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Solo dining in Paris

I wanted to get a little input from people on dining alone in restaurants in Paris. I've tried to get people to come with me on a week long trip in May, but no one is biting (I just don't get it ). I don't want this to affect my eating plans, but want to make sure that I'm not going to be out of place at places like Chez 'l ami Jean, Cafe Jadis, etc.

I know eating in France is a very social event and while I might miss some of this, I don't want it to hinder where I eat. Are there any other suggestions on this? Is this common in Paris?

Any input is much appreciated.

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  1. I went to Paris by myself in the fall - same deal, couldn't get anyone to come along with me (maybe Bostonians in general are just lame and don't like going on awesome trips...that's my theory?). I was apprehensive at first given that I'm a twentysomething female and thus probably not included in the "people you see dining alone and don't feel sorry for" category, but I ate in an assortment of restaurants from pristine white-tablecloth establishments to casual bistros and never once felt uncomfortable. In fact, quite the opposite - most places I went I was doted upon. Furthermore I often noticed other solo diners wherever I went...so I don't think this is at all an uncommon occurrence.

    1. You will have no problems. I used to work in Paris about 3 weeks a year, always went alone, ate at all levels, 3 stars down, never a problem. This should be the very last thing you worry about

      1. I echo the sentiments of the other two posters.

        However, there are quite a number of discussions on this subject in this forum. You might enjoy doing a bit of a search.

        1. I notice you plan to dine at "Cafe Jadis" I suspect you really want to eat at the hot new bistro called Jadis (208, Rue Croix Nivert) - it is the one getting all the great reviews.

          Be careful because there is a restaurant called "Caffe Jadis" which was visited by lonelyarethebrave - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6105.... I am not certain if they got mixed up and thought this was "Jadis" or whether it is simply coincidence.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PhilD

            I have had absolutely no problem eating as a singl at the best restaurants in Paris. Kind of surprising since I barely speak French. I have had enjoyable interactions with waiters, captains, and restaurant managers, as well as chefs, especially with Passard at Arpege.

          2. I have been in Paris several times on my own and typically will make lunch my main meal of the day and feel extremely comfortable dining alone. I admit, I feel most comfortable doing so at lunch in the finer dining establishments. I have found that as a single woman I am often shown to a nice table that would provide me a view of the dining room and/or window which leads me to believe the host/hostess is being very accomodative to my dining solo. I do not get the same treatment in the U.S. One thing I'd like to add about dining alone in Paris - spend your time people watching, soaking in the atmosphere and savoring the food. Try to avoid having your nose in technology for any extended period (just my opinion!).

            9 Replies
            1. re: vlfrance

              <having your nose in technology for any extended period (just my opinion!).>

              actually, it's not just your opinion. It is considered extremely rude, even when you are dining alone.

              1. re: ChefJune

                i am curious on this point as I will be alone for a couple of days later this month before my Husband joins me ( restaurant list to follow soon) ...is it ok to read a book but not to read a blackberry or respond to a text message? I know better than to use the cell phone feature.

                1. re: capeanne

                  Like capeann, I am curious about this. When traveling and dining solo, I usually like to jot down what I'm drinking, what I'm eating, what spices/herbs/whathaveyou I think are in the dish. I don't spend my whole dinner doing this, of course I gape at the people around me as well, but...

                  In the past I have used a small notebook but had been contemplating using an iTouch for my next visit. No way?

                  1. re: Leely2

                    I carried around a small notebook and generally wrote in it before I was served and between courses. It never really occurred to me that this might be considered rude, but I never sensed any disapproval from servers or neighbors about it. If anything, people were interested in what I was writing.

                  2. re: capeanne

                    In a cafe or casual restaurant no one will even notice. I was in Paris last year and saw lots of Parisians plugging in their laptops and surfing the net, reading and sending emails, typing, etc.

                    1. re: carolinadawg

                      I'm another one who LOVES dining alone in Paris, from 3 stars to the corner cafe. Have always felt comfortable. A short, discrete use of an electronic device would be acceptable, but I would strongly recommend against burying your nose in a book. If you pay attention to the room and subtly watch (and listen) to the other diners, you'll get more attention from the staff (and maybe something on the house), and you'll probably wind up talking to some of the other diners before the meal is over (yes, even in 3 stars).

                  3. re: ChefJune

                    I was just in Paris for a long weekend and saw many locals and tourists on their laptops, blackberrys..
                    Had several business meetings at Crillon and we all were 'plugged in'.

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      I suspect the comment relates to dining i.e. sitting at a restaurant table having a meal.

                      Certainly lots of people will use phones, laptops etc in cafes and bars, after al it is very pleasant to sit in the sun doing a little work and relaxing over a coffee. However, to me, it does seem rude doing this in a restaurant over dinner.

                      Were you really "plugged in" in the restaurant or were you simply sitting in the lobby/bar with a coffee /drink meeting colleagues?

                      1. re: PhilD

                        we were plugged in at the lobby/bar..I do agree that in a restaurant, that would be rude...some did pull out the blackberrys during dinner but briefly and discretely.

                2. BeanTownGolfer: I, like you and reneemarie, had to go to Paris alone but it was wonderful! What I did was find a short language class in the summer and went for 3 weeks. I had class during the day and went out evenings with my other classmates. I had instant friends, at least for the duration of the trip. For a week long vacation I suggest you attend a cooking class given by Patricia Wells. Her website is PatriciaWells.com. You could probably meet some other single travelers and have someone to dine with in the evenings. Seems like we single girls should band together and travel the world - together!

                  1. BeanTown, you may want to skip the cooking school. Classes are booked for this year and I just looked at the PRICES. What she is asking for a week I spent on three weeks for lodging, lunch 5 days a week plus language classes. I don't know about you but my pockets don't run that deep.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: midwesterner

                      Do you know of any wine schools in Paris? The justification to myself, if I need one, for this trip is to get some ideas for opening a restaurant in Chicago. I'm also thinking along the lines of a wine shop so I'd like to get some more experience with the wine outside of what I've been able to find in Boston. I've been reading the Judgement of Paris about the 1976 blind taste test between California wines and French wines. Does anyone know if L'Academie du Vin is still around or something similar? If no one sees, this I'll probably create another post about wine schools.

                      1. re: BeanTownGolfer

                        L'Academie du Vin is NOT around, but I do know of a knowledgeable young sommelier/educator in Paris, Olivier Magny www.o-chateau.com. I have taken a class with him and he is amiable, as well, and speaks and understands English very well. Mark Williamson of Willi's Wine Bar, a Brit who has long lived in Paris is very knowledgeable, as well, and loves to share.

                        1. re: BeanTownGolfer

                          L'Ecole de dégustation gets very high marks for wine classes from Le Figaroscope. In fact, am planning on signing up for their introductory course in June. It's three weeks, but they also offer 1-evening tastings. Only in French (but maybe you speak French).
                          www.ecolededegustation.fr

                          The Cordon Bleu also offers a 4-week wine seminar.

                      2. Beantown, when are you going to be in Paris?
                        RosieCaro

                        1. Buddha Bar behind the Hotel de Crillon. Great Bar, Great Music, Great atmosphere if you want to make friends----

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: bombayduck

                              Buddha Bar has fallen a long way from it's fashionable position as a hot bar/restaurant - was that 10 years ago? It is now well established on the corporate scene with lots of suits entertaining guests. How you like it will depend a lot on your personal style. Drinks are expensive, and the food doesn't have a good reputation (I only drank).

                              It has also developed into a global franchise (like Hard Rocke Cafe) with Buddha Bars in 10 cities including London, NYC, Dubai, Kiev, and Dublin. They have eve downsized the concept into "little Budddha Cafes" in places like Las Vegas, Viena and Amsterdam. In total the Buddha Bar brand (George V Restauration) now has 75 outlets across the world. Clearly a very successful strategy - maybe a visit to see where it all started is worthwhile.

                            2. i have to disagree. i'm planning a short solo trip to paris to practice my french and i can't help but remember how uncomfortable i was the last time i went to paris alone, about two years ago. i went to great places, had wonderful meals, but mostly felt stared at everywhere i went. i am a modern stylish woman who has travelled the world alone but paris is the one place i never saw another solo diner--for some reason, the french seem to always be in pairs or with their families. of course, i didn't let it stop me, i put on a brave face, whipped out my passable french and ate up a storm. but, it was not easy.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: jrnlmkr

                                I had 2 great solo meals 2 weeks ago at Fontaine de Mars and La Clarisse in the 7th and have dined alone very comfortably at La Chiberta . Agreed there aren't as many solo diners as I often see in NYC or Chicago or SF if I am traveling on business but I was literally fawned over and never felt stared at . And I too am female with barely passable ( but I try very very hard) French..

                                1. re: capeanne

                                  I have to second that La Fontaine de Mars is truly a great destination for a (modern, stylish, female) solo diner. To say that I was fawned over there is an understatement - to the point that after dinner various waiters kept bringing me unsolicited additional espressos to keep me from leaving!

                                  Really though, while I certainly understand the feeling of being stared at, I think often it's more self-consciousness than anything. I mean, how interesting can a woman dining alone really be?

                                2. re: jrnlmkr

                                  Sounds like your schedule is going to be flexible? Here are a couple of thoughts from another female who has spent a lot of time in France. When I am there alone, I have found more solo diners at lunch than at dinner. Since I am often coming from California, it also works better for me to have a more elaborate lunch than dinner, at least for the first few days when I am dealing with jet lag.

                                  Many of my French friends don't tend to go out to dinner in restaurants as often as they have or go to dinners at homes. Dining out is more of a special occasion, thus in couples or groups.

                                  Another general observation- people are more comfortable staring at others in France. It takes getting used to, but then becomes sort of fun to do the same.

                                  1. re: souvenir

                                    First, I would also highly recommend La Fontaine de Mars. I had one of my first meals in Paris there in 1983 and still remember it fondly. I last ate there two years ago and thought the meal excellent. I have had 95% of meals as a solo in Paris without any problems and I speak absolutely no French except the basics of hello, thank you, the food is good, etc.