Posted: Mon Dec 27, 2004 10:29 pm Post subject: Dining Alone in Paris
Hello all. I am a woman in my early 30's who will be traveling to Paris alone in late February to hunt for antique stemware. Having not been to Paris since I was in college (and broke) I am excited to do some serious eating and wine drinking during my visit. However, in doing my research, I have come across several comments suggesting that it is quite uncommon for women to dine alone in the evening. I am generally quite comfortable eating alone in US restaurants and have frequently dined alone in both Italian cities and more rural areas.
I am looking for guidance on this issue. To be clear, I am not contemplating over the top three star dining experiences. So far I have been most attracted to what I would describe as mid-level establishments offering regional cuisine or seasonal menus. To give you an idea, my current list includes restaurants like L'Avant Gout, Au Bon Accueil, Chez Catherine, a la Biche au Bois, etc. Of course, the list is evolving.
My questions are: Would it be odd for me to dine at these types of restaurants alone at night? Would lunch be a better? If so, would it be reasonable for me to eat at casual restaurants or wine bars at night? If so can anyone recommend good ones near my hotel (near the Musee D'Orsay). Sorry to be so verbose, but I find I get better responses with more information.
Thanks in advance!
P.S. If anyone has advice about the main purpose of my visit I'd love that too. I'm looking for french stemware from 1830-40 to go with Old Paris dishes and oversized, French first standard flatware, fiddle thread pattern with the Veillard mark. If you know of sources, let me know.
Joined: 28 Dec 2004 Posts: 2 Location: Washington, DC
Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:44 am Post subject:
I'm in my mid 30's and traveled to Paris on my own over Thanksgiving. I didn't feel uncomfortable or out of place anywhere. I did tend to make lunch my main meal so as to save money so that is when I was in nicer places and hit wine bars and more casual places at dinner.
Several guide books I read also mentioned that a woman alone might get heckled or other unwanted attention from men on the street but that never happened to me nor did I see it happen to anyone else. I suspect that some guide books are written with the more timid traveler in mind. As you have experience in traveling and dining alone, I imagine your demeanor will carry you through anything.
Overall I found Paris to be a marvelous place for the solo traveler. I already want to return. Can't help you with stemware, mine was a photography trip.
Joined: 13 Nov 2004 Posts: 899 Location: Gold Coast Australia
Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:59 am Post subject:
We had a great Mussels and Frites lunch meal at a little place near the Musee D'Orsay. I don't remember the restaurant name but it was on the corner of a little street. Have a great trip. I'm so envious of anyone that goes to Paris. _________________ Barbara
Joined: 18 Oct 2004 Posts: 1654 Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound
Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 5:36 am Post subject:
There is a wonderful French antique shop out in Southhampton that would probably carry the type of item you are looking for. The owner takes buying trips to Paris a few times a year. Next time I am out there I will ask her for suggestions. _________________ "It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."
Joined: 01 Feb 2005 Posts: 7 Location: Chicago, IL
Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 12:12 am Post subject:
I'm very envious of your trip and future purchases!
Two and a half years ago, when I was in my late twenties, I've traveled through Europe - most of it by myself - and I feel like Paris is one of the best places to eat out alone. Choice in restaurant can be a factor - I tended to favor low key and quiet places. And like Karon, I also usually made lunch my main meal - for economic and precautionary reasons. But I very much agree with her assessment -- your demeanor can carry you through anything.
If you ever get to a point where you are tired of going out alone or wish for something very casual, there is an excellent "take-away" place in the Marais (on rue des Rosiers, I believe) that serves items such as falafel, shwarmas, etc. I apologize that I can't remember the name, but I do recall the exterior was painted green and yellow and there is a specific window or desk that you place your order at. In addition to having it recommended, I remembered a large crowd of people (many seemed local) standing and ordering food from this establishment on a very nice, sunny afternoon.
All I have to say is that you've never had a shwarma until you've had one from this place. My mouth is literally watering just reminiscing about it.
Hi Emily, have a great trip and if you do not have the antique market at Clingancourt on your list make sure it is. Don't let all the outdoor tents and stalls with knock offs and things put you off, just get yourself through them to the halls housing the antique stalls and I almost guarantee that amongst all the myriad of things on offer you'll find something you just have to have! _________________ Vivant Linguae Mortuae!!
Joined: 27 Dec 2004 Posts: 200 Location: cambridge, ma.
Posted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:27 pm Post subject:
I'll be there early February and hope I won't have a problem dining alone. I'm going to get away from a sad event. _________________ Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly
Joined: 17 Aug 2005 Posts: 307 Location: Far, far away
Posted: Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:47 pm Post subject:
It sounds as if you already have a lot of reassurance, but I can add that I traveled alone to visit friends in Paris a few years ago, staying a week, and eating most lunches and a couple of dinners by myself. Upon several occasions, I was not the sole solitary diner since people on business trips are not always with clients and colleagues. I was treated very graciously by all but one waiter, and more than once with exceptionial courtesy (given great advice and a few treats, no leering or patronizing attitudes). During the dinners alone, both in places with little space between tables, diners nearby struck up conversations and added to the pleasure of the experience.
Last week I announced my husband that I'm going to spend one week in Paris alone, but really alone. No girl friend, no phones to old friends, no family, no nothing. Just me and Paris. A trip back in time, 30 years ago, when I was a student in Paris. I want to buy my Le monde every day, sit in cafes at odd hours, have my breakfast at 11 o'clock in the morning , "flaner" at my own pace and stay in shops and museums as much as I want, but mostly, having some fabulous lunches/dinners alone. I love eating alone since I was a student in Paris, but I can afford now some better restaurants (cheap greek and cheap chinese were the favourites in the 70').
I agree with Deste, eating alone is not unusual and I have been always treated very well, though I am very problematic with where I like or don't like to sit in a restaurant : never in the midle of the room, only near a window or wall but with a good view of the other tables, not near the kithchen,not near the entrance door, not at a round table... in short, I'm a Pain in the a... concerning the best possible seat in a restaurant. I really can leave a restaurant if I don't like where I'm placed . But I'm looking forward to these gastronomic lonely moments ( I usually have some magazine to read, I like to read while eating alone).
Good luck to all the lucky lonely eaters in Paris!!
Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2005 9:30 am Post subject: dining alone in paris
Oddly enough, I'll be doing exactly the same thing on 24/5th October. Is there something about Paris which makes the company of the city enough? There's a great (out of print) book published by Time Out guides called Paris Walks which is a great assistant flane-ing. _________________ "there is time for work and time for love and there is no more time." Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel
I'm flying to Paris tomorrow by myself, in order to see a live concert and I'll have the chance to spend a long weekend in my favourite city! It's the first time I'm travelling all by myself and although I find it quite exciting, it's also a bit intimidating, especially when it comes to having dinner. I've done the solo lunch many, many times, but dinner... never! So, I was going through Clotilde's blog in order to find some nice restaurants to visit and I came across this subject. Just the thing! I must say that your posts encouraged me and made me think that in reality, one is never alone - there are always other people sharing a similar experience, and in the case of dining alone, it's a pretty liberating one!
Joined: 13 Nov 2004 Posts: 899 Location: Gold Coast Australia
Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:56 am Post subject:
I'm reading The Perfectionist at the moment where it discusses Michelin inspectors dining out. They always dine alone when reviewing restaurants. So dress smart when you dine alone and they may think you are a Michelin inspector. _________________ Barbara
Joined: 13 Sep 2005 Posts: 194 Location: San Diego, CA
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:23 pm Post subject:
I just got back from Paris and had a wonderful meal at a brasserie across from the Metro station (Cardinal Lemoine) in the Latin Quarter. I was starving and picked it because it was convenient, and I saw couples eating dinner there. I think that in general, women don't get harassed or treated rudely when eating alone in Paris. You might get picked up, but this is pretty rare according to my experience. I usually bring a book or look at my metro map to let people know I WANT to be alone. The waiters have always been polite but not chatty, unless they want to practice their English. When evaluating a restaurant for a meal on my own, I always look in to see if there are other single women in there on their own, or if there are couples. I would probably never go into a cafe or bar populated with only men.
By the way, I tried the confit de canard, which Clotilde posted about in the past. It's absolutely wonderful! _________________ "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" --- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
I agree that it is perfectly fine to dine alone in Paris, where any problems for single diners match those in many places, including the U.S., but are no worse and often better. I would like to address your comment about not contemplating an over the top three star experience. That is great if you don't happen to like or be interested in a three star restaurant. However, I would highly recommend three stars for single diners if that is what they really want to do. I was converted to three stars over twenty years ago by a friend who had a Ph.D. in French culture and insisted it was the only way for an outsider to understand an important aspect of the French world view. Over the years I have periodically splurged on a three star, most often dining alone. Many people hate the whole idea and that is fine. I find it a memorable insight into a whole different world and still enjoy it as a very special occasion. The main thing is to do a bit of research and know what to expect, especially now that the prices are truly out of sight. Alas. Happy eating!
Joined: 17 May 2005 Posts: 87 Location: Madison WI
Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 4:49 pm Post subject:
I spent 3 days alone in Paris before meeting up with friends (left husband at home, he was so jealous!) and I mostly ate lunch out and dinner in. But my solo lunch experiences were wonderful, both times I went to small prix fix restaurants on the Ile St Louis and was treated well and had great food!
I mostly chose to have lunch instead of dinner to get over my jet lag. I would have a big lunch, then towards evening after a day of shopping and sightseeing I would grab some bread, cheese, wine, fruit and a dessert
at the local shops and then dine in front of my rented apartment's window overlooking the Louvre. It was a lovely way to ease into the later flurry of
activity when my friends arrived. _________________ "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
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