I write to you from a tiny bed, crammed in the living room of a two room apartment in Geneva Switzerland. The windows before me overlook Lake Geneva and the Jet d’Eau, shooting beams of water high into the crisp winter air. I am grateful to be here with my family, all cozied up for the holidays in charmingly close quarters.
Yet, just one short week ago, I roamed the streets of the most romantic city in the world, solo.
People often stare at me flabbergasted when I tell them I’d prefer to wander through Paris alone.
“It’s the city of love” they say.
“Don’t you feel lonely?”
Or, the classic: “But wouldn’t it be better with a partner?”
To all these questions I grin and say, “nope!”
Paris is the perfect city to fall in love in. But ya’ll, the best person to fall in love with is always YOURSELF.
I yearn for days spent wandering the streets of Montmartre, vin chaud in one hand, my journal in the other; completely free and totally inspired.
I long for nights spent on Printemps roof, love songs trickling softly through my ears buds as I gaze upon the Eiffel Tower and realize how lucky I am to have this magic moment all to myself.
Cities of love are not simply for couples, families, or friends, they are for us too. They exist for the solo travelers of the world as well.
They exist so we can write our own love stories, realize our worth, and laugh out loud as babies chase pigeons, or moan with delight as we bite into sandwiches crafted from french baguettes.
These cities of romance should not be passed up simply because we choose to go the road alone. Rather, I encourage you to seek them out, to explore these cities and in turn explore yourself, knowing all the while that you will find deep magic reserved only for you, magic you would otherwise miss.
So, as I often do, I will share my words with you.
Words from my journal pages. Words filled with magic and love. Words that remind you: you mustn’t be what anyone expects you to be, you mustn’t walk hand in hand with another to be valuable, you mustn’t be in love with anyone else, to simply be in love with yourself!
And here we go…
on the steps
of Sacré Coeur
by love songs
on a playlist
just for her.
in the afternoon
as they often do
when her heart
but maybe a glass of
for her abundance.
to be contained.
turned away, the others
her journey back.
as few others are.
If you’re not yet feeling inspired to travel through Paris solo, let me share a roadmap to help you feel more prepared and inspired
These are my favorite solo stops in Paris, France.
1). Stay in Gare Du Nord —
I stay at St. Christophers Hostel each time I visit Paris. It will run you about $20/night. They have all female rooms if you’re looking for peace and quiet. They provide a pretty good free breakfast (french bread, ham and cheese, fruit and yogurt), and they have a ton of good resources like free walking tours if you need to get the lay of the land.
If hostels aren’t for you there are also some lovely hotels in the area as well
Gare Du Nord is the best place to be in my opinion, it’s super easy to get to and from both Paris Airports (CDG and ORLY), the metro and train station are super central, and there are great restaurants and super markets all around you. Oh, and you’re walking distance from my favorite part of Paris: Montemarte.
2). Montemarte — is a charming neighborhood 15 minutes on foot from Gare Du Norde. It is an art district once home to Picaso and Dali - pretty incredible right? Artists still gather here to share their work, the corners are home to cafes and restaurants, and musicians can always be found strumming and singing through the streets.
Visit during the afternoon AND at sunset — walking around during the day is charming and you’ll get the full artist experience and heading back for sunset is sure to gift you with street performers galore and a beautiful skyline view
Grab a glass of vin chaud (hot spiced wine) if you’re there in the winter
Bring a sandwich for your afternoon excursion - the restaurants are hit or miss and all pretty spendy
And DEFINITELY visit Sacre Coeur
3). Sacre Coeur — is an incredible church and the highest point in the city. It’s packed full of beauty and history.
Did I mention it’s the highest point? The view is breathtaking!
Looking for a place to people watch? The steps beneath the church are for you!
Despite being the 2nd most visited landmark in Paris it always feels calm to me, there’s always a spot waiting to cozy up, write and take in the city!
4). Printemps Terrace — this spot is a hidden gem, with the most wicked view of the Eiffel Tower I’ve ever seen, but it’s a little tricky to find.
Head to Printemps (40 Boulevard Haussmann 75009) and enter through the Hommes (men’s department) building, take the elevator up to the 8th floor and there will be a stairwell up to the terrace on the 9th. I got totally turned around the first time I went — not to worry you catch on quick.
The balcony was once completely open, a place to take in the city and purchase food if you wished. But now the majority of the balcony is occupied my a restaurant and only a small silver is available for those who do not wish to eat. It’s still magic and I recommend soaking it up while you still can!
I mean check out this view…
5). Notre Dame — is a gothic cathedral! It’s quite incredible, I’ve only been twice, once most recently, but I enjoyed it!
Notre Dame always makes me think of Disney, the hunchback, and eating lentils on my best friends couch in elementary school — so it’s hard for me not to love it
If you can’t vibe with that nostalgia, here are few great things about Notre Dame:
It’s insanely beautiful — like damn, American’s could never dream of building cathedrals like that
It is right on the Seine River — this is my favorite part, it’s lovely to stroll along the river on your way to the beautiful gothic church
It has a free bathroom in the back courtyard — SCORE!
6). Eiffel Tour — from Notre Dame you can take the subway or walk to the Eiffel Tour. Honestly, I prefer to walk on The Seine.
The Eiffel tower is a great lunch or writing spot, there is a park called the Gardens of the Trocadero which provides the perfect spot to gaze upon the tower without tourists buzzing in your ear.
It’s worth a trip up if you’ve never been before — I went up in 8th grade and remember it being incredible but have never felt the need to spend the money of time to go again
7). Champs Elysees and The Arc De Triomphe — both are worth seeing, but best to combine into one trip with such close proximity.
The Arc De Triomphe is rad and super easy to get to by metro — I’ve actually never been up in it but you can cross under the roundabout and gaze at it from directly below for free
If you want an amazing photo just be patient eventually the cars looping around it will break and if you’re fast enough you’ll get a good shot — I was less patient this trip than the last, or perhaps just less lucky.
The Champs Elysees is trippy, it’s full of luxury shops and a Five Guys — the weirdest combo — but a good place to browse around
Catch a beautiful Christmas Light show if you’re there during the winter, it’s quite elaborate!
*Pro Tip #1: If you visit during the winter months — particularly December — there should also be iceskating, multiple Christmas markets and incredible and elaborate holiday displays at Gallerie Lafayette and the surrounding department stores!
** Pro Tip #2: McDonalds bathrooms are clean, plentifu,l and free. If the McDonalds if more than two levels the bathroom is often on the top or basement floor
*** Pro Tip #3: The metro system is mostly great, each line will have a map in the actual car, if you have questions you can always ask and/or consult Google Maps (it will outline your stops for you).
So, there you have it, a poem full of inspiration, magic and self love; a roadmap to the best spots for solo travelers in Paris; and a huge reminder that no city is off limits to you!
Unlock yourself from judgement, worry or expectation and explore the cities of love around the world; knowing, with each step you take, you will fall more deeply in love with yourself!
Sending wishes for a beautiful journey,