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How to Spend One Day in Paris

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One day in Paris definitely isn’t enough. To be fair, I’m not sure any amount of time in Paris is ever enough.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still try to get a feel of what it’s all about in your 24 hours in Paris. You’ll just have to decide what’s most important to you.

Unless you’re a huge art buff, I don’t recommend visiting the Louvre or Musèe d’Orsay if you only have one day in Paris. They’re much too big and take a lot of time to see.

Instead, you can follow my suggestions and have a nice stroll around the city and get a feel for it, so you can start planning your next visit.

Below, learn how to spend one day in Paris!

Best Ways to Get to Paris

to of the arc de triomphe

The first step in spending a day in Paris is to get there! If you’re coming from within Europe, the easiest way to get to Paris is by train. Many trains can be taken from multiple cities around Europe right to Paris’ Gare du Nord station.

If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll need to take a flight to one of Paris’ international airports. The main airport is Charles de Gaulle Airport. From there, you can take public transportation into the city!

You could also take a bus if needed. There are many bus lines in Europe like Flixbus, but know that they don’t run on time often, so a train or bus is a better option.

That being said, we actually took a bus to Paris from Brussels and didn’t mind it because it wasn’t very long.

Transportation Around Paris

metro entrance sign

Once you’ve arrived in Paris, the best way to get around is by using the city’s public transportation system! We relied on our feet and the Metro for our time in Paris, and it was so reliable.

The metro is fast, efficient, and relatively cheap. You can purchase a day Paris Visite pass for about €12, which gives you unlimited rides on the metro, buses, and trams between certain zones. If you’re only planning on spending a day in Paris, this is the best way to get around.

You could also take taxis if you want, but that bill can rack up quickly!

Best Paris Hotels and Hostels

view of a city from a lookout

There are quite a few places to stay in Paris, but here are some great options.

St Christopher’s Inn Paris Canal

For a great hostel in Paris, consider staying at St Christopher’s Inn Paris Canal. This accommodation was one that our close friend stayed at during her trip to Paris, and she loved it. There’s self-service laundry, a relaxation room, and guests can book a free city walking tour to learn more about Paris.

Click here to check out current rates!

ibis budget Paris Porte de Bercy

While it is a bit further out from the city center, we love to stay at ibis budget hotels when traveling. The ibis budget Paris Porte de Bercy is a great accommodation not far from the airport, and the rooms are comfortable. Continental breakfast is available in the mornings!

Click here to check out current rates!

Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris

If luxury hotels are more your style, book a night at the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris. The rooms are so elegant and the facilities are unbeatable. There’s continental breakfast, a swimming pool, spa, and even a Michelin star restaurant. It’s located in the 8th arr.

Click here to check out current rates!

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One Day in Paris Itinerary

Grab breakfast at Loulou

Loulou is an American-style brunch restaurant in Paris that is open all day and is an excellent choice to eat at any time of day. 

For brunch, choose between classic, brunch-style dishes like eggs benedict and avocado on toast, or opt for more filling lunch options like chicken parmesan, fish and chips, club sandwiches, bowls, burgers, and assorted salads.

You’ll fuel up for a fun day!

Visit the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris & Sainte-Chapelle

large stained glass window

Start exploring at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. After the fire in 2019, the building is still being rebuilt and is closed to visitors, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t still admire the imposing middle rosette and wonderful Romanesque architecture.

Any visit to Paris would be incomplete without seeing Notre-Dame.

To get to the cathedral, try getting off the metro at Place Saint-Michel, the station Saint-Michel Notre-Dame. From there, cross the Pont Saint-Michel bridge and enjoy the view even before you get to it. Then, head towards it – it’s impossible to miss with its unique exterior.

Because you sadly cannot see the fabulous stained glass windows of Notre Dame, you should then visit the Sainte-Chapelle.

The incredible little chapel has almost floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows and is certainly not to be regarded as a consolation prize. Its incredible history is fascinating and, lucky you, the chapel itself is really small, so the visit is quick!

Because the Sainte-Chapelle now takes the brunt of Paris’ visitors aiming to see some glass-stained windows, it’s important to book your visit in advance. The lines can be incredibly long, and especially in post-pandemic times, you could be left outside if you do not buy your ticket beforehand.

Stroll through Saint-Germain-des-Pres Towards the Louvre

After you’re done, head towards the Louvre through the Saint-Germain-des-Pres quarter and along the Seine.

The district is a village-like hub on the left bank of the Seine, and its streets are well-known and so wonderfully Parisian. Enjoy a stroll through a mix of gorgeous cafes, incredible boutiques, and historic buildings.

Next, cross the Seine on Pont du Carrousel and walk towards the Louvre.

Even though you won’t be going into the Louvre, the pyramid, the palace, and the gardens are a sight to see.

After all the exploring, it’s almost time for lunch!

Eat lunch at Happy Place or Angelina

Happy Place is a creperie just around the corner from the Louvre on Rue de Rivoli. 

If the weather is nice, I recommend you take your food to go and find yourself a nice spot to eat in the Jardin du Tuilleries.

If you’d like an option to sit down or if the weather isn’t too kind to you, try out one of Paris’ most famous cafes and head to Angelina. This is an early 1900s gourmet restaurant that people rave about.

This spot is situated on Rue de Rivoli as well and is a Paris institution. They have an extensive menu, but it’s well worth going just for the experience of drinking the first hot chocolate in Paris.

Make your way to Place de la Concorde and Champs-Elysees

After lunch, head towards Place de la Concorde and sneak a peek at the start of Champs-Elysees. Take a walk around the square and the nearby gardens. 

The Champs-Elysees is a long shopping street and a super busy touristy spot. Unless you’re particularly interested in shopping, I wouldn’t recommend walking the whole thing and instead heading towards Montmartre and spending more time there!

Explore the beauty of Montmartre

historic basilica on a cloudy day

Explore Montmartre! My personal favorite, a little village in the middle of Paris, Montmartre holds a special status in the hearts of Parisians and visitors alike.

Take the metro to the Abessess station. From there, go see the Wall of Love. This is a popular spot where the phrase I love you is written in many languages.

After, head towards the funicular up the hill to the Sacre Coeur. On your way there choose your favorite boulangerie for a sweet pastry or savory snack. Then take your food to go and eat it with a view at the Sacre Coeur.

After admiring the view and the basilica, head into the heart of Montmartre, Place du Tertre. Do not miss out on seeing the little vineyard, windmill, and the iconic Montmartre cafe, Le Consulat, that serves absolutely delicious crepes.

After you’re done exploring Montmartre, move towards Place du Trocadero to enjoy the evening view over the Eiffel Tower. Walk from the square down the stairs through the imposing gardens and take the opportunity to take all the photos with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

eiffel tower during the day

When you get to Champs de Mars take a walk around and bask in the full glory of the Eiffel Tower. Going up the tower isn’t mandatory, but it can be nice if the weather is lovely.

The tickets to the top need to be booked well in advance (like most tickets for Paris attractions); I would recommend booking at least a couple of months before your trip.

After, head towards Rue de l’Universite for even more quintessential Parisian Eiffel Tower photos. After you’re done with photos, head just a block further down the Avenue de la Bourdonnais, to the corner with Rue de Monttessuy to Cafe Gustave.

Have Dinner at Cafe Gustave

Cafe Gustave is a traditional French cafe that serves classic French dishes like the Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame, as well as onion soup, snails, and foie gras, as well as a selection of burgers, pasta dishes, steaks, and delicious appetizers. 

It’s one of the most Parisian experiences you can get, and the food is delicious. If you only have one day in Paris, this is the place you want to go.

It’s open until midnight and therefore a perfect place for a late dinner.

Depending on when you decide to book your evening river cruise, you could get dinner before or after. I would recommend starting with dinner to make sure you’ll be on the river in the dark, so you get the full evening Paris experience.

Cruise on the Seine

eiffel tower from across the seine river at night

I highly suggest you end your one day in Paris with an evening boat cruise on the Seine. They’re a wonderful way to see a different side of Paris, hear a bit about the history, and end the day with a little bit of luxury. 

Most will offer a guided tour and some sort of complimentary drink with the option for you to grab more on board.

The cruises start near the Eiffel tower and last from one to two hours and are best booked in advance. A cruise is a way for you to end your day off your legs and for you to see any sights we might have missed in this itinerary. 

They offer a unique perspective and are a wonderful way to see the lit-up buildings of the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Palais de Tokyo, Modern Art Museum and so many others. On top of that, you will also get to see all the most important bridges of Paris without having to walk all along the Seine.

Before you bid goodbye to Paris, don’t forget to take one last selfie with the Eiffel Tower at night!

While only one day in Paris isn’t ideal, it still offers a nice taste of the city that keeps on giving. When you return, you’ll get to go to the Arc de Triomphe and admire the world’s most chaotic roundabout, and you’ll know exactly where you want to spend more time. 

You’ll be able to visit and dedicate more time to Paris’ most important museums, like Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre, and Musee Rodin, or any of the other hundreds of museums Paris has to offer.

This collection of activities keeps you moving through Paris’ central quarters, but the quarters outside of the city center are well worth the visit when you have more time.  The Latin Quarter, Montparnasse, Les Marais and Saint-Michel quarters are all worth your time when you return.

For now, following these activities, you’ll visit most of the Paris must-sees and experience the charm the Parisian streets have to offer.

Visit France

If you’re planning a trip to France, you’re in luck. Explore our other posts on this country to plan your France itinerary!

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