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Friday, June 20, 2014

The Benefits and Safety Factors When Sightseeing in Paris Alone

Paris is a prime destination on the travel wish lists for many people. While writing about Paris these past two weeks several readers shared their fears with me that they may never visit the City of Light because they have no one to go with. My advice is “Go Alone.” I can almost hear the shocked responses already. Most will probably fall along the lines of “Easy for you to say….” I’ll let you in on a little secret, all of the Parisian experiences that I have written about these past few weeks I did….ALONE. And, I loved it.

(My French adventures with my cousin will begin this next week when we head to…Monet’s Garden.)

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Paris is beautiful and wonderful but be forewarned that the popular sight seeing spots are generally crowded by mid morning continuing on until early evening. I often find that the magical hours in Paris occur in the early morning. There still is enough hustle and bustle, as people prepare for the day, that you feel safe. It is the perfect time to capture photos without a million other people in them. 

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As the shop owners hose down their sidewalks there are special moments you will encounter and possibly capture only as an early riser such as these Jewish men heading to temple.

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The locals are fresh from a good nights sleep and are happy to provide directions, offer helpful hints or play a song just for you.

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When traveling alone in Paris a more intimate experience can be had. Instead of being distracted by group conversation you see little things that perhaps you might not otherwise notice. A good example is this door handle on a restaurant I was walking past. A glimmer caught my eye and I stopped. After a closer inspection I found that it was created by soldering copper pot lids together. The French are so clever. I’m so happy to have not missed such delight.

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A huge benefit of traveling in Paris alone is that a chair for one (table or concert seat) is often quite easy to find.

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Yes, I also dine alone. I normally have a guide book to read, photos to review on my camera or notes to jot down which keep me occupied and not looking forlorn at the table. On one occasion, while having a bit of afternoon tea, my darling waiter said “Vous êtes un écrivain! (You are a writer!)”  “Oui (Yes)” I replied. Our delightful conversation continued in a mix of French and English.

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He wanted to know what I wrote and I explained that I was an interior designer who loved to travel and often shared my adventures on a blog. He then said, “You must come upstairs with me. They just refurbished the private dining space.” I can say for certain that this opportunity would not have happened if I had had a table mate. I could tell you of many more similar experiences that I have had over the years. But please know that being by oneself opens doors to magical experiences you might not otherwise have.

(I now am desperate for peacock walls enhanced with fabric trim paired with leopard carpeting!)

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But of course there are doors you should not enter. Safety is always first. There was no danger present in the situation above. But one must always be aware of their surroundings. I try to return to my hotel or rented apartment before the sun sets in the evening. As my days start early, and there is generally quite a bit of walking involved, this is not a sacrifice. If I do go out for a evening meal I travel to a well lit location close by or hire a taxi to take me door to door.

I mentioned before in my packing post that I prefer to use a cross body bag that zips closed. Thieves prefer flaps and buttons as access is easier. I also keep my bag in front of me when riding on the subway or walking through crowds. This photo was taken by an American couple that first asked if I would take their photo and entrusted me with their expensive camera. Weighing the situation, (they had a small child in a stroller, so probably would not outrun me :) I felt confident to do the same.

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There was only one occasion that I felt uncomfortable during my latest visit to Paris. The gypsies are famous for working in pairs. While one distracts you by asking a question another will swoop in and lift your wallet. They use different guises such as asking you if you have lost something, perhaps while holding out an expensive watch. In my case I was admiring the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and was approached by a women with a clipboard wanting to ask me questions. Each situation can seem innocent enough if you aren’t paying attention. I caught the eye of a man close by who instantly made me wary. I told her “No, thank you” and began to walk away. She re approached me a bit more aggressively and I looked her in the eye and VERY firmly said “No!” Both individuals immediately moved on. Even though I’m small they knew I meant business.

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Keeping safety in mind, seeing Paris by yourself can be bliss. The opportunity affords you time to smell whatever roses you wish.

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So what are you waiting for?


This post is part of the ongoing Décor To Adore Summer Travel Series 2014. You can find all of the posts located on the sidebar of the blog under the June archives.

Linking to:

Between Naps On The Porch, Classy Clutter, A Stroll Thru Life, Not Just A HousewifeA Bowl Full of Lemons, We Are That Family,Someday Crafts,The 36th Avenue, Ivy and Elephants, Savvy Southern Style, Katherine’s Corner, Posed Perfection,Craftberry Bush, Stonegable, Jennifer Rizzo, Country Cottage, The Shabby Nest, Imparting Grace,My Romantic Home,The Charm of Home,Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,The Dedicated House


Auntie Em said...

Very good advice even if traveling with companion(s). It's nice if you are with someone else to have some alone time to see what you want to see which another may not want to. Like you wrote, you often notice things you might walk past or miss out on taking the time to speak to local people if you are trying to keep up or distracted by chatter.
Besides, it can ruin a good friendship to travel with some folk! :)
BTW, LOVE that door handle! Many generations to come will still be opening that door with it.

Curtains in My Tree said...

Thanks for sharing, your one smart gal traveling alone
I liked the leopard flooring also since I have it in my home office area
Loved all your pictures

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

Very good travel advice. I even go a step farther and wear my cross body purse underneath my jacket or sweater. I am so enjoying your post on the trip!

Vel Criste said...

These are all invaluable Laura and for sure would keep in mind. I also heard on NPR that the Louvre is notorious for pick-pockets everywhere! So when I got there I'd be sure not to bring much with me. :-)

Vel Criste said...

Agree with that great tip Pat! Harder for thieves to pry that away from you underneath your jacket.

Decor To Adore said...

Great tip Pat! Yes Vel, but it's not just the Louvre, the pick-pockets frequent all tourist spots.

Lorrie said...

Hey! I'm able to comment on your post! Whatever you've done, it's working!
I always travel with my husband as he enjoys it, too. But we do spend time apart, going for walks or different museums. I enjoy both aspects - alone and together. Keeping your wits about you is key.

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Another great post and I love seeing all of your wonderful pics. I had a ball today, thanks for a really fun time.

ellen b. said...

Great tips. When I travel with my husband on his business trips I'm alone most of the day until his conference booth obligations are done. I was always on alert for pick pockets in Italy. The ones that tried to reach into my purse got their hand slapped. The young people worked in groups of 3. 2 would block the entrance to the subway and cause you to have to go to one side of them and then they'd jump on with you and in the distraction reach for your purse/wallet. When I yelled at them and smacked their hand they hopped off the subway before the doors closed. Tricky tricksters... Your food and experiences look amazing!

Rita C. said...

Laura! I'm able to post a comment directly again today! You are so brave - I'm not sure I could that alone. I don't know the language well enough to even do half & half. Another excellent post - the photo of the upstairs dining hall, the door handle and the cat on the windowsill - so French! J'adore!

Junkchiccottage said...

I just found you from Marty's blog. What a wonderful blog and what a great trip. Love going along with you as you show pics of your trip.

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

Laura, found you from Marty's blog too - I am your newest follower. GREAT France visit - thank you for sharing it in such detail. I spent a glorious month in a French tour in the mid 90s and I hope to go back again one day. Your posts have certainly made me WANT to, that's for sure!

Karen said...

Thank you for your interesting and beautiful pictures. I enjoy "traveling" with you.

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

I love those turquoise walls. It is one of my favorite colors. I had a similar sample on my wall last week, but decided I didn't care for it with the shade of dark wood I had and the lighting. :( But I'm happy anyway. Thanks for the gypsy tip. I need to go review the packing and purse.