Solo Travel in France: Ultimate Guide & Best Places to Visit

Are you looking for the perfect destination for your first solo trip? Or maybe you are a seasoned solo traveller seeking inspiration.

France is the most visited country in the world and a wonderful destination for those travelling alone. It is also a country that I have visited solo more times than I can count.

Whether you are a foodie, culture vulture, beach bunny or history fangirl/fanboy, there is something for every type of single traveller.

Get the lowdown in this France solo travel guide. Discover why you should visit, the top solo travel destinations, how to get around and more.

man riding a bike along a pretty cobble stone street in colmar france

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Food and wine – France has a deserved reputation as one of the foodie capitals of Europe. If there was ever a country to try wine-tasting this is it.

Rich culture – This is one of the most culturally rich countries in Europe. Whether you want to gaze at the Mona Lisa in The Louvre to sing along to the Arctic Monkeys at the Nimes Festival, there’s something for everyone.

Rich history – France is home to almost 50 World Heritage sites, from the Palace of Versailles to the Cathedral at Chartres

gothic facade of chartres cathedral with rose window and two pointed towers
Chartres Cathedral

Diverse landscapes – From vertiginous canyons to salt flats, jagged mountain peaks to sand dunes, there is an array of landscapes packed into this country.

Transport infrastructure – It’s easy to travel around France by train or bus if you are not hiring a car. For places that public transport doesn’t reach, there’s usually a day tour you can join.

Plentiful accommodation – As France is a popular tourist destination, solo travellers shouldn’t struggle to find somewhere to stay.

Easy for English speakers –France welcomes visitors from across the globe and English is widely used as a second language. That said, it doesn’t hurt to learn a little French.

Is France Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Personal safety is a priority for female solo travellers.
 
France is considered to be safe for women travelling alone. I’ve never had any problems travelling there.
 
Although violent crime is rare, the cities do suffer from nimble-fingered pickpockets. As with any destination, don’t make yourself a target.
 
Keep your belongings safe. Stash your valuables at your accommodation and use an anti-theft backpack when you are out and about. I use this PacSafe backpack which has anti-RFID technology and a hidden pocket.
 
Stick to familiar streets after dark and make sure that you know your way back to your hotel or apartment. In the big cities, quiz your hotel concierge about local risks.
 
Above all, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation.

Popular Solo Travel Destinations in France

Pulling together a definitive list of places to visit alone in France is nigh on impossible.

All 13 regions of this large country have something to offer and you could spend a lifetime exploring all of their attractions. Each time I visit I make new discoveries.

Instead, I have focused on the most popular France solo travel destinations, sprinkled with a few of my favourites. If you like to map it out, here’s one I prepared earlier:

best of the best destinations for solo travel in france
Best places to travel alone in France. Map data @ Google 2023.

1. Paris

classical bronze statue with dome of the pantheon of paris in background

I have a love-hate relationship with France’s capital.  

On the one hand, I find it busy, dirty, traffic-clogged and expensive. But after a visit to a favourite museum or a slap-up meal in a Parisian bistro, all is forgiven.

Paris is stuffed with iconic landmarks from the Pantheon to the Eiffel Tower. But I like the lower-key activities such as wandering along the Seine, watching kids sail their boats in Jardin du Luxembourg or walking the Paris Highline.

It’s also a great base for a day trip to Chartres, the Palace of Versailles and Amiens, to name but a few places.

2. Champagne region

woamn in sunglasses holding a glass of champagne
Tasting the good stuff in Reims!

One of the best solo activities in France is wine tasting and you can sample some of the best in the Champagne region, 100 miles east of Paris. 

Although you can do a DIY champagne tour of Reims as a day trip from the capital, I recommend staying overnight. This will allow you to visit the UNESCO-listed Reims Cathedral or take a side trip to Epernay.

3. Alsace

stone bridge reflected in water
Strasbourg, France

Alsace wines are criminally underrated but there’s more to this region in eastern France than tasting the nectar of the grapevine (although that’s not a bad start). Hugging the border with Germany, the Alsace’s exquisite architecture is a legacy of the region yoyoing between the two countries over a 200-year period.

With its cobbled streets and pastel-hued, half-timbered houses lining small canals, Colmar is a feast for the eyes. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Strasbourg historic centre is also picture-book pretty and its cathedral is the second-most visited in France.

4. Normandy

red rose against a white cross in cemetery at omaha beach
Normandy American Cemetery, Omaha Beach

Normandy is often ignored by northern Europeans in their haste to reach the delights of Provence, the Languedoc or Côte D’Azur. This is a shame because this part of France has much to offer visitors, from its spectacular coastline to its charming towns and villages.

Gorgeous Honfleur is a perfect base for exploring Normandy. From here, you can visit Etretat, Deauville, Villerville and the D-Day Landing Beaches.

This is a region of France where the car is king. But you can visit Normandy on a day trip from Paris that includes the D-Day beaches.

5. Brittany

buildings of st malo in france hugging a small beach and rugged coastline
St. Malo

Brittany is on a peninsula in the northwest corner of France, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean like a pointing finger. Like Normandy, a car is your best friend here but it is a region that offers something for everyone.

St. Malo on Brittany’s rugged coast has a rich seafaring legacy. You can enjoy the seafood that the region is known for in historic cities such as Brest, Quimper and Vannes.

But my favourite place in Brittany is the medieval riverside town of Dinan with its narrow cobbled streets, lined with pretty half-timbered houses.

6. Loire Valley

exterior of turreted chateau with reflection in small lake in the loire valley

The Loire Valley is the stuff of fairy tales.

Located on the frontier between northern and southern France, and a short rail journey from Paris, you can easily include this historic region into most France solo travel itineraries. Its main hubs are Orléans, Blois, Tours and Angers.

This is where the nobility established feudal castles and pleasure palaces. As a result, this river valley is dotted with some of France’s most sumptuous aristocratic estates, attesting to over a thousand years of architectural creativity.

Oenophiles won’t feel short-changed. The Loire Valley wines are amongst the best in France. 

7. Provence

arles-provence
Festival in Arles, Provence

There is something for every solo traveller in Provence.

The region’s architectural wonders, such as the Palais des Papes in Avignon, are a lasting legacy of its rich history. These are equalled by its natural wonders, like the famous Calanques near Marseilles or its acres of lavender fields.

Better still, it’s easy to explore Provence by train. You’ll just need to join a day trip to see the famous lavender fields.

8. Bordeaux

3-story elegant buildings and a square reflected in shallow water in a pavement in Bordeaux known as mirroire d'eau

Bordeaux, on the Garonne River in southwestern France, is the hub of the eponymous wine-growing region. The city has a spectacular museum dedicated to wine – Cité du Vin – and hosts a famous wine festival every summer.

Use Bordeaux as a base to visit the vineyards of Saint Émilion, or Arcachon and Dune du Pilat. Both of these day trips are doable by train.

9. Occitanie

bronze sculpture of a matador in front of the roman arena at nimes in france
Roman Arena of Nimes

Languedoc-Roussillon, or Occitanie, is one of my favourite regions in France. It stretches from the Rhone Valley in the east to the Spanish border in the southwest and includes the western Mediterranean coast of France.

The region is not short of historic cities.

I have a soft spot for Nimes with its superb Roman remains, and Albi and its immense red-brick cathedral. Other highlights include the pink city of Toulouse and the famous fortified city of Carcassonne.

And if it’s a spot of R&R you are after, head to enchanting Collioure on the Roussillon coast.

10. French Riviera

woman walking up steps with dog between ochre colored buildings
Old town, Nice, France

Also known as the Côte d’Azur, the French Riviera is all about glamorous resorts. If you are a solo beach bunny, this could be the region of France for you.

So, don that sunhat and those sunglasses, and an air of sophistication, and people-watch on the beach of Nice or stroll the boardwalks of Cannes and Monaco.

Personally, I prefer the lower-key town of Menton. It equals – or exceeds – the beauty of the better-known coastal towns, but attracts a fraction of the crowds.

11. Lille

people sitting at outdoor cafe tables in a square lined with old buildings

Featuring grand cobblestoned squares lined with exuberant Baroque buildings, Lille is one of France’s best-kept secrets. And thanks to its excellent rail connections, it is easy to take a day trip to Lille from other major cities, including London via Eurostar.

I’ve twice used it as a France solo city break.

Lille is in Northern France, close to the Belgian border and around 140 miles from Paris. It is the so-called capital of French Flanders and Flemish influences are evident throughout the city, from its architecture to its food.

For culture vultures, the city is home to Palais des Beaux-Arts, a fine art gallery second only to the Louvre in Paris in size and stature. But for a unique experience, take the short metro journey to La Piscine Museum in Roubaix. This modern art museum is housed within a former glorious Art Deco swimming pool.

READ THIS NEXT: Eurostar Standard Premier Vs Standard: Is an Upgrade Worth it?

The Best Time of Year to Visit France

France is a year-round solo travel destination. Its climate is not a major consideration.

Northern France – like the UK, this can be wet and unpredictable.

Western France –  tempered by the proximity of the Atlantic, this is subject to storms and close thundery days

Central & Eastern France – more reliable weather with colder winters and hotter summers

South of France – short winters and long, hot summers long. Perfect for soaking up the sun on the Côte D’Azur,

However, there are a few times of the year when I would steer clear of France.

As many French people vacation in their own country, think twice about visiting during the main French holiday periods – mid-July to the end of August.

Groups of European schoolkids descend on Paris at Easter in Paris. And if you are a solo skier, school groups also favour the February ski break.

Solo Travel in France: Getting Around

By rail

red and white drivers cabin of a tgv train in france

I have travelled around France by train many times. It has the most extensive train network in Western Europe and the national rail company, SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer), runs fast, efficient trains between the main towns.  

The poster child of SNCF is the high-speed TGV, capable of speeds of up to 300kph. Seat reservations are compulsory. These trains can fill up, especially around weekends, and holidays.

Intercité trains are also a good option. These are trains plying intercity routes not yet upgraded to TGV. While they are not as fast, they are modern and comfortable and have restaurant cars.

The slower, regional express trains (TER) meander from the likes of Paris to Provence, Lyon to the Loire or Brittany to Bourgogne.

You can buy tickets online or at train stations (I use self-service machines which have instructions in English).

Using an Interrail pass in France has saved me money on rail travel. However, this does not excuse you from the reservation fee for high-speed services. SNCF also offers rail passes.

However, if you’re taking just a few train rides and are able to commit to dates and times in advance, take advantage of advance-purchase discounts on point-to-point train tickets.

Here’s an excellent overview of rail travel in France.

By bus

I haven’t found buses to be very useful for my solo France itineraries. Although they cover the parts that trains don’t reach, services can be sporadic with awkward departure times.

On an organised tour

To reach places that are more off the beaten track, or to maximise your time in France, a day tour can be an excellent solution. Excursions are also a good way for you to meet other people as a solo traveller. 

I book my day tours through GetYourGuide. I like the booking interface, there’s an easy-to-use app and their tours usually come with a generous free cancellation window.

>>> EXPLORE DAY TOURS IN FRANCE HERE

Small Group Tours of France

Although I have been an independent solo traveller for many years, I am a fan of small group tours.

Your tour operator takes care of all of the arrangements on the group’s behalf. These include transportation, accommodation and most activities.

It’s a time-efficient way of exploring a country and, if you are concerned about the spectre of solo travel loneliness, you will have ready-made travel companions.

Here are some options from a few of my favourite small group tour companies:

Paris & Normandy Highlights

Normandy is tricky to explore on public transport and this G-Adventure National Geographic tour offers a way to hit the region’s highlights with ease. Bookended by Paris, it explores Bayeux, Rouen, Honfleur, the D-Day Beaches, Mont St-Michel and the gardens at Giverny.

This trip is for you if you are looking for a comfortable experience with upgraded accommodation and meals, and a diverse selection of sights.

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

honfleur normandy 1
Lovely Honfleur in Normandy

Cycle Provence

Few things are more quintessentially French than cycling through the lavender fields of Provence, another area of France that is not well served by public transport. This 8-day tour takes you to the heart of Provence, visiting hilltop villages and vineyards and exploring the region’s Roman heritage. E-bikes are available at an extra cost.

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

London to Bordeaux, the Basque Country and the Beach

Do you want a relaxing rail itinerary that combines cities and beaches?

This 7-day adventure starts at the Eurostar terminal at London St. Pancras and finishes in the sunny city of Málalga. It’s a terrific journey visiting Bordeaux, San Sebastian and Segovia. You also get to walk part of the famous Camino de Santiago.

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

Where to Stay in France as a Solo Traveller

Choosing the right place to stay is key to the success of a solo trip. As well as being comfortable and welcoming, it needs to be in a safe location.  

Outside of the busy times of the year (mid-July until the end of August), you can turn up in any French town or city and find a room or apartment. However, booking some accommodation can be reassuring, sets your budget in advance and gives you the pick of the best places.

In French cities, there is a range of accommodation to suit all budgets. In smaller towns, your options may be confined to more expensive establishments.

Hotels in Paris can be eye-wateringly expensive.  

READ THIS NEXT: Choosing a Hotel That’s Perfect for YOU: 10 Factors You Cannot Ignore

Why You Should Take a Solo Holiday in France

Choosing a solo travel destination can be challenging, especially if you are a first-time solo traveller. France ticks so many boxes for those travelling alone.

It is a beautiful country, packed with cultural attractions and epic landscapes, and is easy to get around. Above all, France is relatively safe for female solo travellers.

If you need more help with planning your perfect solo trip to France, take a look at these articles before you go:

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

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