Eating alone in Paris, like this woman sat at a bistro table seen through the window.

TOF alias christophe hue

Before I moved to Paris, I was afraid of eating alone, at a table by myself, in public, for anyone to see. I have no idea why the idea was so terrifying, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who has ever felt that way.

Eating alone in Paris, like this woman in a floral blue dress at a restaurant tucking into cake.Carin Olsson

It wasn’t until last year during a warm spring day in May that I found myself in this completely new and quite intimidating situation. But to get past your fears you have to face them, right? So that’s what I did. I sat down at Coutume Café and had brunch, all by myself. Sure, the first few minutes were a bit awkward. And no, it did not help that the two gentlemen at the table beside me giggled every time they looked my way. Do I have something on my face? Did the spinach get stuck between my teeth? Did I pronounce ‘jus de fruits’ completely wrong?

Where to eat alone in Paris, like this woman wearing a hat and sitting outside at a bistro table with her notebook.TOF alias christophe hue

They probably meant no harm, but when you’re pushing outside of your comfort zone you tend to notice (and in my case over-analyze) everything going on around you just a little bit more than you normally would.

After surviving the first awkward minutes at my table for one (and checking on the teeth-spinach situation in my pocket mirror), I started to relax and actually enjoy myself. My eyes wandered from the waitress taking orders from the table in front of me, to the barista behind the bar and then to the gentlemen next to me chatting rapidly in French. It felt nice. When you’re alone you have no choice but to take it all in, and hopefully even enjoy it. You can’t hide behind conversations or miss the people passing by.

Eating alone in Paris, like this woman at a cafe, reading her book.

TOF alias christophe hue

Paris is a great city to start your dining alone adventure. Every time I pay a visit to my favorite restaurants here in Paris, I always see a couple people enjoying their meal (a three course meal with wine that is) tout seuls. Even if they’re dining alone they treat themselves to a fantastic lunch or dinner out.

A Paris café terrace in summer with colorful rattan bistro chairs lined by leafy plants (left). Aerial view of a Paris cafe sidewalk terrace in the sun, with red tables and chairs (right).Making Magique

Le Comptoir du Relais has a fabulous terrasse with a view of people strolling the streets of Saint-Germain, and their wine bar next door, L’Avant Comptoir, is perfect if you’re in the mood to chat with a couple of new people hanging out at the bar. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Frenchie’s wine bar also seem to be made for people looking to enjoy a meal on their own. Grab a table along the bar at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon or at the kitchen window at Frenchie’s wine bar and enjoy the talented chefs in action – you get an amazing meal plus great entertainment.

The best bistros for eating alone in Paris, like this cozy place where a woman is taking a picture of her food, as seen through the window.

TOF alias christophe hue

I would also suggest finding a quiet corner at Hôtel Amour or Colorova and ordering a pot of tea and one of those gorgeous pastries while disappearing into a great book. Merci’s Used Book Café also feels like it was designed with exactly this type of purpose in mind… Dining options for une personne in Paris are endless!

Eating alone in Paris, like this woman at a bistro, whose reflection we can see in the mirror above the bar.

TOF alias christophe hue

It has taken me a couple of practice rounds to get comfortable dining on my own and, depending on my surroundings, it’s still a little hard from time to time. But practice makes perfect, and I am wholly dedicated to mastering the art of solo dining. If you’re just starting out too, here are some tips to help you get started:

Where to eat alone in Paris, like this blonde woman seen from the back, through a bistro window with reflections of bikes parked nearby.

TOF alias christophe hue

Bring something to read
Hiding behind a book or an interesting magazine can feel a bit safer and is a great way to start if you’re not completely comfortable with the the idea of eating alone. Some restaurants and cafés often have a few newspapers lying around as well.

There are lots of places to eat alone in Paris, like this bookshop where a woman is working on her laptop.

Carin Olsson

Look for WiFi
If you find yourself without reading material and still want a safety blanket, WiFi is your friend. Surf the web, read articles, and keep up with your favorite blogs while enjoying your meal alone. Café Craft (a freelancer’s paradise), La Cantine, Kooka Boora and Merce and the Muse are just a couple of the many cafés and restaurants that offer free WiFi in Paris today.

Eating alone in Paris is easy as there are plenty of cozy bistros like this one, with a blonde woman in a white vest, eating a salad, who we can see through the window with the word 'Paris' pasted on it.

TOF alias christophe hue

Dine with a view
If you feel comfortable enough to skip the book, I suggest finding a place with a view that’s easy on the eyes. Let your eyes feast on the passing people, the spectacular architecture or the chefs working in the kitchen. Head to the Saint Régis or the Nemours if you’re in the mood for a glass of wine, or to Le 43 for a cocktail. For a meal, try the Georges at the Centre Pompidou, and Carette by the Trocadero for a couple of macarons to go with your afternoon coffee.

Be creative
I’ve found myself many times without that back-up book, magazine or view to keep me occupied. When that happens, I resort to my immediate surroundings: eavesdrop on the people behind you (come on, everybody does it), make up your own stories about what people are talking about, where they’re from and what they do. Think Steve Carell and Tina Fey in the movie “Date Night”; if you have the imagination, you’re guaranteed a fun night by yourself.

Eating alone in Paris like this elderly man reading the paper flat on a table lit by a spotlight.

TOF alias christophe hue

Enjoying Paris by myself is now one of my favorite things to do, so don’t be afraid to give it a go. You never know what might happen!

Related links:

  • Want to find out more about Hotel Amour? Have a look at HiP Paris’ previous article about this lovely hotel
  • At Coutume Café you can finally get some good coffee in Paris, as well a few other places listed in this article
  • Le 43 is a great hotel bar, we’ve listed a few other ones that you need to pay a visit to while in Paris

Written by Carin Olsson for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Carin Olsson

Carin Olsson left both her job and family back in Sweden to pursue her longtime dream of moving to Paris. A big passion for food, sweets, the city itself and photography resulted in her blog, Paris in Four Months, where she shares her time in the city of light.


  1. Thank you very much for this article, it’s almost therapeutic! I’m heading to Paris (solo) for most of September, and while I’m extremely excited to explore the city I confess I’m an introvert (who also loves solo travel, is that a contradiction?). The only thing I’m stressed about is eating alone; waiting in a queue, potentially sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, trying to understand how the restaurant “works” (i.e. menu vs. carte) while attempting to use the French I’ve been learning… The whole process feels so daunting, but I have to suck it up and do what it takes to make sure the anxiety doesn’t ruin my trip.

    I hope what you say is true, that it just takes a few awkward trial runs before I can fully enjoy the experience. I’m not much of a reader but I’ll definitely get a book as you suggest.

  2. I am attending a friend’s wedding in August and will be alone in Paris. I have arranged to stay in the city for a few days to make the most of the trip and your article encourages me that I would not be the only person to dine solo. To complicate matters I do not speak French at all so hope that won’t be a total hindrance. Anyway your article makes me want to give it a go.

  3. Very cool article with great advice. One thing is that if you can go it alone in Paris, you can do it anywhere. For me, a frequent solo traveller, Paris was the most difficult due to the very long eating times customary in France. I’ve been to many a restaurant for dinner and was annoyed that the service wasn’t sped up a little to accommodate my soloness. (“Don’t they see that it’s just me?”) This mainly applied to dinner, lunch was never a problem. Having a book with me or some another thing to occupy my time was an absolute must in those cases. I never felt comfortable hurrying up the service for fear of being the ugly American “always in a hurry”–but when you’re dining alone, sometimes you really don’t want to be there for 2 hours. If you have any advice regarding this, I’d be all ears. – thanks, Bill.

  4. Wonderful! I’m not an expert, but it seems that the tables in Paris are much smaller in general than in America. The smaller tables are an advantage for dining alone. I only feel weird when I’m seated at a giant table in the middle of the room!

    In general, I don’t mind eating alone. I did it recently and took the time to read about a new coffee shop close by and tried it out. I wouldn’t have known about it if I had been talking to someone instead of reading. I don’t know if this matters, but I’m introverted. I think it may be more difficult for an extroverted person to dine alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *