Ah, Paris. The most romantic city on Earth. But what if you want visit Paris alone? Is it safe? Is it boring? Will you be sad? What can you do in Paris alone at night?
Paris is in fact one of the best places to travel solo. There’s just so much to do there, you will never get bored. There are beautiful things (and people) to see in every neighbourhood, delicious things to eat on every corner and a joie de vivre that will lift your spirit.
If you’re under 24, it’s even better, as there are many discounts to make this expensive city more affordable, so don’t put this trip off until you’re older it will only cost more!
Want to skip right to the list of things to do in Paris alone at night?
- 1. Climb the Eiffel Tower
- 2. Cruise on the Seine
- 3. Take a Free Guided Walking Tour
- 4. Go See a Movie
- 5. A Night at the Museum
- 6. Browse for a Good Book
- 7. People Watch in a Café
- 8. Take Yourself to Dinner
- 9. Try Some Absinthe
- 10. Relax in a Hammam
- 11. Attend the Ballet
- 12. Shop for Something Chic
- 13. Go for Ice Cream
- 14. Stay in!
I once spent three weeks alone in Paris. I barely talked to anyone, just wandered the streets, explored the cemeteries, geeked out at art museums and generally did whatever I wanted. (Which on at least one day was look at hundreds of pairs of shoes then not buy any.)
Travelling alone in Paris means never being rushed, never wrecking a gorgeous view with an argument, and always getting the last macaron.
Paris at night is especially magic. The glittering Eiffel Tower reflecting on the Seine dazzles every time. And you’d be missing out not to venture out to discover all Paris has to offer after sundown.
But is Paris safe at night for a solo traveller?
Like every major city, Paris has its share of tourist scams and violent crime that can affect visitors. But I’ve always felt relatively safe there. In general, I prefer walking at night over taking the Metro. There are always people around while some Metro stations have long underground walks from the street to the train platforms that are sometimes empty which can make me feel anxious.
A note about Uber rides in Paris – because there are so many one-way streets, or narrow streets off-limits to private cars, your driver may not be able to come pick you up exactly where you are. When you request a ride, it asks you to “choose a pick-up spot” and shows you an area to choose from. We don’t have this in Toronto and I was quite confused at first why my driver was always a block or two away. I on’t like to choose a spot when I don’t know the neighbourhood and will have to walk there alone. In this case, better to wait for a taxi to drive by or have the establishment call you a taxi.
The biggest problem for tourists is pickpockets. Be on guard in crowded spots, and never leave your purse on the back of your chair or under the table — on your lap or where you can see it always.
Young women, sadly, can expect to get catcalled when walking alone in the club districts or where young drunk men congregate. As in most places, ignore them and keep your distance.
Paris has a significant police presence near major tourist sites, and you may see armed military patrols. In case of emergency, dial “17” for police.
What if you don’t speak French?
Ah. Yes. There’s no nice way to say this but the French are snobs about language. Even my French-Canadian accent is not French enough there and I often encounter rude waiters because of it. But do not let this stop you from visiting!
It’s always a good idea to learn a few simple phrases in the local language when you travel, and Paris is no exception. But millions of non-French speakers come here each year and most locals in the main tourist businesses will speak some English and menus are often in translated in English too. My list of things to do alone in Paris at night focuses on things you can do as a non-French speaker.
Can you do these things with your friends, as a couple or a family? Bien sûr! But I’ve selected activities that are especially good for solo travellers in Paris because they are affordable (heaven knows you’re spending enough on accommodations in Europe as a single traveller), generally safe, and where you won’t be the only single person surrounded by canoodling couples!
1. Climb the Eiffel Tower
You do not need a date or a dime to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Just look up! But there’s something Extra about actually going up the Eiffel Tower.
Like, you want to feel on top of the world? This is the place. Granted, getting tickets and lining up is such a rigmarole that it’s probably best done alone so as not to start any fights. It’s also a special thing to do at night to really appreciate why they call Paris “The City of Lights.”
You have two options: To the second floor, or to the very top. Tickets to the top do sell out. They cost 28.30Euro (14.10 if you’re under 24) and go on sale 60 days in advance. If you want to do this, plan ahead. Tickets for a lift to the second floor cost a bit less at 18.10Euro (9Euro for under 24). If you’re afraid of heights, the second floor is probably enough. And those tickets are somewhat easier to come by.
But what about climbing the Eiffel Tower? If you’re feeling fit enough, you can buy a ticket to walk up to the second floor for just 11.30Euro (5.60Euro under 24). I have done this on a solo trip, and it’s a pretty great feeling! There are 674 steps, and you can climb at your own pace, stopping to admire the tower’s construction and view. You can buy tickets in advance but there’s rarely a queue to get tickets on site. If you are in Paris and wondering if you are a strong person, this will prove that you are!
Whether you climb or ride, I recommend going just to the second floor at night. You get an excellent view of the lights that sparkle every hour on the hour. And the top can get pretty cold. Whatever you choose, it will be a night in Paris to remember.
Night Hours: til midnight from mid-June to early September and 11pm the rest of the year. The twinkling light show happens the first five minutes of each hour after dark til close.
Note that the top closes for maintenance every year in January, and that there is heavy security and bag checks so only bring your essentials. Also the Eiffel Tour is not included in any Paris museum or attraction passes. Details, updates and tickets here.
2. Cruise on the Seine
This might seem like a couples or family activity. But a boat cruise on the seine is actually a perfect thing to do in Paris alone at night. Because the city of Paris itself is your date!
Fall in love with the Eiffel Tour, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre-Dame all lit up at night with the wind in your hair and be happy that you took the steps to come here by yourself.
Just 15Euro gets you on the Bateaux Mouches which will take you around on the seine for about 1 hour and 10 minutes past so many famous sights. Runs every 30 minutes to 10pm in summer and every 45 minutes to 9:15pm October to March. You don’t need to book a specific time slot but you can buy on-line in advance to avoid queuing for tickets if you like. Departs from the Seine near Pont Alma or Metro Alma-Marceau.
Tip: Ignore the more expensive “romantic dinner” or other cruises with food, it’s not delicious and it’s more fun to look at the sights and eat later.
Take a Free Guided Walking Tour
Just because you’re travelling solo in Paris, doesn’t need you have to be alone the whole time. One of my favourite things to do as soon as I arrive in a new city alone is sign up for a group walking or biking tour. You get the lay of the land and meet other travellers.
Paris has a lot of guided walking tours for free! Well, you should tip your guide at the end, but it’s based on your experience and budget, not a fixed charge.
This is an excellent way to go out and see Paris at night alone, safely. They usually last 90 minutes to 2 hours and start around 6pm. Here are a few tours that have caught my eye but search for “paris free walking tour at night” and see what suits you.
Haunted Paris walking tour. Want to hear some good ghost stories?
Speakeasies in Paris. Pay for your own drinks but get to see some cool bars with other travellers.
And here are two good ones that aren’t free but fairly affordable: Paris at Night and Paris Ghost Tour.
Go see a movie
One of my very favourite things to do at night in Paris as a solo traveller is go to the movies. After a long day of strolling the streets or exploring museums, it’s wonderful to get off my feet. It’s also an affordable way to be “out” at night and people watch without feeling like you have to socialize.
Cinema is an intrinsic part of French cultural DNA. And so whatever neighbourhood you are staying in, there’s likely a movie theatre close by.
Important note about Language: French films will be in French (obv) without subtitles. Most English or International movies can be either dubbed into French (look for “VR” or “Version Française” if you want this) or screened in their original language with French subtitles (look for “VO” or “VOST” which means “version originale”). So if you’ve picked a Hindi movie that is VO, don’t expect any English at all. And don’t expect the staff to be particularly helpful in navigating your non-French cinema experience, but if you remember your VO vs VF you’ll do fine!
Anglo Info has a wonderfully helpful site to check for movies in English by neighbourhood.
Important note about Food: The French take cinema very seriously. Some indie theatres do not allow any food during the screenings and all generally frown on loud eating during films. This is very different from North America where popcorn is part of the experience. So don’t go hungry!
Here are some of the best movie theatres in Paris to catch a film at night.
Le Grand Rex is the largest cinema in Paris, and the most famous. Open in 1932, it features a stunning Art Deco design and ceiling painted with twinkling stars. For decades it’s been The Place to premiere a film in Paris. (In 1957, celeb Gary Cooper cut the ribbon on what was then one of the first escalators in the city.) It screens the latest blockbusters from Hollywood in both English and French and occasional retro faves. Located in the 2nd arrondissement, near Metro Bonne-Nouvelle. Screenings, tickets and other info available in English on their site.
Louxor Cinema is like your friendly neighourhood indie theatre — with an Egyptian theme. Opened in 1921 at a silent film cinema, it was closed for decades but then restored as a cultural centre in 2013. Try to catch a film in the main theatre, which has preserved its Art Deco glories. There’s also a wine bar upstairs open til 1030pm with great terrace views accessibly only for those with a movie ticket, so a nice place to hang if you want to stay out later. Located right across the street from Barbès-Rocheouart metro – this area can be sketchy at night so keep especially alert or call a taxi for safety. Tickets and info in French only.
UGC Cine Cite les Halles is a massive multiplex located underneath the Forum des Halles shopping mall in the centre of the Marais that’s open especially late. Go here for a bustling environment popular with young Parisians and if you’re not fussy about sticky floors. If you want to catch a specific new release there are so many theatres it’s likely playing. Also a good place to see mainstream French films. Give yourself time to find the place it’s a bit of a labyrinth down there! Screenings and ticket info here in French only.
La Cinémathèque Francaise is an ode to cinema in building form. This is the opposite to seeing a film at UGC Les Halles! It’s actually inside a cinema museum, in a building designed by Frank Gehry, out in the Bercy district. The word Cinémathèque is a hint that place is for arthouse films from around the world and retrospectives of great directors. If you are proudly a film snob, this is your spot. Closed on Tuesdays. Tickets and information in French only.
Bonus! If you’re visiting the summer, there are free outdoor screenings in the park at La Villette.
A night at the Museum
If it’s raining outside, or if you just don’t like crowds, one of the best things to do in Paris at night alone is go to a museum. You have to plan the right night to find the extended hours but you’ll be rewarded by having the treasures of Paris’ art collections mostly to yourself.
The Centre Pompidou is open the latest – to 11pm on Thursday nights. Read more reasons to visit best modern art museum in all of Europe in my extended review here.
The world-famous Louvre is open to 9:45pm on Friday nights. If you’re ever seen the long, long queues outside the pyramid entrance during the day, you’ll know going to see the Mona Lisa or the Winged Victory the Louvre at night is a great idea!
The D’Orsay is known for its rich collection of French art from the 19th century but also its location inside a former railway station. It’s open to 9:45pm on Thursdays.
Palais Tokyo is a centre for young contemporary art and is buzzing most nights to 9pm. (Closed Tuesdays) Check to make sure there’s an exhibition going on. The attached French restaurant Monsieur Blue is open until 2am but the best move in summer is to book a table on the patio (open to 9pm) for cocktails and tapas with gorgeous views of the Eiffel Tower!
Browse for a Good Book
Shakespeare and Co is Paris most famous English language bookstore, packed with new, rare and signed books—and a resident cat! Located just across from the Notre Dame Cathedral on the Left Bank, It often has queues to enter during the day! But it’s open to 8pm (7pm on Sundays) so worth popping by for a browse in the early evening. Next door, Shakespeare and Company Café has coffees and treats.
Abbey Bookshop is only open til 7pm but it’s just around the corner and often less crowded and has an excellent selection.
People Watch in a cafe
Now that you have a book to read, take it to one of Paris’ many cafés. Unlike in North America, cafes in Paris stay open late. And you’re welcome to linger. I like to pick one with a terrasse that faces a busy street, for people watching. If it’s too late for coffee for you, there’s usually herbal teas or cocktails on offer.
Two famous cafes to visit in the 6th arrondissement are Les Deux Magots (one time hang out of Hemingway and de Beauvoir) and Café de Flore (ditto) open to 1am.
Café Beaubourg is on the Right Bank right across from the Pompidou in the Maris and one of my faves, also open to 1am.
Take yourself to dinner
A table for one is not weird in Paris. So don’t be afraid to go out to dinner alone in Paris. I recommend a more casual brasserie than a fine dining experience for this because fancy meals are often long and leisurely and you might not want to be there that long by yourself!
There’s a good chance you’ll find other solo diners seated beside you. And in Paris it’s common to chat with each other while waiting for food. Even if you don’t speak the same language, it’s polite to wish the other person “Bon Appetit” before the start their meal. (It’s also a good way to end a conversation.) If they say this to you, a simple “Merci” is appropriate.
Try some Absinthe
There is no shortage of bars and clubs in Paris if you want to go for drinks alone. Since I don’t drink alcohol I don’t have a lot of experience to recommend. But one thing I do suggest trying at least once in your life while visiting Paris is a proper Absinthe.
Absinthe has a reputation for being a drink that will make you go crazy. Not really. But it is a strong anise-flavoured alcoholic beverage best enjoyed with ceremony. It’s on my list of things to do alone in Paris at night because there’s a ritual to it that is slow, and interesting to watch, so you’re not just sitting there drinking alone. You may want to plan to take a taxi back rather than walk because it’s a strong drink!
At La Fee Verte (“the green fairy”) in the 11th arrondissement near the club zone of the Bastille you can sit at the bar and they will craft your absinthe the old fashioned Victorian way, from a drip decanter.
Relax in a Hammam
If you’re looking for some health and wellness and self-café in Paris at night, may I suggest some time at the hammam?
A hamman is sometimes called a Turkish Bath. At its most basic it’s about steaming your cares away in a warm communal steam room. But there’s also the “gommage” – a full-body exfoliation. Combined, this is a blissful way to relax and recharge. I like to do hammans at the end of a trip, to have quiet time to reflect and reset my body for “real life” back at home.
Paris has several hammams in its fancy spas but for an authentic and affordable option visit the hamman at La Grande Mosquée de Paris. It’s open every night until 9pm and is for women only. No reservations required or accepted, simply show up. The base price for entry is 30Euro but for 50Euro you can get a gommage with tea. Massages are available as well. Located in the 5th Arrondissement near the Marcel Metro station.
For a hammam in a more high-end Paris spa, read about my visit to Les Bains du Maris.
Attend the Ballet
The Palais Garnier is one of the most extraordinarily opulent buildings in the city and probably the most famous Opera House in the world. (Since the opening of the Opera Bastille, it’s mostly used for ballet but there is still some opera.) The exterior attracts gawkers all day long but inside is next level. Like, if you can’t make it to Versailles, this will give you similar wow factor.
You can take a tour during the day but there’s nothing like seeing it as it was intended, during an evening performance. No dress code per se but I highly encourage wearing your best dress. The cheapest seats are 10Euro, available on the day of performance but with very obstructed view. Regular obstructed view starts at about 35Euro. Under 28 and over 65 get discounted rates. Their site has performance and ticket details in English.
Shop for something chic
Paris is famous for high fashion. So if you’ve got the budget for brand name designer clothing while also seeing something uniquely Parisian, you can visit Galleries Lafayette. This upscale department store is famous for its art deco dome and really is worth a visit even if you don’t buy anything. Open til 8:30pm (8pm on Sundays).
Vintage and thrifting more your style? Look for a location of Kilo—a second hand clothing chain that charges by the pound. Some locations are open til 7:30pm.
And for my Goth friends, you can find old school club clothes at Pentagramme in the Marais and get your New Rock boots in the Bastille. Both open to 7pm.
Here’s a tip for those on a Paris Layover: if you’re staying near Charles de Gaulle airport, there’s a popular shopping mall called Aeroville just minutes from the hotels out there or take a free shuttle from Terminal 3 if you only have a few hours and want to get out of the airport. There are 200 stores here from global names like H&M and Sephora to French lingerie boutiques and skin care (open to 8pm) plus a supermarket and cinema open later. Enquire about the shopping coach services.
Go for ice cream
Want to keep it simple? Just get yourself a treat after a long day sightseeing in Paris and go to bed? The best ice cream I ever had was a in Paris at Berthillion. This tea house on Isle St. Louis serves ice cream and sorbet and other deserts, with rotating flavours, all high quality and delicious. I had rose flavoured sorbet that somehow actually tasted like rose and I would probably do bad things to have one again! Open til 8pm. Closed Monday and Tuesdays in the Winter.
Maybe you don’t want to go out at all. Maybe it’s your first night on a solo trip and you’re not comfortable yet being out after dark. Maybe you’re tiiiired. Being solo in Paris all day is fulfilling enough. Well, there’s absolutely no judgement in grabbing some cheese from a local shop and eating it in your hotel room while watching some TV. In fact, I’ve done it myself more than once and think it’s an excellent idea. The 12 other ideas above will still be waiting for you to try tomorrow.