God! I thought so much while writing this post, I deleted, I rewrote, I am still thinking about it because: solo dining in Paris (not a dinner nor a fast food restaurant) or in any other place in the world is just a thing of self-confidence, and I won't deny it, I am good at it, my problem was that I thought that eating alone in a restaurant would be boring (and it isn't). I actually doesn't make me anxious nor it worries me what people around me say or think, or what will I do while I wait for the food, or if the place is too full, etc. I will list some experiences of eating alone in Paris, and I will give some solo dining tips that I hope are pretty useful because eating alone in a restaurant when you travel is wonderful and also a great experience!

First: know your reasons, yes, why do you go eating alone to a restaurant when travelling by yourself? The food, right? Or maybe because you thought the restaurant was precious and you wanted to get to know it; maybe it is because you want to celebrate the fact you are travelling solo, or maybe because you want to go think, reflect, in a nice place with great food, have a better me time. Reasons are EVERYTHING in life my friends, they are the grounds, the support, the safety, the certainty why you do anything, without reasons there is no safety. So: believe in your reasons, stick to them, believe they are valid enough to do whatever you do.

The first time I ate alone in a restaurant in Paris was almost by obligation because I was starving and I didn't want to eat baguette and camembert yet again, I also tricked my mind, I tricked it because I had this false belief that eating alone in a restaurant was boring, I told myself I would only go for a cup of coffee and a small bite and I ended up ordering a soup, some sandwiches, and afterwards a coffee at le Fer au Cheval, a very famous and traditional bistro in Paris in a zone of the Marais full of cafes and tourists. What you can do when solo dining is go to the restaurant, make believe you will just order something small, see how you feel there and if you feel right then you can order a good meal. I don't feel bad at a restaurant just because there is too much people there or because it is too fancy, I am more nervous about the atmosphere of the place and the kind of people there whether I am alone or with other people, but I have also learnt to avoid this because I have a reason or several to be there: I want to try the food, maybe the place is pretty, the view is wonderful, I deserve it and I want to celebrate.

On the other hand, this first experience was also peculiar: I learnt that going to eat alone in a restaurant is very good to think of ponder and feel better; that time I had an argument with Sebastian on the phone not long before, and you don't know how ugly is to argue with your significant other at long distance, do you? That is something I definitely do not recommend to anybody. So this lunch by myself was a great moment for me, to think, to confort myself, to feel better. 

Paris Restaurant

Another tip for solo dining: just take action, Just make the decision, because once taken it is done and you will have a great time and you will repeat it; the first decision is a motivator to keep on doing it. My last dinner in Paris in my solo travel there was at the Carette, it was on the weekend and it was full to the brim and I didn't care because I had already gone to several restaurants alone and this was one more, it doesn't matter if it is fancier and has lots more people in it, I actually was seated at a table where I was visible for a lot of people, I ordered a soup a l'oignon and the main dish was duck a la quelque chose, and I would have stayed for dessert but the waitress was too busy.

Laduree Paris

The most important solo dining tip: love yourself. The experience in itself of having a nice meal in a pretty and good restaurant is unique and very good for the self-esteem, because in the end it is something you are giving yourself just for yourself. That's the point of travelling solo, right? Loving yourself more, enjoying a lot of things with yourself. It is a big act of self-love because it's telling yourself "I can be fine by myself, I can spend a lot of time by myself and be fine about it, do everything for myself, doing just what I like doing, giving myself things I like all the time, spend money all the time in myself". Have you ever done that for five days in a row? A week? Two? A month? It is better than any therapy, than any coach, than any course, than any book, it heals the soul, the body, the mind, the heart, please go and travel alone.

La Maison Rose at Montmartre

On a different day I wanted to go to a Laduree to have breakfast but I definitely didn't want to go by myself, it was during the last days of my solo trip but again I wasn't that hungry and I wanted a good breakfast so bad that I made myself go, and it was wonderful, the waitress was super nice to me, I ordered everything: coffee, juice, French toast, macaroons, omelette, I know! I ended up taking the macaroons home. The experience: wonderful. I was seated at a great table. One of the things I noticed in cafes and restaurants in Paris is that when going by yourself the waiters will treat you nicely, specially waitresses, they treat you better than they would do if you went with more people. Why is it? I don't know, I know it's not because of how you speak French because when I went with Sebastian he spoke better French than I did. So, just for the experience of being treated like a princess it's worth it.

Go out of your comfort zone. I honestly haven't go to a fancier restaurant in Paris, one in which you have to make reservations, order a three-course meal and a bottle of wine, dress up, make up and sit correctly. But I would do it, it would be out of my comfort zone, I would go to one of those restaurants in Paris that have a picturesque view of the Eiffel tower or of the city like The Peninsula, obviously I would dress up fancy but a bit more low-key and would obviously make a reservation for a table with a view so I wouldn't have to look at other people, there are ways of being alone in a restaurant full of people if you feel uncomfortable: you can use your cellphone, read a book, write or look through the window, but that's not the idea. It's not a bad starting point either.

A personal tip for eating alone in a restaurant: face the glances. What you can do when you feel observed is look back at the person looking at you, straight in the eyes, and I can assure you that the person looks away immediately., then you keep on looking that person or that group of people and they forget about you. When you are at a restaurant with lots of people around there are two options: either you are deep inside your own thoughts and enjoying the food, or you are looking and analyzing around you. When you are deep in your own thoughts you can't care less about the rest of the world. On the other hand, if you are too self-conscious and you do care a lot about people you can assume the attitude of observing and analyzing the rest. This way will make that other people won't look at you because you are in control. I know, yes, you are in control.

I know that solo dining is a question of self-confidence, but if you don't have it this is one of the best ways to cultivate it and acquire it, the final satisfaction of eating alone in a restaurant is huge and irreplaceable. And my point is, there is a lot of people travelling solo these days, so why should you deprive yourself of going to a nice place and eat something delicious just because of a stupid social convention and conviction that you have to go with somebody else?

Photography by Caroline Mint


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