Paris is known all over the world as the ‘City of Love’ and there’s no denying it’s a romantic destination, but what if you don’t have that special someone to share it with?
There’s little appeal, as a solo traveller, in visiting a place where sickeningly loved up couples are openly professing their love around every second corner.
Thankfully, there’s much more to France’s capital city than a bridge straining under the weight of thousands of love locks.
With determination, and a comfortable pair of shoes, it’s possible to see all of the following landmarks in just one day.
1. ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Begin your walk at the Arc de Triomphe. You can pop up to the top for a pretty decent view of the Champs-Élysées – Paris’ main shopping street and Europe’s most expensive retail location. Built to honour those who fought in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, it stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle – a manic junction of 12 avenues that sometimes sees traffic ten abreast.
2. EIFFEL TOWER
The Eiffel Tower should really be visited twice – once to see it from the ground during the day, and then again for a view of the entire city twinkling after dark. On your daytime visit, you can get some great views of the tower as you cross the bridge on your way from the Arc de Triomphe. Walk underneath and look up for a good appreciation of the sheer size and intricacies of its design. Then head through the park towards the military school for unbroken views back towards the tower.
3. QUAI D’ORSAY
After the Eiffel Tower, wander along the south bank of the Seine on the Quai D’Orsay. There’s some interesting graffiti and you’ll get a great view of some imposing buildings such as the Musée de l’Armée and Grand Palais. When you reach the Pont de la Concorde, cross over the bridge and pass by the ferris wheel, obelisk and Tuileries Garden. If you have time, the gardens are definitely worth a quick peek. Then continue north east past the Palais Garnier, then north again past the intricate design of the Galeries Lafayette shopping mall until you reach Montmartre.
4. MOULIN ROUGE
The Moulin Rouge is one of the most visited buildings in Europe and, having just celebrated its 125th birthday, now attracts more than 630,000 visitors annually. Just checking out the lobby and the famous windmill is exciting, but you really should splash out on a ticket to the cabaret. We’re not just talking cancans and feather boas. There are also live boas – of the constrictor variety – in a huge tank full of water to spice things up a bit!
5. LE MUR DES HE T’AIME
Nearby, close to the Abbesses metro stop is this really awesome wall, which says ‘I love you’ in every language. The flashes of red represent the pieces of a broken heart – those of a humanity that is too often torn apart. Of course this wall is another reminder that you’re single in the city of love, and you might be surrounded by loved-up couples posing for photographs while you’re there, but it’s still worth checking out.
6. SACRE COEUR
Climb the hill to the Sacre Coeur and have a look inside before admiring the view over Paris’ rooftops. Next, as you wind your way down the footpaths, don’t forget to look back occasionally to see the imposing Catholic church in all its glory. Unfortunately, this is a popular spot for opportunist scammers, but if you ignore them or say a firm no when they offer to ‘let you try on a bracelet’, you shouldn’t have any problems.
After passing along some quaint Parisian streets on your way back towards the river, you’ll come out at the east entrance to the Louvre. If you don’t have the time to go inside, at the very least, you should walk through the courtyard to see the iconic glass pyramid, which acts as an entrance to the lower ground exhibition area. Access to the permanent collection costs 12 euros. If you have the time, you could go for a two-day pass that will get you into more than 60 museums and monuments in the city for 42 euros. If you do go inside, don’t miss the Louvre’s most famous painting – Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
8. PONT DES ARTS
More unavoidable reminders of all the loved up couples appear in the form of thousands upon thousands of locks attached to the Pont des Arts. In fact, there are so many that the bridge has been reinforced to help support their weight. While being confronted with such an obvious reminder that you’re not in a loving relationship is a bit of a kick to the teeth, the stunning view certainly takes the edge off.
9. NOTRE DAME
Widely considered to be one of the best examples of French gothic architecture, the Notre Dame cathedral has sat on a small island on the Seine for eight centuries. Entrance is free of charge.
10. EIFFEL TOWER AT NIGHT
Return to the Eiffel Tower after dark, but this time, buy a ticket and go up to the top. Your efforts are rewarded with gorgeous views of the city. The Eiffel Tower itself also twinkles on the hour.
FIND ACCOMMODATION IN PARIS
With so many fantastic places to see, a trip to Paris is rewarding whether you’re on a romantic weekend break with your partner or exploring by yourself. The lack of a companion should never be an excuse not to visit a destination. Cheapflights do return airfares from London from as little as £57 so the cost shouldn’t be an excuse either.