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Woman eating alone in Paris

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Lisamay Jul 23, 2008 08:00 AM

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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    Oakglen Jul 23, 2008 08:54 AM

    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
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      Lisamay Jul 24, 2008 08:41 AM

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

    2. ChefJune Jul 23, 2008 10:59 AM

      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
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        Lisamay Jul 24, 2008 08:44 AM

        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
          LulusMom Sep 15, 2008 02:16 PM

          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
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            Lisamay Nov 24, 2008 10:40 AM

            thanks for the post, will try Fish

      2. OCAnn Jul 24, 2008 08:52 AM

        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.

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          Bob Loblaw Jul 24, 2008 10:51 AM

          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.

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            Brunella Jul 24, 2008 06:17 PM

            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.

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              chochotte Jul 25, 2008 02:57 PM

              It's an interesting post, this. I would say that, as a Brit who lives and works in Paris I notice a difference in the way that women are treated, compared with back home. This is often a topic of discussion with my many American and British colleagues. So I do think that this would be noticeable by someone arriving in France from either of these countries.

              However, I don't think that there should be any reason not to eat in a café or restaurant in a decent area. I think that, unfortunately, solo diners are often looked at rather strangely all over the world, but hey - that's their problem, not yours, and if you are engrossed in your book and enjoying your meal I hope that the odd curious stare won't put you off an experience that should be all yours to enjoy.

              Any café with a terrasse usually has a few single diners/drinkers there: when you can watch the world go by, there's no need to have a dining companion!

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                papillon0970 Jul 26, 2008 05:29 AM

                I can highly recommend the terrasse of the Hotel Montalembert in the 7th. It is charming, quiet and the restaurant serves wonderful food. The service is very friendly and relaxed.

                1. Karen1440 Jul 26, 2008 01:24 PM

                  I'm probably late with this. I, also, never feel/felt uncomfortable eating in upscale restaurants in Paris, Strasbourg, or Lyon. And I have seen French women eating solo. Smile and well, not stare, but look back. Sicily, however, is another matter.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Karen1440
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                    Lisamay Sep 12, 2008 04:00 PM

                    Hi Karen, just put Strasbourg on our travel list for our trip. Any dining recommendations? I've eaten at several places years ago but don't remember any names and don't remember any as memorable.

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                    Lisamay Aug 6, 2008 08:04 AM

                    Wow, thanks for all the good advice and recommendations. Lisa

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Lisamay
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                      danlind3 May 21, 2010 06:07 PM

                      Although not a woman, I am often solo. So I like to sit at bar like places, and just look around. No need for a book. Atelier de Joel Robuchon is a superior example of this. Enjoy your view, and your meal. Look for good restaurants with a row of stools at a bar and make sure they serve food there, and enjoy. Again, I don't know if this sends signals, but I can't imagine a freer, more enjoyable, unconstrained by the book - prop experience.

                      Also, who cares? Enjoy, where ever you are sitting!!

                      1. re: danlind3
                        Parigi May 22, 2010 01:28 AM

                        I second Atelier de Joel Robuchon, which is where I like to go when alone. In fact all counter dining is good. Seated at a counter, it is easy to talk to neighbors and is fun for watching the "action".
                        Am trying to think odf other restos with a nice counter, but my hungover brain this morning is slowed to a halt.
                        Another good lone dining option is the Hidden Kitchen.

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