Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Feb 20, 2011 06:10 PM

Dining alone in Paris

I'm traveling alone to Paris in May. I'm female, a Northern Calif. foodie and a modern, stylish senior citizen. Will restaurants be reluctant to accommodate a lone diner? Any suggestions of places to go? I'm staying in the 5th but don't mind traveling for a good meal. I would prefer places that serve good food to the locals. I like trendy but am bored with the "French Laundry" type experience. Money not a concern but value is.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. "Will restaurants be reluctant to accommodate a lone diner?"


    "Any suggestions of places to go? ... I would prefer places that serve good food to the locals. I like trendy but am bored with the "French Laundry" type experience."

    Not knowing whether you tend toward tradtional or modern cuisine, may I recommend a "time-machine" resto where I enjoyed myself immensely recently - Quincy.
    It serves the kind of traditional fare, in the kind of old-fashioned setting, that seems to be disappearing. The place did not have a single American, or even non-French, except the 2 of us. We looked so odd there that dear old Bobosse came over to talk to us for a long time. My friend and I had escargots as starts, then I had frog legs and he had tête de veau. It's that kind of resto. Around us was an older couple from Nîmes who come up to "la capitale" once a year and has made the resto their traditional pre-return dinner. There two Frenchmen who now live in LA, who were near tears telling Bobosse that they couldn't find that kind of saussison and that kind of soigé old-fashioned French food in LA.
    When it comes to eating, I like modern and I like traditional. But as we were enjoying the evening, we couldn'nt help but think that that kind of eatery would not be around in a few years - at least not in Paris. Actually I had meant to write a post on "time machines" kind of spots in Paris and the rest of France.
    Lastly my friend who does not speak a word of French has made Quincy his cantine where he went back everyday, solo. Looks a though Bobosse were about to adopt him formally. Every time he went, both the resto and fellow diners insisted that he try something he had not ordered, and he promised himself he had to go back to order whatever that was.

    8 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        I share your positive feelings toward Le Quincy; but the last time we were there they didn't take credit cards. Has that policy changed?

        1. re: Oakglen

          I don't remember. Was in a cloud and was invited.

          1. re: Oakglen

            Hasn't changed, probabaly won't.

          2. re: Parigi

            <"Will restaurants be reluctant to accommodate a lone diner?"


            ???? Parigi, I respectfully disagree wholeheartedly. I have traveled throughout France solo and have never been discriminated against. In fact, at first I was astounded that I was not stuffed behind the kitchen door and ignored by waiters .

            And although there are many restaurants I like well enough to dine at multiple times, I would be bored silly to go back to the same place day after day. And WHY would anyone feel the need to do that? There are so many lovely places to dine in Paris, and around France where EVEN a single Senior citizen is made to feel as welcome as if she were the Queen of England?

            I hope you haven't scared the OP from making whatever reservations he/she would like for the visit.

            1. re: ChefJune

              Note that, except for counter seating, a single diner does cost a restaurant the paired seat's revenue. At peak hours and season some restaurants may be reluctant to accept a reservation for a single.

              But as CJ concludes, if the restaurant is willing to accept the reservation, one should expect equal or better reception and service than tables for doubles, et al.

              1. re: ChefJune

                Cher Chef,
                I respectfully disagree too -- with me !
                I had meant to say no instead of yes to the question "Will restaurants be reluctant to accommodate a lone diner?".
                All my fault, with my deranged old age. The rest of my reply all said the contrary, I mean contrary to the "yes" reply. Now my head is spinning.

                1. re: Parigi

                  Oh la head is spinning as well. However, again, my thanks to all of you for the thoughtful advice and suggestions. I am certainly not "afraid/scared" and am looking forward to my eating experience in Paris.

            2. I traveled through Paris two years ago alone and didn't have any problems. Granted, I was a mid 20s male. I'm used to traveling along and eating along, so I had no problems with it. I made sure to make reservations ahead of time (my hotel helped with the list).

              I tried to go for a mix of everything and had a fantastic eating experience.

              Some of the restaurants I went to were:
              Dinner -
              Le Regalade - fantastic foie gras soup and everything was super fresh especially the vegetables. I went during the height of white asparagus season and they were fantastic along with the sauces. Pork bell was fantastic as well. I sat next to american girl dining along as well (similar age), but didn't find out until dessert she was american.
              Le Chateaubriand - Honestly, I wasn't super impressed. It was good by all means, but just didn't live up to my expectations. Not as nouvelle cuisine as I was hoping for.
              Chez l'ami Jean - All around delicious and would kill to go back for the rice pudding. Was always turned off by it in the states, but ate the whole bowl myself.
              A small place in the first on a Sunday night. Didn't have a reservation but had a good menu and came with a half bottle of wine. Nothing stellar, but very well cooked food. Wish I could remember the name since it was tough to find a place open on Sunday.
              Hidden Kitchen - Fantastic. The day I landed and was a bit tired, but even being there by myself at a table with 15 strangers. You bond of love of food and wine. They are usually booked months in advance, but if you can get on the wait list and get a call, you certainly won't regret it.

              Lunch -
              Itineries - Towards the end of my trip and I was able to make it through "speaking" only french. Great seafood and a good cheese plate if I remember correctly.
              Pierre Gagnaire - Great lunch. Would definitely go back. As you'd expect from a talented chef who creates his own boundries.
              Au Pied au Cochon - Fresh oysters and french onion soup. Probably the most touristy place, but I had to go.

              I guess I'd say that if you don't act like a tourist, you'll be fine. Most of my dinner reservations were made around 8 or 8:30. Certainly not early where I was eating alone, but still somewhat early where they could fill my table after I left after an hour and a half or two hours.

              1. solo: been before? or is it a little scary?

                don't be scared if it is. one of my comfiest meals ever was at the Hotel Cardinal LeMoine on the Left Bank (reasonable rooms for a college student), nothing to write home about, just a great staff and French food in the most soothing way.

                and as a stylish senior, don't hesitate to wear sunglasses 24-7. always be turned out in as best as you can, yet sweet and correct.. if you can still pull off spike heels, do so. but if whatever you wear looks considered you'll get props. shoot for Joan Rivers wears Donatella Versace, but orders like Julia Child (and drinks like Tallulah Bankhead) and you will be loved (assuming s'il vous plait follows every screamed demand)

                6 Replies
                1. re: hill food

                  "shoot for Joan Rivers wears Donatella Versac"

                  Whoa, they are not considered stylish around here. Esp Donatella, who was called la mamie de Barbie (Barbie's granny) on tv. Try the Jill Sanders look plutôt.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    We'll I'm certainly not Barbie's granny! Guess I'll stick to my basic black.

                    1. re: solotraveler

                      I'll defer to your eye Parigi (and bad me suggesting an Italian designer, but I thought Jil Sander was German) better yet just look up Sao Schlumberger, invite yourself over and swipe a few things, she'll never notice (is she still with us?)

                      but basic black is never wrong.

                      1. re: hill food

                        Jil Sander is German...but what does fashion have to do with eating alone? solotraveler will dress how she dresses...

                        1. re: kerosundae

                          "what does fashion have to do with eating alone?"

                          Kindly read upthread.

                          1. re: kerosundae

                            it's about feeling fabulous and self-confident and possessing a certain f you and don't treat me different for eating solo kind of attitude.

                  2. Le Grand Vefour, Chez Denise, and the above mentioned Quincy make you feel welcome as a single and take better care of you as they feel you need a little friendship.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I've never felt uncomfortable as a solo diner during many meals in France, from three star down to hole-in-the-wall.

                      I agree with all the praise for Le Quincy. It's on borrowed time, and, as was the much-lamented La Grille, something to savour while it lasts.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rswatkins

                        why is it on borrowed time?? did they lose their place to a supermarket? btw, seurre was still open as of last week.

                        1. re: kerosundae

                          "why is it on borrowed time??"

                          Means that kind of cooking is out of style in general, and that kind of eateries are harder and harder to find, esp in Paris.

                          Seurre is closed now.