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Jul 23, 2008 08:00 AM

Woman eating alone in Paris

I am traveling to Paris with my husband but we usually split up during the day to do our own things then meet up for dinner. Last time I was in Paris, I was there alone and found it very uncomfortable eating in a nicer restaurant Ex: La Bastide d'Odeon at dinner. I was stared at constantly.) Ditto for cafe bars in the morning, I'm not sure I saw a single woman in a cafe bar. Most of my single meals will be lunch and i would love to be able to enjoy some of the starred restaurants but am afraid it will be uncomfortable. Any suggestions for places with outdoor seating with fabulous food where I can at least read a book . I have eaten alone in several of the museum cafes and been perfectly comfortable, also le petit déjeuner in my hotel breakfast room was fine.

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  1. Le Castiglione, on St. Honore, has a fine kitchen; we see a lot of locals, many single, sitting at the small tables in the bar, at the bar or at the outside tables. You shouldn't have a problem in those areas where there are a lot of offices; the right bank primarily, and parts of the 7th. At Cafe Constant, I sat shoulder-to-shoulder with an elegant lady and her escort, a black terrier. No one looked twice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Oakglen

      Thanks so much for the advice. The restaurant suggestions you made are very helpful.

    2. You must be shier than I am (and I am shy.) I have never felt uncomfortable dining alone in Paris or anywhere else in France, for that matter. The wait staff always makes me (and other single diners I have observed) feel welcome, and often diners at nearby tables initiate conversation. Especially when they hear my American-accent French!

      Wine bars are great places to go alone, tho, because so many other go solo to those places, and you can hop on a bar stool and have a fine lunch and talk with your neighbors. I've made a couple of lifelong friends that way!

      3 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        Perhaps then, it is because my Fench is so pathetic, though I do try to say the basics. Thank you for the suggestion regarding the wine bars, I believe Patricia Wells has a long list of them in her Food Lover's Guide to Paris.

        1. re: Lisamay

          My French is pathetic too, very very bad. But I try, and that tends to help. That said, I've eaten in Paris many times on my own and never had a problem. Agree that wine bars are great places to go. I had a great meal at the bar at Fish. The people working there are from New Zealand, so no language issues, the food was very good, and everyone who sat next to me was friendly.

          1. re: LulusMom

            thanks for the post, will try Fish

      2. How about being sneaky and following your husband (without his knowledge) and see where he eats? Try eating in the same restaurant; you'll be busy observing him & what he eats that you'll forget about being uncomfortable. Maybe you can surprise him by buying him a drink and inviting him over to your table @ the end of the meal...and then pretend to have a rendezvous w/a complete stranger.

        1. one thing to keep in mind - eating outdoors can be really smoky. the odd result of banning cigarettes inside the restaurants.
          in general, you'll be able to tell when you see a place how it'll be - if there are others eating by themselves, you should be fine.

          1. I find solo dining abroad very liberating and empowering, although this is something I would rarely if ever do at home. You are saying "I am strong, confident and not afraid to eat in public by myself." If people watch me, I just watch them back. I mean its not like you are ever going to see them again. If people are staring just shine them on. They are the one with the problem clearly, not you. If you act all self concious about it they'll just feel sorry for you and thats not what you're going for. Oooze confidence.