Travel: How To Spend A Day Alone In Paris

How To Spend A Day Alone In Paris

October was the month of Paris. I was sent out to the beautiful city of love a second time by Etsy to their European Captain’s Summit as the co-captain of our team of Etsy sellers here in Leeds. I scheduled in an extra day so I could get some sightseeing done so as well as travelling to another country by myself for the first time I had to spend a day alone in Paris.

Before I left for Paris I was worried about the recent attacks on the city and what it was going to be like to go there. I was scared of being in a place where I couldn’t speak the language and scared I would really stand out as being British. I was worried people would think I was stupid because of the recent vote to leave the EU.

None of those things were an issue.

Paris is resilient and aside from a few extra security measures (and some guys with big guns!) you didn’t even realise Paris has suffered so much terror recently – That thought did not once cross my mind while I was wandering around the city and I never felt unsafe.

As it turns out, I remembered some damn good French from my years at school. I made sure I knew how to say “do you speak English?” and was very taken aback when I went for lunch that the answer was “no”. Still I managed to order my lunch, a drink, some water and some coffee in French that I hadn’t practised for 13 years and I asked for the bill in French with a little help from Google. I even spoke to a man about England leaving the EU and helped a homeless man buy a can of coke in (admittedly broken) French. Everyone is so friendly and so appreciative of you speaking their language, even with a really bad accent!

The best part for me was when I was mistaken for actually being French. Twice. The first time a lady asked me for directions on the Metro in French and the second time I overheard a group of Scottish folks saying I was ‘foreign’ until I said “excuse me, cheers!” in my best Yorkshire accent, haha! WIN.

Travelling Paris Alone - Tips & Advice

So my top tips for how to spend a day alone in Paris are:

// Try it. I bet it won’t be as scary as you think it will be. Sure it’s out of your comfort zone, but it will make you feel seriously bad ass. I had one moment when I couldn’t figure out how to get into a supermarket and didn’t know how to ask in French. I really confused the checkout lady!! But for every mistake you make, there will be a little win to build your confidence back up.

// Make sure your phone works abroad. I am on the Three network who provide a Feel At Home service where you can use your allowance in certain countries for free. If you’re not on Three, consider getting a temporary sim card or buying a Euro internet pass from your network. You will almost certainly need to Google where something is or what something means during the day.

// Don’t be afraid to use the metro. You can get a day pass from the ticket machines in every metro station and the instructions are in English. It’s so easy to get around and so much cheaper than getting a taxi. Make sure you download a metro app like Next Stop Paris where you can plan a journey by searching by metro stop or by landmark. I used this so much!!

//Don’t be a neon sign for pick pockets! I felt so much more comfortable trying to blend in. I tried not to dress like a tourist, mostly because there was something about being in Paris that made me want to up my game with outfits. Paris women generally don’t wear heels and carrying a backpack wasn’t unusual either so it was easy not to look like a tourist. I kept my camera in my bag where possible and used my phone instead of a book or map to find out where to go.

// If you’re not confident speaking French, tell people you are English straight away. “Je suis Anglais” (I am English) and “Je parle un petit peu Francais. Parlez-vous Anglais?” (I speak very little French, do you speak English?) were my most used phrases. Even if people didn’t speak English they knew to speak slower and clearer in French or gesture so I could understand.

// Don’t panic. If you get lost or don’t know where something is or how to ask for something, just take a seat and calm down. Take out your phone and look it up or even call someone you love to help you feel at ease. It’s amazing what hearing a friendly voice can do. Above all, make sure someone knows where you are and be responsible. It was dark when I arrived, I was tired and didn’t know the city so I stayed in the hotel and ordered food to my room from a local restaurant.

If I could change anything next time I would spend more time in the beautiful city of love and be more confident trying to speak French. I can’t wait to go back and take Stuart with me, show him my favourite little spots and know where I’m going and how to get around. I wouldn’t think twice about travelling alone again either. It’s a blast!

Loves x xx

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