Paris is a destination of endless romance and deep literary history. Whether you’re more inclined to read Ernest Hemingway or Gertrude Stein, Julia Child or David Lebovitz, chances are somebody has made you dream of dropping everything and moving to Paris, where you can while your day away in a cafe, working from your laptop. This guide to Paris for solo female travelers and digital nomads will show you all the basics for a fabulous experience in the City of Light!
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When is the best time to visit Paris?
Springtime in Paris is a cliche for a reason. Between the blooms on the trees and the more moderate crowds, April and May are the best time to visit Paris. Just wear plenty of layers as mornings stay quite cool all the way through late June.
Summer is a more lively time to visit. Midsummer night fills the streets with music, dance, and drunken revelry, particularly in the Latin Quarter. The Paris Plages festival running all summer lines the banks of the Seine with sand, beach chairs, and other oceanfront accoutrements. Since Paris is far enough north that temperatures don’t get too hot, this is one of Europe’s best destinations for peak season travel.
Autumn and winter will have the fewest visitors, so this is the best time to visit Paris for those actively seeking to avoid crowds and snag bigger deals.
How much to budget for solo female travel in Paris
A flight to Paris from the eastern US at the height of summer is going to cost $300-400 at the bare minimum. Staying in an off-the-beaten track neighborhood like Belleville or on the northern outskirts of Montmartre can score you a dorm bed at 30-35 euro a night. Plan on having at least one night to splurge and treat yourself to world-famous French cuisine. The cheapest quality meal you can find at a sit-down restaurant will probably be around 20-25 euro, but prix fixe menus at lunch are a better deal. For the rest of your trip, expect to spend 20-30 euro per day on food. The metro is unavoidable in Paris – a “carnet” or pack of 10 tickets is 14 euro.
As part of the EU, France uses the euro now, instead of its old system of francs. The conversion for euros to U.S. dollars is quite close, so don’t bother doing any mental math on the go. Just treat them as one and the same, unless you’re making a very large purchase and need to calculate the conversion exactly.
How to get to Paris
Multiple airports serve the city, the largest being Charles de Gaulle. If you’re arriving from elsewhere in Europe, however, you might land at Orly instead. Buses to the city center serve both airports, with tickets costing 7-10 euro. You can also take the RER train from Charles de Gaulle for the same price. The trip from Charles de Gaulle is about an hour.
There are also of course ample bus and train routes arriving in Paris from other European cities. The Gare de Paris Bercy, on metro line 14, is a major hub for Ouibus (the best bus company in France!), as well as serving as a train station. Porte Maillot, on metro line 1, is an arrival point for Flixbus (my go-to choice for cheap bus tickets all over Europe). Paris is often on high alert against terrorist attacks, so you may encounter security and searches when arriving by bus.
How to get around Paris as a solo female traveler
The metro is quite extensive and the best way to get around Paris. A single ticket costs just shy of 2 euro, which is a bit steep compared to other subway systems. So matter how little you think you might use the train, buy the discounted 10 ticket “carnet” for 14 euro. Chances are, you’ll wind up using more tickets than you expected.
The quality of Paris metro trains varies considerably. Some platforms on line 1 are extremely high tech, with extra safety barriers between the platform and the train door to prevent anyone from getting to the tracks. Other trains, particularly on the double digit lines, are noticeably older. You may have to put a little elbow grease into working the handle to open the doors at your stop.
Give yourself plenty of time to navigate the metro. If you’re staying farther out of the city center to save money, such as in Montmartre or Belleville, you may need as much as an hour to get from your accommodations to a centrally-located attraction.
Is Paris safe for solo female travelers?
Paris is pretty safe for solo female travelers. Street harassment, especially after sunset, is unfortunately common and this is one destination where wearing a fake (or real) wedding ring doesn’t stave off unwanted advances. You should also keep a close eye on your bag especially around major tourist attractions where pickpocketing is a risk — I always wear a cross-body purse instead of a backpack for my day bag.
Normal safety precautions and a thick skin against rude comments are all you need to stay safe as a solo female traveler in Paris.
Packing list for solo female travelers in Paris
Paris is considerably cooler than many other French cities. Even in summer, a chilly morning can catch you off guard. Light layers are critical for solo female travelers in Paris and a lightweight scarf should always be in your bag. Sticking to neutral colors, especially black, will help you blend in with the locals. That Paris chic look relies on well tailored items with a limited color palette. Comfortable flat boots are a good all-weather choice.
As a digital nomad, you’ll of course have your standard electronics in your pack, whether that’s a smartphone, laptop, or DSLR camera. Paris is full of amazing viewpoints, so if you’re a professional photographer, don’t leave your tripod at home. While you should always keep a close eye on your belongings in large cities, this is one place where you can typically feel comfortable setting up equipment for a long exposure shot of the Eiffel Tower — if you’re so inclined.
You should also make sure you have a nice collapsible tote, like the ones made by Envirosax, for shopping. Browsing a morning market to pick up the makings of a picnic is a delightfully Parisian experience. There are so many scenic places throughout the city to set up camp for the afternoon. Grab some fresh fruit, cheese, and a bottle of wine for a budget-friendly al fresco meal. Slip a little stain remover in your bag just in case that wine flows too freely.
Where to stay in Paris as a solo female traveler
The best bargains on hostel beds are in Paris’ most artistic neighborhoods — for me, this is basically a win-win! Belleville is one of the few parts of the city that still lies off-the-beaten-track and has a truly eclectic nature. The streets are packed with graffiti, youthful cafes, and several Asian restaurants and markets. Local creators show off their wares – typically jewelry or fashion – at Chez Robert Smith. The Belleville metro station serves lines 2 and 11.
2022 Update: Unfortunately, the hostel where I stayed in Belleville has now closed. St. Christopher’s Inn is a highly rated hostel close to the Gare du Nord train station with all-female dorms for about $40 per night.
A private room in a hostel or Airbnb averages about 100 euro a night, so if you’re on a tight budget, be prepared to share.
If you have enough budget to splurge on a nice hotel,
I’m super jealous try one of these amazing properties with views of the Eiffel Tower!
Where to Eat in Paris for Solo Female Travelers
We’ve already touched on the idea of picnicking, but it’s not a thought you should forget. The Jardin des Tuileries or the Jardin de Luxembourg are both extremely posh spots to lay out some wine and cheese. The Champ de Mars can be a decent dinner spot. Snack as you watch the Eiffel Tower illuminate at dusk. Just be warned, vendors and hawkers are out in full force with tacky light-up toys and bottles of cheap champagne.
What about when you want to treat yourself to a nicer night out? The neighborhoods Pigalle and Republique are popular with locals. Saint-Germain-des-Pres is more touristy, but it’s also a great place for solo female travelers to find high quality, low budget meals. Au Pied de Fouet serves delicious French country fare, like duck confit and tarte tatin. A full meal with a glass of wine and dessert runs about 20 to 25 euro. It’s the best budget-friendly restaurant in Paris for solo female travelers!
Where to Work as a Digital Nomad in Paris
Paris has lots of work-friendly cafes, making it as ideal a city for creative pursuits today as it was in the days of Hemingway and Sartre.
In Belleville, Cafe Cheri is quite popular for its low prices and free WiFi. Nearby, La Mer a Boire is a haven for all manner of local creatives, from the writers taking advantage of its free WiFi to the cartoonists and graphic designers decorating the walls to the musicians playing on weekends.
In the Latin Quarter, the student-packed Cafe de la Nouvelle Mairie has a decidedly artsy vibe and serves up both good coffee and wine.
Affordable things to do in Paris for solo female travelers
Paris is a city of infinite attractions. No matter how long you’re staying or how many times you’ve visited before, you should have no trouble filling an itinerary. The trick is not spending too much money!
If you’re lucky enough to be around the first Sunday of the month, the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, and the Centre Georges Pompidou all offer free admission. Be warned – European free museum days draw huge crowds. You should carefully weigh the costs and benefits of paying to visit another day.
If you only want to visit one museum, I think the best art museum in Paris is the Musee d’Orsay. The museum’s tight focus on Impressionism makes it easy to see the full collection in as little as one to two hours. The same amount of time in the Louvre would barely put a dent in the world’s largest museum collection.
Some more off-the-beaten-path museums are always free, like the Musee National du Moyen Age (Museum of the Middle Ages), the Musee d’Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art), and the Musee Carnavalet (which is about the history of the city).
Some of Paris’ most famous landmarks are free as well, like the cathedral of Notre Dame. (Unfortunately, after the massive fire in 2019, Notre Dame is still under construction so you can’t go inside. The cathedral of Notre Dame is expected to reopen in 2024.)
You can definitely skip paying to go up the Eiffel Tower. Instead, just enjoy a free photo op with the icon of Paris in the background. Montparnasse Tower has a better view of the Paris skyline if you really want to pay for access to an observation deck. Or you can enjoy a free view of Paris from the steps of Sacre Coeur basilica in Montmartre.
Paris Greeters offer free walking tours of the city, or you can craft your own DIY walking tour of Paris itinerary, strolling along the Champs Elysees from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe. You could also wander Roman ruins at the Arene de Lutece, or pay a visit to Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf at the Pere Lachaise cemetery.
There are also plenty of green corners of Paris with no admission fees. The Jardin du Luxembourg, the Place des Vosges, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, and the Promenade Plantee are just a few highlights.
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Looking for more ways to fill your Parisian itinerary? Check out some alternatives to the classic slate of Eiffel Tower and Louvre visits. These Paris attractions aren’t totally off the beaten track, but it’s still easy for first-time visitors to miss them!