What to Do in Paris for a Day
Exploring Paris in just one day, is it even possible? Short answer is Yes. Long answer: It’s going to take some planning and a bit of a rush.
Even if you spent an entire week, you’d be wishing for more because the City of Love is hard to get enough of. You can still experience it in a day though, without missing out on the best sights, the tastiest food, and the finest shopping.
Here we come up with a plan for those striving to make the most of Paris in just a day. Remember, do not rush it, Paris isn’t going anywhere. The secret lies in enjoying every second in this lovely city. Let’s begin, but first…
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Paris in One Day
Arc de Triomphe
Extra: Latin Quarter
The Eiffel Tower
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Begin your Paris journey at the well-known Eiffel Tower – that amazing iron structure everyone recognizes. Gustave Eiffel created it for a big event in 1889, and since then, it’s become a symbol of the city. Back in the day, it was the tallest building globally until 1930, and a group of steelworkers spent more than two years building it. The views from above are amazing., you can take an elevator up or try to climb the 1665 stairs on your own (we do not recommend that!).
Since it’s so popular, it’s smart to go early, even better on weekdays. To get you an idea, there will be so many crowds, that you probably won’t take some photos without someone interfering. Likewise, getting your tickets online ahead of time is the best way to skip potentially long lines. If you’re planning on going inside, secure those tickets early too, and try to get there as soon as possible to get some awesome pics.
For a more chill time at the Eiffel Tower, try going in the morning or in the evening when it’s not as busy. The ground level is free for everyone to explore and has ticket counters, info, souvenirs, and cool views of the lifts. If you have time after, you can visit Trocadero, which is open all day long and is perfect for seeing the Eiffel Tower light up at sunset. It sparkles for five minutes every hour on the hour. Trocadero Gardens are free and safe at night too. Enjoy the views!
Where to eat near the Eiffel Tower
We suggest Restaurant de la Tour for a fantastic dining experience nearby. Located on a quiet side street, it provides a quiet escape from the busy nearby eateries. The food and wine are superb, some of the best in Paris. The service is excellent too, and we recommend ordering the smoked duck breast with duck liver pate. Due to its popularity, it’s a good idea to book in advance, even weeks before your arrival.
Or Explore Our Guide to the Best Restaurants in Paris
Arc de Triomphe
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From the Eiffel Tower, it’s a quick 16-minute metro ride. Just catch the metro at Tour Eiffel Station and get to Charles de Gaulle – Etoile – Wagram Station. Or, you could stretch your legs with a 32-minute walk if you’re feeling bold.
What today is an unequivocal symbol of Paris, it was Napoleon who ordered it to be built to celebrate the victories of the French Army. You can admire this gorgeous structure from afar or take a closer look for free. Take a stroll around it and appreciate the intricate details on its exterior. And guess what? You can even climb up the 40 stairs inside the Arch to get an amazing view.
If you are in the mood, you can buy tickets for €13 to take a self-guided walking tour inside the Arc de Triomphe. And if heights don’t scare you, for an extra fee of €12, you can access the rooftop. The views from up is a whole new world from what you saw at the Eiffel Tower.
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After you’ve taken in the city views from well above, make your way down and head to Champs-Élysées.
Before going deeper, do you know what it means? In French, Elysian Fields is the burial place of the heroes of Greek mythology.
It is best known for its theaters, cafés, and fancy shops, and for being the endpoint of the Tour de France cycling race. Today it’s a great promenade along the city’s buildings, maybe have some food, or do some shopping around. Speaking of which, it is a shopping wonderland with all the chic shops you could possibly imagine. In short, The Champs Élysées is like a cultural hotspot that caters to every taste. Lots of options to enjoy!
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This fancy church is still in use today and is one of the must-see places in Paris. It will be a highlight of your trip, for sure, because its grandeur officially welcomes you to Paris. They started building this cathedral back in the 12th century, and its precise location on the Île de la Cité shows off the city’s medieval roots. Not only it is most famous for its awesome architecture but also for having endured major global events. For example, it hosted the crowning of Emperor Napoleon I and King Henry VI, survived the French Revolution, and even made it through two World Wars!
Now, the bummer part is you can’t go inside Notre Dame right now. Some parts suffered great damage from a fire in 2019, and that will take some time. But hey! you can still admire it from a distance.
Not everything is bad though. The Notre Dame Cathedral is set to reopen in December 2024.
Photo by Fabio Fistarol on Unsplash
Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you can’t deny that the Louvre is just out of this world.
Once the residence of the Kings of France, The Louvre is a gem of unfamiliar architecture. From the seventh to the nineteenth century, there is an extensive art collection. It hosts everything from sculptures by Michelangelo, Bernini, and Canova to paintings by Da Vinci and Delacroix A special focus is on the Apollo Gallery which is a must-see. The walls and ceilings are covered in breathtaking frescoes, and everything around them is soaked in gold!
We suggest setting aside at least two hours to check out the Louvre Pyramid and all the amazing art. Most importantly. you really can’t just show up and expect to get in; you need tickets. To make things easy, get them in advance – go for the skip-the-line ticket. As an alternative, you can book a 3-hour tour of the Louvre for the full experience!
Have some Parisian hot chocolate at Angelina
Close to the Louvre, Angelina has a stunning traditional interior. Enjoy the hot chocolate with delightful whipped cream. Pastries are fresh and well-made. The warm service adds to the experience, making it a must-visit spot on Rue Rivoli. Perfect for those who love quality treats in a charming setting.
Extra: Latin Quarter
If you’ve got some extra time on your hands, take a little journey to the charming Latin Quarter. Also known as the University quarter, you’ll find Sorbonne University and lots of international restaurants and cozy Parisian cafes that won’t break the bank. The Latin Quarter is one of Paris’ most famous districts. Stroll around, get happily lost in the cobblestone streets, and treat yourself to a chocolate croissant from some of the local bakeries! Oh, and don’t miss the famous Shakespeare & Co. bookstore there.
Paris Bucket List: An Off-The-Beaten-Path Guide
Tips for One Day in Paris:
- Location matters: Paris has lots of cool districts (they call them arrondissements). If you’re staying for more than one day, go for 1, 2, 5, or 6 – they’re right in the middle of the action.
- Leave the car behind: don’t bother renting a car. They’re too expensive, and traffic in Paris is like a maze. You’ll waste time circling for parking. Stick to walking or the metro.
- Early bird wins: start your day bright and early. Trust me; it makes a difference.
- Book ahead: seriously, book your tickets in advance. It’s a game-changer for a one-day Paris adventure.
- Explore on foot or by metro: walking or metro-hopping is the way to go. It saves time, and you’ll stumble upon some cool spots you might miss otherwise.
- Watch your stuff: unfortunately, pickpocketing is a thing in touristy places. Keep your belongings close and secure.
- Tipping is nice: while not a must like in the U.S., it’s a nice touch to leave 5-10% if you get excellent service. Who knows, you might want to come back!