A SOLO TRAVELER'S GUIDE TO A WEEKEND IN PARIS // PARIS, FRANCE

Each year, I make my pilgrimage to Paris. Some years it is intentional and others (who am I kidding - it is always intentional). Paris - feels like home to me. While some of it may be cliche, I don’t think you can go wrong with a trip to Paris. Walking along Champ d’elysses and seeing the Eiffel tower never gets old - no matter how many times I visit. I always travel Paris solo; it is one of those cities that is made for every kind of traveller - solo or otherwise. So ! If you have been thinking about a trip to Paris - you don’t have to wait till you can get friends on board; this is a destination you can explore on your own and have an incredible time. To help you plan your Solo trip, I thought I will share an itinerary from one of my trips. I stayed in the Montmartre area which is quickly becoming one of my favorites neighborhoods in Paris. I have stayed here my last three trips. I visited during the week; but this itinerary also works for a weekend getaway (returning late Sunday or early Monday morning).

If you want a more detailed itinerary of Paris - You can find it here

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DAY 1 - Arrival and Dinner at La boîte aux lettres.

I arrived early evening and did not feel like doing much. I took a stroll around the neighborhood to get my bearing and sort out where the nearest train station / bus stop is located ; find the supermarket and pharmacy (because French beauty products). After my usual familiarize myself to the area ritual; it was time for dinner.

Based on my research, La boîte aux lettres was one of the highly recommended restaurants in the area (and the only I could get reservation to with such short notice). Dinner was excellent - do not miss out on dessert - the Oreo Tiramisu incredible. Follow dinner up with a leisure stroll around the neighborhood. Keep an eye out for one of the three remaining original windmills. There are several bars and coffee shops scattered around for a nightcap if you don’t want to call it a night just yet.

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La boite aux lettres

DAY 2. Breakfast at Fragments to start off the day

This is a cash only restaurant in Le Marias serving up incredible brunch options. If you need a quiet place to plan your itinerary or get some work done. This is a perfect spot.

Fragments Paris
Fragments Paris

DAY 2 - Visit Shakespeare and Company.

The iconic bookstore on the left bank is probably the most famous bookstore in the world and known as home to literary greats like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. It gets crowded with fellow tourist at certain times, but if you can find a spot, grab a book from the cart and catch up on some reading (if you have the time). If you are in a hurry - take your pictures and head on to the Notre Dame.

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DAY 2 - Notre dame

The Notre Dame cathedral is one of the most famous cathedrals in France (and the world). Take a stroll around it ; if the queue is not too long; get in line to climb up the tower for incredible views of the city. There are intricate architecture details on the facade and entry way so make sure to look up so you don’t miss it.

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DAY 2 - Visit Sainte-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cite

Admire the beauty of the magnificent glass stained windows. This is said to have been built to receive the crown of thorns of Christ and a piece of the real cross. How incredible is that history ?

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DAY 2- Explore Jardin de Luxembourg.

The lavish gardens and fountains seems like another world. It is located in the 6th arrondissement. If you can pack a picnic - this is a great picnic spot for locals and tourists alike. There is a fountain tucked away that is a great place to rest your feel and enjoy some serenity.

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DAY 2- Visit Maison de Victor Hugo’s

Explore the grounds Victor Hugo’s home. The author of Les Miserables lived here for sixteen years. The structure is now a museum celebrating his life and work. There is a park across the street that is perfect spot to rest up or to reassess your itinerary.

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DAY 2 - Have falafel at L’As Du Falafel in Le Marais and explore Le Marais

These are the best Falafel I have ever had. Be prepared to queue and have cash on hand. Just around the corner is Chez Marianne - the exterior of this famous restaurants is synonymous to this area of the city; Le Marais is another great Paris neighborhood; If you the time - stroll around and discover another area of the city.

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DAY 2 - Relax at Palais-Royal. You know those stripped columns that pop up in all the Paris Instagram feeds ? This is where you find them.

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DAY 2 - Visit the Lourve pyramids

The Lourve pyramids are just as famous as the museum itself. I always visit when I am in Paris; it is great spot for a quick break and people watching. If you want to explore the Lourve , you should plan at least a half day to fully explore the museum. If you don’t have the time - then make sure to visit the courtyards and the pyramids at least.

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DAY 2 - [Window] Shop at Galeries Lafayette

I don’t usually shop when I travel, but I enjoy visiting this department store in Paris. The decor and opulence should not be missed and if you are one who likes to shop while traveling, this stop is a win-win.

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DAY 2 - Dinner at Le Coq Rico

This is another highly recommended restaurant in Montmartre. Make sure you call ahead to reserve a table. If you are traveling solo ask for a chair at the bar - you get a view of the kitchen and can watch the chefs prepare your meal. If you enjoy that sort of thing, then I recommend it. After dinner, take a stroll around the neighborhood; don’t miss Moulin Rouge (at least the exterior facade). You will need to purchase a ticket if you want to see a show.

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DAY 3 - Brunch at Holy Bell

This is an American-esque restaurant with Parisian flair. I highly recommend the pancakes. You will thank me later. There are two locations of this restaurant . Go early to avoid a wait.

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DAY 3 - Visit the Eiffel Tower

It is a symbol of the city and you should not miss it. I recommend seeing it twice - once in day light and once at night when it lights up. If you have got time, you should book a ticket to go to the top of the Tower. Get your tickets online in advance and save yourself time queuing up.

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DAY 3 - Make a stop at the Arc d’ Triomphe

If you have the time and wish to get a great view of Paris or the Eiffel tower; you can get tickets to go the top. Wear comfortable shoes and grab a bottle of water. There are over two hundred steps to get to the top.

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DAY 3 - Visit Place de Vendôme

The Place de Vendome is on the other end of the Avenue from The Arc d’ Triomphe. You can get there either by metro or you can choose to take a leisure trek from the Arc to Place de Vendome. This is one of the most beautiful squares in France. It is flanked by high end stores like Louis Vuitton and five star hotels including the Park Hyatt - Vendome.

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DAY 3 - Sweet Treats at Angelina

Order a dessert and their famous hot chocolate. Don’t worry this is not one those places that automatically assigns the solo diner to the bar. You get a proper table. There will most likely be a line so be prepared to wait. During this visit, the line was incredibly long when I stopped by and I had a tour booked so I left and returned after my tour. They are open till 9 p.m.

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DAY 3 - Relax at the Tulleries Garden

The public garden is a great place to relax from your itinerary; maybe picnic as well. If you to do neither, it is a great stop in Paris and within proximity of the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde.

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DAY 3 - Take a walking tour of one of Parisian neighborhoods

There are several neighborhoods in Paris worth exploring and several walking tour available to choose from. I have always wanted to explore Montmartre. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and has such an incredible history. The tour started at the Blanche train station and ended at Sacre Coeur.

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DAY 3 - The Lourve pyramids at night

Similar to Eiffel tower, the view of the Lourve pyramids at night is completely different to the view in daylight. if you can, I recommend visiting in the evening as well. An alternative is to visit the Eiffel tower in the evening. There is a light show runs every night, every hour on the hour.

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THE NICE CITY GUIDE <> NICE, FRANCE

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Finally! The Nice City guide. Nice (and the French Riviera) remains favorite vacation to date and I cannot stop recommending it to friends and family. Nice is perfectly situated and if you plan your travels well then you get to experience not just the incredible city of Nice but also part of the French Riviera. If you can, I will recommend visiting over a long weekend and if you can spare more - spending up to a week in this part of the world is worth it.

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GETTING THERE. If you are flying from London, British Airways and Easy Jet have flights from London Gatwick. Flights are usually quite affordable. If you are coming from North America or another part of the world; you may have a stopover in London or Paris but it is still fairly easy trip. I lived in America when I visited so I flew into London for a few days before proceeding to Nice.

Le Negresco
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FROM THE AIRPORT. When you arrive at Nice, you have a few options to get into the city. Uber and Taxis are available. You can also take the local bus or the airport express. The Local bust will cost you about 1.50 Euro and one way trip on express will cost you about 6 euros.  I chose the express because you can catch the buses at the terminal and it has fewer stops than the local bus. If you choose the local bus route, then look out for signs for Bus 98. 

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WHERE TO STAY. I stayed in a part of town called Quartier des Musiciens. I chose this part of town because of the proximity to the promenade de angles and it is within walking distance to Old Nice. I will not consider this city center but I did not have to commute more than 20 mins either by bus or on foot to get places so it worked for me. I stayed at Hotel Villa Rivoli which I found via booking.com. It is on a semi-quiet street and the proximity to the Ocean sold me on this place. The hotel is located right behind the famous Negresco. After my visit, I found this review of the property on The Telegraph and I tend to agree with their review. The review does ding the hotel for the lacking restaurant on site but there are so many options around the hotel that I did not find that to be an issue for me. 

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WHERE TO EAT. While compiling this post, I realized most of my favorite spots were in Old Nice. That part of town has got some incredible food options and you can't really go wrong having all your meals here. Two things that were highly recommended to me - Socca and Moule Frites (Mussels and Fries). My favorite Socca was from Chez Theresa in Cours Saleya market. Her stand is open as long as the market is open (usually till about 1 p.m.). If you miss it - she has a restaurant in Old town that is open later. For the best moule frites, Lou Pilha Leva was highly recommended and I was not disappointed. The saffron sauce was yummy. I ate several meals at Emilie cookies - awesome bagels and pastries. For dessert, I always headed to J. Multari - there are a few locations around town. Other food options: Cafe Marche (lunch only) ; Al Taglio (Pizza) ; Nuef-50 (Italian); and La Rossettisserie.   

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Emilie's Cookies

WHERE TO EXPLORE. I could write an entire post on this and I may at some point because the options of things to do in Nice are endless. My favorite thing to do was a quick day trip to other towns in the Riviera. I only made it to four but there are about twenty different day trip options from Nice. My favorite parts of the city were the Old town; Promenade de Anglais and Cimiez hill.

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My Nice morning routine was a stroll along the promenade past monument aux morts; castle hill and port lympia to get to Cours Saleya in Old town. I loved spending time at old town eating socca and exploring the narrow cobblestoned roads of the old town. On one of my wanderings, I stumbled on Lascaris Palace - this hidden gem may not pop up on a lot of Nice itineraries but it was one of my favorite parts of my trip. This post has a guide to everything to see and do in old town. Just on the edge of old town is the oldest square in Nice - place Garibaldi; it is also one of the busiest squares with shopping and eating options and is found right on the edge of old town so it is very accessible. 

Cours Salera
Cours Salera
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Lascaris Palace
Lascaris Palace

I was on the Promenade de Anglais daily and could have spent my entire holiday on the promenade.  One of my favorite spots on the promenade was Palais Massena. I walked past Palais Massena on my to the hotel on my first day in the city and made a note to visit before the end of my trip. The palace/museum hybrid was an afternoon well spent and a recommendation for your Nice itinerary.  For the best view of Nice, head to Castle Hill. It is about 200 step hike but the waterfall and views of the city make the hike worth it.  You can access the hill from Old town Nice place Garibaldi or from the promenade. 

Promenade de anglais
Palais Massena
Palais Massena
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Castle Hill
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Cimiez Hill - My favorite parts were the Musee Matisse; the Roman archaeological site and Franciscan monastery - don't miss the church or the Monastery garden. Before leaving Cimiez hill, stop by The Regina hotel famous for being the "home" of Queen Victoria for part of the 19th century. The garden is spectacular.

Cimiez Hill
Cimiez Hill
Franciscan monastery
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Franciscan monastery

Other favorites - Russian orthodox cathedral; Notre Dame; Musee Renoir; and Marc Chargil museum.

DAY TRIPS. Because Nice is centrally located in the french riviera - a trip to Nice is the perfect opportunity to explore other parts of the Riviera. During our time in Nice - we visited Monaco; Eze; Antibes and Ville Franche Sur Mer. With better planning, we could have fit other stops into our itinerary. Some other options for day trips I looked into - Cannes; St. Tropez; Menton; Cap Ferrat; St. Paul de Vence. All of these locations are with a two-hour bus ride from Nice. Some are under thirty minutes from the city center.

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The best of nice blog was very helpful while planning my trip - check it out here for all things Nice.