During a long weekend in Paris, once that I was travelling over for work, I took a looong walk that I wrote down later on my travel journal. It was all scribbled in my usual hieroglyphic style, but after some editing I thought it would be nice to share it with you.
It happened to me often to travel on my own, since I started working I got used, when possible, to stay away especially on weekends to get some free time to explore. For leisure I never really left totally alone for a long journey, just short trips, because as a woman it can be a bit odd at times (although I do know lot of girls that do that quite bravely) or feel awkward and uncomfortable for example that time I stepped alone in a bar at night in Stockholm to listen to some jazz, but the desire to see and go never really stopped me in spending some time on my own in some big cities.
I knew a guy who never ever took a plane on his own -departing solo to go somewhere- before we set up to meet in Amsterdam, and it sounded so surprising for me because even just for work, I had to do this many times to go to meetings: all together I have spent time alone in Dubai as well in Abu Dhabi, in Tokyo, in Lyon, in London, in Naples, In Paris, in Stockholm, In Belgium, in Turkey, in Germany, in Poland, in Budapest, in Switzerland…
If you feel like meeting people and you are not too picky with where you sleep then choose always hostel-type accommodations, you can also book single rooms but still being in a context that will help you to meet other travelers and maybe improvise tours together.
Personally I am not that type, sometimes I can result a bit grumpy when I am on my solo journeys, but that’s because actually I like time on my own, going around observing others, just with my thoughts and my journal, so I am not that open to talk to strangers usually… In Breda I was sitting in a park watching the ducks when this American girl came up to talk to me and we ended up spending the rest of time together at the ginger festival.
What I usually do in these circumstances is to sit down in the hotel and plan a bit my day. Use the free wifi and check the map also on your mobile so that you can spot easily the areas you are interested in, so even when you will be offline they will still be readable (but nowadays with free roaming in the EU countries this is not an issue anymore!). Check as well some food options long the itinerary you are exploring. Check the museums or have a plan B in case of rain and then put on your shoes and go.
Let your feet drive you through the streets, enter the shops and follow the roads that seem more attractive to you. Even if you get lost that’s cool, unless you are at night in a dodgy neighborhood, you can discover some hidden places far from the classic touristy areas. In Turkey on my own for example I felt very safe, I felt men had respect for me, their look were not abusive, their eyes did not feel dirty on me, as opposed to the Emirates where clearly they talked to me because since I was travelling alone they were obliged to but they would have rather talked to a male company I was supposed to have (my father, or my husband, or my brother). You feel much more looked at even though you wear proper clothes, the women too looked at me weird in the suk because I was alone with my camera.
If I find myself for longer period somewhere –like when I moved to a new place and everything felt like a holiday at first- since I didn’t know many people and I needed to explore, I start to make lists of restaurants and activities that I can cross out each time I get the chance to visit. I Keep my ears open to what people talk about on the public transports to know what’s on in town.
To access the googlemap of this itinerary click here:
The Starting point of this walk (you don’t necessarily have to do it all in one day – I am a bit of a binge walker so to say) is at metro stop REPUBLIQUE and of course Place de la Republique itself, which is worth seeing with the statue in the middle of the roundabout.
Walk down in Rue Temple till the end you find Place de la BASTILLE, another major symbol of the French revolution with a high column monument.
Take right into Saint Antonie till PLACE DES VOGES (this square is really pretty, surrounded by art shops and cafes and you can lie down on the grass if it’s spring time for a nap in the sun, with kids playing all around you) where you can enter the area of the MARAIS. This quarter is really trendy for vintage shopping. It has a cool atmosphere, it has a lively gay soul and also encloses the old Jewish quarter. I would suggest even staying in this area. My first time in Paris I had a studio flat in Rue St Gilles which was a real little jewel with a boulangerie down the house and the smell of fresh croissants and pain au chocolat in the morning! Within walking distance there are also a lot of small bistro.
Cross Rue Fouroy e PONT MARIE till you reach St Louis where you can find many little special shops.
There is a creperie for a snack-stop nearby, if you walk down further you can reach the back of NOTRE DAME square from there.
Besides the selfi sticks thrown in your face by the bangle vendors -which can get quite annoying- and the beggars, you can often see musicians playing all around and other street artists also on the bridge that lead to the big ISLE.
Exiting the square in direction ST JAQUES reach JARDINS de LUXEMBOURG and the famous Angelina chocolatier (better in winter for a stop with cakes and other specialties).
From here I suggest a short metro trip till CHATELET where you can go to Les Halles for shopping – very good plan in case it’s raining.
You can now move onto PLACE DE LA CONCORDE, see the ORANGERIE and other relevant monuments and museums. From there walk along the Seine river passing the famous PONT DE L’ALMA to reach TROCADERO GARDENS and see the Eiffel tower (in my opinion from the gardens you get the best view and the best picture setting). The gardens are always populated by students and young people performing, skating or doing parkour or break dance… you can rest and watch some free shows (better to tip them anyway)!
There is another creperie I like in the Grand Boulevards more or less close to the pub o’Sullivan opposite the Virgin store -which are both worth a visit.
…And I think you are ready to go back to the hotel now! Hope you enjoyed!