I have been to Paris a few times. Once for only a day even. I honestly didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I know what you’re thinking: You didn’t love Paris?… WHAT?! It’s not that I don’t love Paris, I just didn’t like that day. I was on a school trip and we drove to what is supposedly the city of love for just one day.
We went to the Louvre (for those of you who don’t know: this museum hosts the Mona Lisa), we took a Bateau Muche ride on the Seine (transl.: we took a boat ride on the river) and we had an hour to walk up and down the Champs-Élysées (one of the main avenues in Paris). What I disliked most about this day was that I didn’t get a feel for the city’s character. It didn’t feel like I was in the most romantic city in the world.
When I think of Paris I think of croissants and coffee in a little café, eating crepes by the Eiffel tower and watching the sun go down with someone you love. I couldn’t believe how disappointing my school trip to Paris was (and then again, how many school trip are really that great?), so I decided to use the knowledge on Paris that I have gained since then and share with you how you actually can enjoy this beautiful city in just one day.
Whether you have a long layover at the airport, you are just traveling through by train, or you are planning to use the days you have there most effectively, here are my top tips on how to experience Paris to it’s full potential in just one day (note: if you are staying longer than just one day, you could definitely plan visits to other museums or busier sites on those other days). And because seeing the city on foot is one of the best ways to experience the sites here, this could really categorise as a semi-walking tour. PS: It’s also budget friendly. Phew, that was a long intro.
Now then, let’s get straight to business:
WELCOME TO PARIS
One: the Metro & Notre Dame
Wherever you are arriving from, take Metro line no. 4 to Saint Michel Notre Dame (side note: if you haven’t had breakfast yet, grab a croissant or pastry and coffee at Boulangerie Saint Michel, right around the corner). After that, head on over to our starting point:
La Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. In other words: the big cathedral from the Disney movie “The Huntchback of Notre Dame”. While it may look beautiful from the inside, we won’t have time to take a look inside. Not only because it’s so big, but because no matter what day of the week or time of day it is, there always seems to be an endless line of people waiting to get in. If you really want to see it, plan to be in the city longer than just 12 hours.
Two: the River Seine & PONT NEUF
While this also counts as another attraction you can check off your list, it also doubles as our method of getting to the next major site. Head north-west towards Pont Neuf, the bridge that will lead you to the famous museum I was talking about. Cross the bridge and continue left onto a street named “Quai du Lourve” keep walking and you’ll get to the side entrance of the museum’s courtyard.
Three: Le Louvre
Another suggestion on my behalf: In order to experience this museum to it’s full potential, plan a WHOLE day to be there. This is an all or nothing sort of experience, which is why I wouldn’t recommend adding it to our one-day-itinerary, plus it’s super busy ALL THE TIME. The courtyard with it’s famous glass pyramid (also featured at the beginning of the movie Wonder Woman!!!) and the gardens (Jardin de Tuileries) belonging to the property are just as worth seeing as the interior of the museum.
Four: Champs Élysée & ARC DE TRIUMPH
Once you’ve made your way through the jardin, you’ll reach the Place de la Concorde, one of the major squares in Paris. Cross it and you will reach the Champs Élysée. This major avenue will take you all the way up to the Arc de Triumph, the cities famous arch and round-a-bout. On your way up to the arch, I highly recommend stopping at the Häagen-Dazs ice-cream parlour. While this may not be French, it’s absolutely delicious (and no, this little treat is not so budget friendly). Also plan on making a few stops in the different stores along the way. They have everything from Disney to Louie Vuitton. Side note: you can climb up the Arc de Triumph, but again, it’s not as affordable and very busy. Stay tuned for my special insider tip on how to get the best view of the city.
Five: Eiffel Tower
This next stop is probably the most visited attraction in the whole country. The Eiffel Tower. Start walking down Avenue Kléber from the Arc de Truimph to get to the famous landmark. I highly recommend getting a crepe or sandwhich or both for lunch and finding a bench to enjoy the view. Bienvenue a la France (Welcome to France). This is where it really hit me that I was in Paris. I honestly feel like there are no further words needed. Actually there are. Here is a little tip for you: don’t plan on going up the Eiffel tower because no 1 the lines are waaaaay too long, no 2 the entrance fee is waaaaay too expensive, and no 3 I have a hidden gem in Paris up my sleeve that I will share with you. I know, I know, I’ll tell you in juuust a second, but first take out your polaroid camera (if you haven’t already) and get some candid snaps of this iconic view.
Six: My hidden gem: LA Tour Monparnasse
You’re probably thinking like: What on earth is that? I ain’t going on no tour. First off, it’s not actually a tour, it’s a tower. One of the highest buildings in the city… and it has a viewing platform. Why is it my hidden gem? Because it’s typically not as busy as the Eiffel Tower, it’s more affordable AND you actually have pictures of the city with the Eiffel Tower in it. And because you’ve made it this far in my post here’s another tip: plan to be there to watch the sun go down and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle for the first time that night. I now conclude: no words needed.
In order to get there, take a metro to Gare Montparnasse on line 6 from Passy or Bir Hakeim which are located close to the Eiffel Tower. After your visit, you can walk back to Gare Montparnasse which is one of the main train stations in the city. From there it will be easy to continue on your journey. If you still have time, you can always find a nice restaurant to experience an authentic French dinner. I recommend L’Atlantique because it’s close and also open until 2am, so there is no rush to get there.
This, dear traveling friends, concludes how I would spend just one day in the most romantic city in the world, because honestly it kind of is. Even if you only have 12 hours, it’s truly worth it! I hope you enjoyed this post and got some ideas about what to do in this wonderful place.
If you are a traveller on a schedule or you are just curious about what other insights I can give you, click here for my post on How to enjoy just one day in NYC.
I’m always looking for new sights to see and experience. If you only had one day in this beautiful city, where would you go? Have you been to the Tour Montparnasse viewing platform? What did you think? I can’t wait to hear, so let me know!
See you soon, Sophie