but honestly when it came out I was amazed. The savory crepe I ordered, filled with leeks, mushroom, and egg, was so delicious. I was so satisfied by the end of my meal. I’m not used to the French way of eating large meals less frequently. The crepe was so crispy, and was even gluten free so I didn’t feel too stuffed. Eating at this spot is an absolute must.
2. Walk around the neighborhood, Le Marais (my favorite)
Le Marais includes the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. I absolutely loved walking along these streets which felt so distinct from other areas in Paris., most notably Rue des Rosiers and around Rue des Barres (where some Gossip Girl scenes were filmed). I loved this area because the streets were narrow and packed with cute local shops and everything felt very authentic. It actually reminded me of a more European version of Soho in NYC.
3. Stroll aimlessly along the Seine River
This picture was taken on the Pont des Arts, where all the love locks used to be. This was a really pretty place to hangout and gaze over the water.
4. Go inside Notre Dame for free
Notre Dame is a must see especially if you’re trying to do something without spending money. Definitely add this to your Paris guide if you’re a student, budget traveler, or just someone looking for beautiful old architecture. Inside are wonderful views, as the French Gothic architecture will be sure to please you. Especially if you’re visiting from the US, you will be in awe at the immensity of this cathedral because these aren’t that common back home.
5. Walk around the Jardin de Luxembourg at dusk
This is such a gorgeous palace to wander around in the late afternoon during the winter months. Although the garden wasn’t blossomed, and the trees were bare, there was a very relaxed atmosphere. I saw many people comfortably sitting in chairs reading books or snuggling with their significant other. There weren’t a million tourists here which made this place very peaceful. I would definitely check this garden and palace out after visitng Notre Dame.
6. Give the famous Arc de Triomphe a visit
Everyone I asked “what should I do in Paris?” replied first and foremost with “definitely see the Arc de Triomphe!” I am definitely really happy that I went and saw it, but being the very honest person that I am, have to admit it was a bit underwhelming. I don’t know what I expected, but it was slightly boring to me. However, I am glad I went as I know many many people appreciate it! It made a perfect ending point from my walk down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
6. Spent time in the Jardin des Tuileries
I wish so much to come back to Paris in warmer weather, so I can sprawl out on a large blanket and read a book while munching on a baguette. However, I did get a taste of Parisian parks during my visit. This was a perfect place to visit after walking around the Louvre for a few hours.
7. Admire how big the Louvre really is
In all honesty I had no clue the Louvre was so massive. The whole building almost wrapped around the glass pyramid and the building itself was so immense. This is definitely a cool place to see, especially for museum lovers that flock around the world to admire the art inside.
8. Drool over food in Rue Montorgueil
Rue Montorgueil is an eclectic street lined with all sorts of bakeries, fish shops, wine shops, cheese stores, bistros, flower stands, and cafes. It is truly a foodie’s paradise. I loved walking up and down this street a few times to soak in all the food they had to offer. Being overwhelmed, I didn’t end up buying anything which I now regret. I would definitely recommend coming here and getting a bite to eat or buying something to bring home. Definitely add this street to your personal Paris guide if you are “into” eating 😉
9. Drink wine under the Eiffel Tower
Whoops, ok I broke a few rules by drinking wine under the Eiffel Tower. But cmon, I’m a 20 year old American student in the fairyland that is Paris. How could I resist?
But for real, the Eiffel Tower was insane. I honestly liked it even more at night when it sparkled on the hour. Add to your own Paris guide for sure!
10. Walk along the Quai de Jemmapes
Walking along this canal was one of the highlights of my trip to Paris. First of all the weather was absolutely perfect. For a late November day, all I could ask for was a little sunlight on my face. Secondly, it felt like another world. The whole walk was so quiet and peaceful, I almost forgot where I was.
Walking along the Quai de Jemmapes was one of the best decisions I made during my trip. It was a good Sunday morning exercise and gave me a chance to decompress.
11. Wander into the Jardin du Palais Royal
Right before I found the Royal Gardens, I stumbled into this intreresting courtyard outside of the Palais-Royal.
I found this park out of pure luck. I was walking around on Sunday, my last day in Paris, and came across what I now know as the Jardin du Palais Royal.
The one thing that really stood out to me here were the trees. Even though they were all pretty much bare, I loved how they were aligned to make orderly rows. I love how precise they all were planted. I also remember seeing some young kids running around and playing soccer, who seemed to be having a really fun time. It was interesting because to me, this park was so visually impressive and a symbol of the simplicity of Paris, but to them it was just another place to kick around a ball. This concludes my Paris guide!
Other brillant things I did:
Visited the Wall of I Love You in Montmartre (photo #8)
Ate macaroons at Pierre Hermé (amazing but $$$) and Damyel (kosher, cheaper, tasty)
Ate the best Korean food of my life at Restaurant Shin Jung
Went to an amazing bakery Le Grenier à Pain in Montmartre for some authentic baked goods
Overall, my first solo trip to Paris was amazing. I felt so empowered to make my own decisions and explore one of the world’s most beautiful cities on my own. I didn’t take any public transportation or taxis, and really took advantage seeing the city by foot. This solo trip to Paris has given me the courage to try more on my own in the future, however, I really did miss my boyfriend next to me the whole time. I wish he was there but I know we could always come back.
Paris is truly a beautiful place and I think everyone can identify with a certain part of this city. I hope my Paris guide helped inspire some ideas if you ever head there. If you have any more questions about what I did or where I stayed, please feel free to ask me!