Culture Trip brings you The Wishlist – a ready collection of travel ideas inspired by what you love. Discover things to do, where to stay, and the best spots to eat and drink.
In 1863, Charles Baudelaire used the term flâneur to describe a stroller or saunterer of Paris’s streets; “a person who walks the city in order to experience it”. And Paris is still a delightful city to wander alone.
Whether you choose to lose yourself in the bustling crowds of cluttered markets, explore winding Gothic passageways or meet fellow travellers at one of the city’s chic hostels, the French capital is a great destination for a solo trip.
To help you navigate your way around, Culture Trip has picked the city’s best experiences, accommodation and places to eat in order to make the most out of a solo trip to Paris.
See Paris from a different perspective with this guide tour. Beginning at the Saint-Michel Fountain, you’ll cycle through the sights and sounds of the Latin Quarter, the Marais, the Rue Mouffetard and the trendy Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood. The half-day tour is the ideal opportunity to meet new people and a wonderful chance to experience everyday Paris, as you cycle through charming streets, hidden courtyards and even past an ancient Roman arena. After all that exercise, there’s a much-needed stop for coffee and crêpes.
If you’d prefer to take in Paris at your own pace, the city’s flea markets, or marchés aux puces, offer a real sensory slice of Parisian culture. The market at Saint-Ouen is thought to be the world’s largest and oldest; established officially in 1885, it stretches over seven hectares and is home to more than 2,000 stalls. The modern marketplace itself is actually a group of many smaller markets that have been roughly categorised into three themes: vintage and antiques, clothing and professional markets (which are closed to the public). Haggling is expected here and a little bit of French will go a long way – as will a smile.
This converted municipal mortuary, which is located in one of Paris’s least affluent neighbourhoods, has rapidly become the city’s most vibrant cultural centre. Since opening in 2008, Le Centquatre has shown some of the best in the contemporary arts in Paris. Drop by any day of the week to find musicians, dancers and performance artists rehearsing or catch a show at one of the centre’s temporary exhibition spaces. There are also shops, cafés and food trucks – so you can really make a day of it.
Once home to some of the most creative minds of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Picasso, Renoir and Van Gogh, Montmartre continues to attract artists, writers and musicians to its buzzing café culture. This private tour will guide you through the enchanting streets of the neighbourhood via its windmills, cabarets and monuments, including the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which stands proudly overlooking the city. Your guide will even pick you up from your hotel.
Opened in 1921, the little-known Le Louxor is a beautiful example of Art Deco design. This chic cinema has a colourful history, having been at times a soft-porn palace and later Paris’s largest gay nightclub, before being abandoned and neglected into disrepair. Saved by the local community, Le Louxor was reopened for its original use, in all its former glory, in 2013. Today, Le Louxor still offers so much more than the latest blockbusters: catch screenings of French classics as well as short and independent films. And if the weather’s fine, grab a seat at its rooftop bar.
Engage in a spot of people-watching at this historic brasserie. Choose one of the outside bistro tables and order a coffee, or perhaps one of the signature hot chocolates, and take in the rhythm of the city as its streets ebb and flow around you. Les Deux Magots was once a hub for the city’s intellectual crowd and it’s still an inspiring place to eat, drink and hang out.
For some of the best (and most Instagrammable) sunset views of Paris, check out Le Perchoir – a rooftop cocktail bar with two premium locations: in the 11th arrondissement and on top of the BHV Marais department store. Kick back with a cocktail on one of the couches or snug tables and take in unrivalled views of the French capital. Le Perchoir fills up quickly during peak times, so get here early.
With a view that spans the gorgeous Parc de Belleville and much of the city skyline, this bar and restaurant has fast become a favourite of Parisians since opening a few years ago. The menu is full of French classics (the chef spent four years honing his craft with Michelin-star chef Thierry Marx at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris), but it’s the cocktails that really pack a punch. As you sip on your drink of choice, chill out and watch the sunset while enjoying some live music. If you’re visiting between March and September, head here on a Sunday afternoon for the weekly jazz concert.
Perfect for a solo stay, the Mob Hotel prides itself on creating a home away from home and a “sense of community” within Paris. Close to the flea market of Saint-Ouen, this hip hideaway mixes urban and bohemian chic in the decor of each of its 92 rooms. The restaurant-bar attracts a fairly young crowd to its sprawling terrace, where guests can enjoy a no-fuss Mediterranean menu and music from the DJ decks. The calendar of “happenings” is jam-packed and aimed at local residents as much as hotel guests – stay a few days and you might come across a live podcast session, an unplugged gig by a French indie artist or a hip-hop themed vinyasa flow yoga session.
Just a 20-minute stroll from Gare du Nord, Generator Paris is the perfect base from which to explore the capital. With its glitzy reception area and sociable Café Fabien, this edgy design hostel, which has a mix of shared and private rooms (some with their own terraces), is a far cry from your typical budget-friendly accommodation. Plus, Generator Paris has an incredible rooftop terrace, free walking tours of the city each day and even a basement nightclub.
Les Piaules is a great jumping-off point for exploring the arts and culture of the 11th arrondissement. The hostel is close to the Métro and the Rue Denoyez, an impressive graffiti-covered street. Situated in the heart of cosmopolitan Belleville, Les Piaules is a stylish, friendly place to stay. The hostel has double rooms, female and mixed dorms (with curtained bunk beds and individual lockers), and a library and games room where you can unwind after a day sightseeing. The bar and lounge serves a range of food and drink, including craft beer, home-made lemonade, and local wine and cheese.