Paris, France – Things to Do and Safety for Solo Female Travelers
Paris, France, the ultimate dream vacation for the female traveler. The City of Love inspires romance and culture, even when you travel solo and don’t have a partner–the city itself is companion enough. Paris blends together history, art, and nature into a concoction of pure beauty.
That Paris dream vacation takes a bit of planning before it becomes reality, so in this article you’ll learn everything you need to know about when to visit, where to stay, places to avoid, the best attractions to see, how to get around, Covid restrictions, and stuff you’ll need to know for international travel.
Things to Know About Paris
Paris, France receives about 30 million visitors a year, making it the 6th most visited city in the world. Paris is commonly nicknamed the “City of Light,” due to the high concentration of writers, artists, and academics, making it one of the leading cultural cities in the world. There are lots of dogs in France with one dog per 7 people.
France has a complicated and violent history—if we didn’t learn enough about that from Les Misérables. Today, Paris is moderately safe, which is average for large cities. But what about solo female travelers, is it safe? With the right preparation, yes! Paris is safe.
The city is known for romance, but it is still a city, with people living normal lives, so don’t expect the city to rain rose petals everywhere you step. Thinking “everything is magical in Paris” is called the Paris Syndrome and it leaves many vacationers disappointed when the city doesn’t live up to its romantic expectations. Rose petals aside, Paris has over 6,000 streets, ensuring that tourists are well-cared for and can fully enjoy the real romance that the city brings.
What Languages Do They Speak in Paris?
The simple answer is French. It’s a love language, France wouldn’t be half as romantic without French. However, many locals are accustomed to the many tourists and will know English. Many attractions have English-speaking tour-guides available or allow tour companies access to give tours in English. Some restaurants and other venues will have menus in English and French. However, English speakers are not guaranteed everywhere you might go.
While you can fully enjoy Paris without knowing any French, knowing some of the most popular phrases, questions, and greetings is courteous and may help you get around more quickly.
Weather & Crowds in Paris
Overall, France has a moderate climate. Winter months can get chilly, with highs around 45°F and lows around 36°F. Summers are warm with highs around 77°F and lows around 58°F. Most travelers visit between the summer months of June to August. The weather is warm, but not burning, and the days are long with lots of sunshine. Humidity is low, but not dry. Paris is rainy year-round, seeing more precipitation than London. The rains are usually light and come and go throughout the day.
If you visit during the summer, expect lots of crowds and more expensive hotels, flights, and attractions. If you want to avoid too many crowds, visit in the Fall, where you still get some French warmth and don’t get overcharged.
Must See Attractions and Things to Do in Paris
France really is beautiful. Each building is its own iconic and historical masterpiece. The following list contains some of the most popular and beautiful attractions of Paris that really are worth the visit. Everything on this list can be done alone, but tour groups are also available.
- Musee d’Orsay (Orsay Museum)
One of the largest art museums in Europe, the Musee d’Orsay is renowned for its classic French art and beautiful architecture. The beautiful museum sits beside the Seine River and was originally a railway station. The Orsay Museum is best known for its impressionist art from painters like Monet, Pissarro, and Renoir.
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Often touted as the most famous Gothic style cathedral, Notre-Dame is an architectural masterpiece for its size, antiquity, and detail. Currently Notre-Dame is closed to visitors but remains a beautiful place to visit—after all, it is the most visited monument in Paris with twelve million visitors annually. In 2019 much of the Cathedral burned down and is currently undergoing extensive repairs.
The Saints-Chapelle’s walls are adorned with one of the largest 13th century stained glass window collections on Earth. The windows are not the only attraction here though, as you can also see the stunning artistry of the architecture, learn about the chapel’s history, and see the mesmerizing ornate statues that surround every archway, corner, and ceiling. This is also the only Chapelle in France where you can still get married. Most of the religious/historic relics were moved here after the Notre-Dame fire.
More commonly known as Opera Garnier, this illustrious palace was built for the Paris Opera. The Opera house remains functional today with afternoon and evening performances as well as opportunities for the public to tour each day of the week. Even if you don’t like opera, the Opera Garnier is a rewarding cultural experience.
Crafted by the same architectural artist as the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous monuments in the world. The tower became open to the public the same day it debuted at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair and has charmed visitors ever since. You can’t visit Paris without at least one iconic photo of the Eiffel Tower.
- Musée de l’Orangerie (Orangerie Museum)
A museum described as “chosen and arranged by Claude Monet” is sure to impress tourists and natives alike as its walls feature painting masterpieces from renowned artists: Cezanne, Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau, Matisse, Derain, and more.
Free to the public, the Champ de Mars is a wide-open span of green, a perfect park to take walks in, tour the Eiffel Tower, and sit down with your love to enjoy the scenery around you.
- Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch)
The Arc de Triomphe, also known as the Triumphal Arch, is one of the most recognizable monuments in Paris. View the entirety of Paris while on top of the panoramic terrace or visit the grave of the Unknown Soldier—tour the arc and enjoy the centuries of history it holds.
This famous art museum is known for more than just its appearance in various heist blockbusters. In fact, the Louvre is the largest museum in the world, featuring classic art from world renowned artists. The Louvre continues to stun visitors with its royal gardens, palatial architecture, and original artwork from around the world.
This famous Seine River divides Paris into left and right halves and runs 482 miles long, making it perfect to tour the City of Lights. Cruise down the river on one of the many offered guided tours or take a stroll along the river’s edge.
As the name hints, these gardens are attached to the famous Luxembourg Palace. The sprawling 55 acres are open to the public and features the stylings of a classic French garden: flowers, green grass, and a pond. There are over one hundred statues to admire as well as greenhouses and a museum.
This beautiful monument is built atop the highest point of the city—butte Montmartre—and functions today as a Catholic Church. Visiting is open to the public with some planning.
Explore the Disney inspired theme park based in Paris. With rides, food, parades, and characters, this park offers great fun for adults and kids alike.
Where to Stay in Paris
First, you need to understand how Paris is set up because it’s different from most cities. Paris is divided into 20 neighborhoods (called Arrondissements) which start with “1” in the middle and spiral outward. The 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Arrondissements are the safest for travelers.
Many tourists prefer the 7th Arrondissement because it has a blend of tourism and local culture, with a view of the Eiffel tower.
The 18th Arrondissement may be the best area for budget hotels, but you want to avoid the northern part (because it’s dangerous) and stay as close to Montmartre as you can get.
How To Get Around in France
The Paris Metro services 5 million people daily, making it a busy, though reliable mode of transportation. It is also incredibly safe, making it a great option for those traveling alone.
If you take the metro, be aware that they do not announce their stops like in other cities, so count your stops and make sure you stay alert.
Buses, trains, and taxis are also a safe and affordable option while visiting Paris.
While violent crime is low, pickpockets are common on the metro, so make sure to keep items close to you. Keep valuables stowed away. And unfortunately, no, pockets are not safe from thieving hands.
Safety Tips for Visiting Paris
Paris has some tricks people use to con tourists that you don’t usually see in other parts of the world. Scammers are quite common, and you should make sure you recognize and ignore them.
- Nothing is free. Even if they say it is at first. If someone hands you something, don’t take it unless you are prepared to pay for it. This includes jewelry, roses, and friendship bracelets people will try to slap on you. If you see money, rings, or other valuables dropped, don’t pick them up. Scammers use this trick to force you to pay.
- You’ll also see lots of volunteers or charity workers asking for donations or signatures for petitions. These are also scams that don’t really help anyone.
- Street sellers can get a bit pushy, and shops are designed to get you to be nosy and touch stuff. Don’t do this either. First, it’s not culturally acceptable to be picking stuff up in stores, secondly, lots of vendors use the “if you touch it you buy it rule.”
- Rape is less likely in France than in the U.S., but you should still be careful.
- Don’t go exploring, and especially don’t get lost.
- Pickpockets are willing to steal phones right out of your hands. Paris is safer than most cities at night, but when traveling alone, stay in well-lit, well-populated areas. Well-known tourist attractions are safest, especially for females, because they provide the most security and visibility.
- While enjoying nightlife, don’t get too drunk, and keep a close eye on your drinks.
Areas of Caution
Paris is safe overall, but there are still some areas you should avoid. By avoid we mean, don’t book hotels, visit, or pass through. Check out a map of the city beforehand so you know where these places are at. Also, be sure to ask hotel clerks and other locals before seeing attractions as they can tell you the best way to get there and enjoy your day, as well as give you other safety tips for specific areas you want to see.
Marx Dormoy, Porte de la Chapelle, La Chapelle, Porte de Clignancourt, Porte de la Villette, 18th, and 19th districts (at night).
Travel Restrictions and Guidelines
On December 6, 2021, The United States issued a level 4 (of 4) red risk “Do Not Travel” warning. Until the risk alert is updated, travel to the French Republic is strongly discouraged. The three parts of this warning include terrorism, civil unrest, and health risk due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The risk of Covid-19 infection is high, which increases your chances of getting sick. Political and social tensions are also leading to many demonstrations and potential terrorist attacks in France which makes it a tough time to travel. These tensions and health risks won’t last forever, so keep checking reputable news outlets and government health service information sites.
Things You Need for International Travel to France
When traveling internationally, there are some extra considerations. Laws are a little different from country to country, so compliance is necessary. You can see more details from the French Official Government Website.
- You cannot stay in France longer than three months.
- You do not need a visa if traveling to France as a U.S. citizen tourist.
- You will need to fill out a “short-stay visa.”
What you will need:
- A valid passport that will remain valid at least three months after you return home.
- Proof of accommodation (hotel reservations)
- Proof of sufficient finances (credit cards)
- Proof of return passage.
- Insurance certificate that proves you are medically covered while in France.
Fill out your information in the “Visa Wizard,” which will tell you other required documentation.
Additional Travel Tips
With the right planning, your international flight can take you directly into Paris.
Don’t walk around with your passport. If you lose it, you’ll have to contact your country’s embassy, which might delay you getting home and cost you extra.