1. Get Outside of Paris
One of the biggest mistakes you can make on your trip to France (whether you’re alone in France or with a group) is staying in Paris the entire time.
I definitely made this mistake the first time I visited France, and I regret it.
Don’t be like me!
Paris is just a small slice of France, and the rest of the country has so much to offer! Every area of France is unique and a different experience.
As with many of the major cities in the world, Paris doesn’t give you a genuine sense of what France is like.
It is a taste of France, but you have to try more than one dish to get the full experience!
If you don’t have a lot of time in France or you’re nervous about travelling between cities, taking a day trip from Paris is a great option.
You will be surprised at how different somewhere just an hour or two outside Paris is from the capital city.
Especially if you choose your destination properly!
In a perfect world, you would spend at least a weekend outside of Paris, but I know that isn’t possible.
But please, please, please make sure you get outside Paris for at least one day on your solo trip to France!
I promise you’ll thank me later!
2. Learn a Little Bit of French
I’m sure you’ve heard the stereotypes that French people are rude and don’t like tourists.
That is 100% a myth. I’ve had nothing but incredibly positive experiences when in France.
That being said, it is very important to know a few key French words when visiting France.
I’ve found that French people are extremely appreciative of you trying to speak a little bit of their language.
Even if you’re not very good at it!
Simple things like knowing how to say hello, good-bye, and thank you in French goes a long way in France.
The more you know the better!
And be polite!
Kindness goes a long way anywhere you go, and that is no different in France.
You have to remember as a traveller that nobody is obligated to speak in their second or third language to accommodate your language skills.
It is a kindness that people do, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.
I’m certainly very grateful when people speak English for me when I’m in their country! I know how privileged I am to be afforded that convenience.
Communication is give and take.
Try your best to throw a little French into the conversation, and I know you’ll have a good experience while in France!
Conquer your fear of solo travel
3. France is Safe for Solo Travellers
One of the first things people who are travelling to France alone Google is whether or not the country is safe for solo travellers.
Especially for solo female travellers.
I’m here to put your nerves at ease and tell you that France is very safe for solo travellers!
I’ve never had an issue travelling alone in France.
You still need to be aware of local scams (pick pocketing can be a major issue in Paris), but you’re no more at risk as a solo traveller than if you were in a group.
If you’re aware of your surroundings and have your wits about you, you should have no issue travelling alone in France!
And if you’re ever in a situation where you start to feel a bit uncomfortable, listen to your gut and turn around.
Or scurry home as quickly as possible if you’re on your way back to your hotel.
You probably won’t feel uncomfortable as a solo traveller in France, and it is a very safe country for tourists.
Just be aware of those pick pocketers and keep your valuables safely stored in your bag and out of reach!
4. But It Can Feel a Bit Sketchy at Night
Okay, okay. I know this kind of goes against my last point, but hear me out.
The only time I’ve felt even the slightest bit uncomfortable alone in France is at night.
I’m not normally one to stay out past dark, but I was coming home from a hockey game and had no choice.
I’m specifically thinking about Paris. The streets are kind of eery to me at night, and I can’t quite place my finger on why.
There isn’t any reason to be afraid or feel sketched out, but I know quite a few people who hate walking outside in the evening in Paris.
Even my dad hates it!
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be out after dark. I just want you to be prepared to maybe have your heart beat a little faster and feel the need to walk a little bit faster.
It isn’t everywhere in France, but I’ve found that some of the larger cities have the same after dark vibe that makes my heart race.
You may have a different experience though!
I just want to give you my experience, so you can be a little bit more prepared if you are out and about at night.
But definitely take the metro to as close to where you’re going as possible!
How to use the Paris metro like a local
5. Buy Your Train Tickets in Advance
Not buying your train tickets in advance is one of the biggest mistakes anybody who visits France can make.
I’ve made the mistake too many times in the past, and my wallet hurts because of it.
Many places in Europe (France included) determine the price of a train ticket around when you purchase your ticket.
The earlier you purchase your ticket, the less expensive it is. Leave buying your ticket until the last minute, your wallet is going to hurt like mine does!
I know not everybody likes to pre-plan their trips (me included!), but you should definitely pre-plan and purchase your train tickets in France.
I’m not talking about the ticket prices going up by a few Euros closer to the day of departure.
I’m talking the price difference could be €50 to €100 more!
I’ve had to not go on a day trip from Paris because I didn’t book my train ticket in advance, and it was too expensive.
Like it was going to be over €300 round-trip for a two-hour train ride each way!
So, learn from my mistakes and book your train tickets early!
I know this isn’t exactly a tip for travelling alone in France, but I need you to know this! It’ll make your France trip go so much smoother and save you a ton of money.
Especially if you’re visiting multiple cities on your trip!
The easiest way to travel from Paris to Lille
6. Don’t Eat Near Tourist Attractions
This tip applies to most cities, but it is especially important when you’re alone in France.
That’s for three main reasons:
- The food is always really expensive
- It also doesn’t taste that good
- They are always really busy, so you’ll feel rushed, which can make eating along awkward
I highly recommend you plan your meals, so you don’t get hungry right after visiting a major tourist attraction.
Easier said that done I know!
I especially recommend this for people who are new to solo travel and still feel a bit awkward eating alone.
Plus you’re in France, so you want to try the best food they offer!
And let me tell you that that food isn’t normally found near the most popular tourist attractions.
Get off the beaten path and find where the locals eat.
That will save you money, and you’re guaranteed to have a better meal!
Tips for eating alone at restaurants
7. Pre-Purchase Tickets to Tourist Attractions
France- especially Paris- is a very popular tourist destination.
It is so busy that there isn’t an off-peak season anymore. You will always run into crowds on your France trip no matter what time of year you visit.
Luckily you can pre-buy tickets to the most popular tourist destinations.
This will save you hours waiting in the stand-by line, which is kind of a waste of time!
Standing in the stand-by line is bad in the best of circumstances, but it is even worse when you’re alone in France.
You don’t have anybody to pass the time with. You’re stuck standing in line alone, and the time seems to drag by painfully slow.
You do not want to go through that experience!
In a lot of instances, you don’t need to buy your tickets too far in advance. I’ve been able to snag a ticket to the Louvre two days before I visited.
That isn’t guaranteed to happen though!
The earlier you can book your ticket, the more likely you are to get the date and time slot you want.
At peak times (like summer and spring break), you probably won’t be able to get a ticket to the most popular tourist attractions if you leave buying a ticket to the last minute.
And the stand-by line is even longer during peak season!
Even if you decide to visit a certain attraction the night before, jump onto their website and see if you can get a ticket for the next day.
It doesn’t hurt to try, and you may just get lucky!
8. Accommodation is Fairly Expensive
You can find inexpensive food and get by without spending a ton of money on tourist attractions, but the price of accommodation in France is going to kill your budget!
Even a bed in a hostel dorm will run you upwards of €50 in the most expensive cities like Paris and Nice.
And there isn’t a way to get around the cost of accommodation.
You need to sleep somewhere!
And preferably not on the street!
It is important to realize that accommodation isn’t cheap before you start your solo trip to France.
As a solo traveller, you’re 100% responsible for every penny spent on your trip, and you want to make sure you have the budget for it before you commit to your trip.
And when you’re alone in France (or anywhere for that matter), you don’t want to cheap out and stay in an unsafe, crappy area.
The good news is that you can often find very affordable Airbnbs in France.
I often find it is cheaper to rent out an entire apartment than it is to book a hotel.
Look into hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs in your desired neighbourhood. Find the right option for you and decide if you have the budget for it.
But please don’t show up in France thinking it is as affordable as its neighbour to the left Spain. It isn’t, and you need to be prepared to level up your accommodation budget while in France.
9. Public Wifi Isn’t Widely Available
It pains me to say this, but public wifi isn’t widely available in France.
You would think for such a financially wealthy country they would have a strong wifi network, but they don’t.
In a lot of cases, even restaurants and cafés don’t offer guests complimentary wifi!
Shocking. I know.
It is super important you have a plan on how you’re going to access the internet while you’re alone in France.
In a lot of cases, you can 100% rely on your hotel wifi and go without internet access while you’re out and about exploring during the day.
However, there are many instances where you need more reliable access to the internet, and that is when you need to come up with a plan.
The two best options are renting pocket wifi or buying your own pocket wifi device (only for the most serious of travellers).
No matter what, you need a plan before you hit the ground in France.
It is super annoying when you need to access the internet for some reason and aren’t able to.
Or when you’re stuck in a super long line because you didn’t pre-buy tickets to the Louvre and now need to kill two hours in line.
No matter what your plan to access the internet is, you’re going to connect to a public wifi network on a regular basis.
Using public wifi puts your online data at risk, and there is nothing worse than having your banking information stolen while you’re on vacation and having to cancel all your bank cards while you’re in France.
No fun at all!
The only way you can protect your online data is by installing a VPN on your devices. It makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home internet where you’re the only person who knows the password!
Tourist’s guide to wifi in France
My Favourite VPN
As you can imagine, I’ve used a ton of different VPNs over my many years of travel.
To be frank, most of them suck.
They slow down your phone to the point where you get frustrated at not being able to use the internet normally, and you turn the VPN off.
Or at least you do if you’re like me and don’t have the patience for slow wifi.
The only VPN I’ve used for years (and will continue to use for years) is NordVPN.
It is the fastest VPN on the market by a mile, which is why I recommend it to you (a fellow solo traveller).
You need to need to need to keep your online data safe when you travel alone.
Having your personal information stolen is 100% worse when you’re a solo traveller. There is nobody else around for you to rely on, and you have to find a solution to a difficult problem all by yourself.
Do you feel more prepared for your solo trip to France now?!
I hope this article gave you some tips and tricks to help you while you’re alone in France!
France is an amazing country, and I highly recommend everybody visit it once in their life.
It is also a very easy country for solo travellers. Even if it is your first solo trip, you’ll be able to navigate travelling alone in France without issues.