One Day Paris Itinerary – Map, Guide & Tips

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How to See Paris in One Day

It may be dubbed the ‘City of Lights’, but this is definitely an understatement. Paris is rich in art, culture, and food, so it surely has much more to offer than it’s beautifully lit streets. With all of that, no wonder the French capital is one of the world’s most popular destinations.

Paris needs days to be properly explored, but if you only have a day in Paris, you can still cover the highlights and most iconic sites with our one day Paris itinerary and travel guide, where you’ll find a complete one day itinerary of all the most important must see Paris attractions, with an interactive map, organised to make the best use of your time.

We also share recommendations for central places to stay, ideas about where to eat local food, and tips about how to make the most of your 24 hours in Paris.

one day Paris

When to Visit Paris

A year-round destination, the best time to visit Paris for a day really depends on the traveler’s interests and criteria. The optimum time to visit is during spring and fall as the weather is usually perfect around these times of the year.

You’ll also get better deals on hotels and tours. It’s also better to avoid the tourist crowds that flock to the city during the summer months. 

If sightseeing the highlights of Paris is a priority for you, you’d better avoid July and August, in particular. On the other hand, if you’re more of a budget traveler and the winter cold is no big deal to you, then traveling from November till February could be cheaper.

Plus, if you’re a shopping enthusiast in Paris, you don’t want to miss Les Soldes, the winter sales that takes place from early January till mid-February.

Is this your first time visiting France? Get all the information you need in our France Travel Guide, including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Paris gardens in spring

Paris Trip Resources

Flying

Fly into Paris Charles de Gaulle or Orly Airport.

Driving

Drive in from Europe or hire a car in France.

Travel Insurance

Cover medical expenses, delays and lost luggage.

Getting to Paris

Flying

When flying to Paris, you have the choice of two airports, Charles de Gaulle is 33km from the city, it is the main international airport, and all the major airlines land here, or Orly which is only 13km from the city and is where several of the low-cost carriers land.

The quickest and cheapest way to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle is by train. The RER B travels between the airport and Paris, stopping at the following stations in the city, Denfert-Rochereau, Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame, Châtelet-Les-Halles, and Gare du Nord. the train runs every 10-15 minutes and takes between 25-35 minutes depending on which stop you choose. There is a free shuttle bus from the airport terminals to the station.

There is also a bus from Charles de Gaulle airport to Opera in Paris, they run between every 15 minutes and every 30 minutes depending on the time of day, and take about 60 minutes to get to Opera.

From Orly Airport the trains run every 4-7 minutes and take 25-35 minutes to get to the city. There is a free Orlyval shuttle that connects the terminals to the station.

The OrlyBus is a direct service between the airport and Paris, Denfert Rochereau, the buses run every 15-20 minutes and the journey time is about 30 minutes.

Find out more about the train and bus timetables and tickets for both Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports here.

Where to Stay in Paris

Hostel

St Christopher’s Inn Paris is a hostel, conveniently located right by Gard du Nord train station. The hostel offers a variety of rooms including doubles, twins, and 4, 6, 8 & 10 bed dorms, some with private and some with shared bathrooms.

The hostel offers 2 bars and a chill-out room for relaxing after exploring the city. Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur are only a 15 minute walk away.

Budget

Generator Paris, a luxury hostel and boutique hotel, is a great place to stay in Paris. Located in the lively 10th arrondissement, it’s right across the street from the Colonel Fabien metro station and within walking distance from the train station, Gare du Nord.

The accommodation itself is incredibly clean, the staff are super friendly and the rooms stylish and comfortable – a perfect place to lay your head after a full-on Paris itinerary.

Mid Range

Hotel Bastille Speria is located in the trendy Marais district, home to lots of fabulous shops, bars and restaurants. Place de la Bastille and its famous opera house are just 350m from the hotel. You can also walk to the town hall and the Georges Pompidou centre in 20 minutes.

The hotel offers wonderfully designed modern rooms with en suite bathrooms, they also have a working area with a desk. There is a buffet breakfast available every morning and can be served in the comfort of your room. You can also relax in the 2 lounge living-room, and enjoy daily newspapers.

Luxury

If you prefer a little more glitz and glamour, the Hotel des Grands Boulevards in the eclectic 2nd arrondissement is the ideal hotel for your one day Paris itinerary.

The style is 18th century Paris luxe, the staff wear jeans to deliver impeccable but informal service, and the rooms are just gorgeous.

What to See & Do in Paris

Our Paris one day itinerary is walkable, but we suggest using the Metro in some places, especially between Notre Dame and Montmartre – you’ll find details in the itinerary. 

Or, if you prefer to have your day organised for you, check out these highly rated top ten Paris in a day walking tours and place yourself in the hands of a local expert.

Paris One Day Itinerary Interactive Map

How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Morning

Go Up the Eiffel Tower

The first thing to do in Paris is head to the wrought iron masterpiece that is the Eiffel Tower, high on any Paris bucket list, before it get’s busy with crowds. You absolutely must book tickets in advance, the queue for the city’s most famous landmark can be crazy!

Completed in 1889 to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognisable city landmarks in the world today. The tallest structure in the world until 1930, it took 300 steel workers two years, two months and five days to construct the Tower. 

The Eiffel Tower views from all the levels level are breathtaking – take the lift, unless you are super-fit, as there are a punishing 1665 stairs to the top!

Avoid the year-round very long queues for tickets which start to form by mid-morning and reserve a spot on this highly recommended direct access guided tour which includes skip the line tickets right to the top and the company of a certified and experienced guide who will share inside information about this iconic Parisian landmark and its surroundings.

TOP TIP: One of the best places to get photos of the iconic Eiffel Tower is Place du Trocadero and the Trocadero Gardens. If you’re happy for an early start, then sunrise is a great time to take photos here due to the sun coming up at just the right angle. You’ll also have the place to yourself!

Eiffel Tower from Trocadero at sunrise

Stroll Along the Seine

On your way to the next destination, enjoy a morning walk by Paris’ most famous river, the Seine. It’s one of the best things to do in Paris for a day and a great opportunity to take in marvellous views and experience the vitality and buzz of the city.

It will take you around 50 minutes to walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre Museum. If you really don’t want to walk then get the RER C Line from Champ de Mars Eiffel Tower to the Musée d’Orsay stop, but we warn you, you’re missing out on street art, live music, cute shops, incredible views and the best je ne sais quoi in Paris.

TOP TIP: Keep the the Left Bank, or Rive Gauche, of the Seine for the best atmosphere. Although called the Left Bank, it is actually the southern side of the river, an area is known for its cultural history and the writers, artists, and philosophers who lived there. In fact, it’s where they say that Paris “learned to think”

quai Voltaire houses and river seine

Visit the Louvre Museum

Next, you’ll want to head to the Louvre Museum, another iconic site you can’t miss when in Paris. And even if you’re not really into museums, the Louvre is a different experience.

Past home to Kings of France and set in front of the beautifully formal 17th century Jardin des Tuileries, the Louvre is a stunning architectural treasure in its own right.

The museum boasts an incredible collection of the world’s most prominent works of art from the seventh century BC to the mid-19th century and includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and the statue of Venus de Milo, presumed to be Aphrodite, goddess of love. There will be something that speaks to you here, you just need to find it!

This is another Paris behemoth, which is almost impossible to visit on the day without tickets. And as you only have a day, and a lot to see, we highly recommend booking a timed entrance ticket in advance.

TOP TIP: Be sure to visit the Apollo Gallery, one of the must see rooms in the museum. The walls and ceilings are covered in beautiful frescoes and every surface that surrounds them is dripping in gold – it’s the most golden room we’ve ever seen!

The Louvre glass pyramid from outside

Afternoon

Visit the Luxembourg Gardens

Just a five minute walk south from our recommended lunch spot, Freddy’s (see where to eat in Paris), and situated on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, are the Luxembourg Gardens, home to the splendid 15th century Palais du Luxembourg, now a Government building closed to the public. 

But the real draw here are the gardens, inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence, the gardens were created by Queen Marie de Medici, mother of King Louis XIII, in 1612, and are a haven of lush peace in the manic city, where locals come to play boules, chess and bridge, and stroll the tranquil pathways.

Discover Sainte-Chapelle

The royal chapel of Sainte-Chapelle is a hidden gem of Gothic style, and was intended to house precious Christian relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns, which is now housed in Notre Dame.

It is best known for it’s simply stunning stained glass, which is arranged across fifteen windows, each fifteen metres high. The stained glass panes, 70% of which are original, depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

This is one of my favourite churches in Europe, the ligh coming in through the glass, the rich colours woven together, and the atmosphere they produce, is breathtaking.

Now that Notre Dame is less accessible because of the 2019 fire, Sainte-Chapelle has become much more visited. We recommend booking skip the line tickets so you can beat the queues and make the most of your time in this wonderful place.

Admire Notre Dame Cathedral

You’ll find yourself in awe of of the mighty Notre Dame de Paris on the Île-de-la-Cite, which together with its neighbour Île Saint-Louis, are the only surviving river islands in Paris. 

This most famous Gothic cathedral from the medieval ages is best known for its magnificent architecture, as well as the historic events it has witnessed. It not only hosted the coronations of Emperor Napoleon I and King Henry VI, but it also survived the French Revolution and two World Wars, to say the least.

Most recently, the UNESCO World Heritage Site suffered a vicious fire in April 2019. Sadly, some parts of the Catholic cathedral were badly damaged and will take years to be restored. This means that you cannot currently visit inside the cathedral itself.

Instead, head to Notre Dame square, which is located in front of the cathedral. Since 2006, this square has been known as Place Jean-Paul II and is a gathering place for people.

On one side of the square, you can see a statue of Charlemagne created by sculptor Louis Rochet. Underneath the square, you can visit the archeological Crypt du Parvis, which shows archaeological remains discovered during excavations in the 60s and 70s.

TOP TIP: It’s a good one hour walk from Notre Dame to Montmartre, your next stop, so we suggest using the Paris Metro. Cross the river on Pont de l’Archevêché, the narrowest road bridge in Paris, and jump onto Line 4 heading north at Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, and get off at Barbès Rochechouart. Once you get to Montmartre, there is a funicular railway to take you up the highest hill in Paris, if you don’t fancy the walk.

Notre Dame before the fire

Wander the Montmartre District

The artsy and unashamedly romantic neighborhood of Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement a a wonderful place to slowly meander the cobbled streets, following in the footsteps of legendary artists such as Picasso and Van Gogh, or maybe re-live the movie, Amélie. 

Everything from the charming cafes and bistros, to the galleries and professional artists at the busy Place du Tertre help to immerse you in an unforgettable Parisienne experience.

To end this wonderful stroll, there’s no better spot than the one in front of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Coeur, where you can watch the sunset, with the entire city laid at your feet.

cobbled street with cafes and tables outside, Sacre Couer in the distance

Evening

Pose Next to the Moulin Rouge

If you’re a fan of the Baz Luhrmann film staring Nicole Kidman, then you can’t miss snapping a picture in front of the iconic red windmill, the Moulin Rouge, in Quartier Pigalle, at the foot Montmartre between the 9th and the 18th arrondissements.

Pigalle has a reputation for sleaze, but that’s a bit out-dated now – you’ll find a younger crowd who are more interested in the cool music clubs in the area, than the sex shops and peep shows, or the can-can for that matter.

If you’re looking for the real deal, take in the world-famous cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge itself, where a troupe of 100 artists, including 60 Doris Girls, and a parade in 1,000 costumes of feathers, rhinestones and sequins will make your night!

Moulin rouge lit at night

Take a Seine River Cruise

Discover Paris from a whole different perspective. Departing from Pont Neuf and gliding under the river’s famous bridges, with Paris lit up around you, is a really special experience, especially if you’re in the city for romance. 

River Seine and Notre Dame lit at night

Go to the Champs-Élysées

The perfect way to end your day is at the Champs-Élysées, the most famous avenue in Paris. There, you can enjoy the lights the world speaks of, from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe at Place de l’Étoile, and all the fine shopping stores in between.

You can also spot the Eiffel Tower as it shines across Paris, when its lit every evening for five minutes every hour on the hour.

TOP TIP: Did you know that you can climb to the Arc de Triomphe rooftop? The view from the top of the arch is worth climbing the 284 stairs for, as you survey all of Paris. This is still a slightly more off the beaten track climb than the Eiffel Tower, but becoming more popular by the day, so you should book skip the line tickets to be sure of direct access to the rooftop.

Paris street at night

Where to Eat in Paris

Freddy’s

The busy Rue de Seine, across the Pont des Arts from the Louvre, is home to Freddy’s. This is a friendly wine bar that offers a value for money lunchtime set menu during the week, and a selection of delicious small plates that adapt to the seasons, and of course a fantastic wine menu, much of which can be ordered by the glass.

TOP TIP: The Pont des Arts has, in the last ten years or so, become known as the Lock Bridge because of the new tradition of couples attaching personalised padlocks to the railings and throwing the keys into the Seine River, to signify their love. However, in 2015 the weight of over one million padlocks caused parts of the bridge to collapse and many were removed. People persist in attaching padlocks and you will still see many there, but please don’t place one yourself – use one of the metal padlock trees around the city.

Le Cadoret

Based in a former corner cafe, so typical of Paris, Le Cadoret is an affordable modern bistro with stylish decor and service, run by a husband and wife team in off-the-tourist-path Belleville neighbourhood. You’ll find classic and modern French dishes on a menu that changes daily, made with ingredients that are seasonal and sourced from local markets.  

TOP TIP: Although this is not a tourist trap restaurant, it can get busy with locals and Parisians who know where to eat, so make sure to book in advance.

Top Five Paris Travel Tips

  1. The best way to get around is the metro. Paris is a big city and the main attractions are scattered far and wide. The Paris Visite travel pass allows you to use all of the public transport networks including the metro, tramway, bus, RER and SNCF Transilien networks. A one day Paris pass for zones 1-3 costs €13.20. Form zones 1-5, which includes both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, its €27.80. Be aware that a common scam is for someone to offer to help you purchase metro tickets, only to scam you of money and buy a cheap ticket that’s only valid for one journey. Be sure to only buy tickets online here, from the machines or at the designated kiosk directly.
  1. Don’t bother buying thr Paris Museum Pass – if you follow our itinerary, you won’t save any money at all, in fact you’ll waste quite a few euros, sacré bleu!
  1. A common misconception about French people is that they are arrogant and rude, which is really not the case. Learn a few simple words of French and you’ll be smiled at all day!
  1. Be comfortable for your day in Paris – you’ll be walking a lot so comfy shoes or trainers are a must, and a rucksack, preferably pick-pocket safe, will help your shoulders and posture during your long and full day.
  1. Don’t waste your time at restaurants, cafes, or bakeries in touristy spots. The best and most delicious croissant is most probably found in an unknown boulangerie in a hidden side alley!
Metro station in a busy Paris street

More Than One Day in Paris

If you have just another half a day or you’re in Paris for one day more, the following attractions would all make great additions to your Paris itinerary.

Explore Versailles

Explore the wonderfully opulent Chateau de Versailles and its vast gardens, one time home of King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette.

The queues at Versailles can be monstrous, so much so that the pleasure you’ll get from visiting evaporates, before you even enter the chateau! Make sure to get a priority Versaille ticket online before you visit.

Be a Kid at Disneyland Paris

Live your childhood dream and take a day trip from Paris to Disneyland Paris; you can never be too old for that! 44km east of the city, you can get a taxi there for around €60 for the one hour journey, or ask your hotel to arrange a transfer for you. Start early and book your Paris Disneyland tickets well in advance, you want to make the most of the day!

Discover the Musee d’Orsay & Musee de l’Orangerie

Visit the Musée d’Orsay, housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The Orsay museum exhibits mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography, and is a great spot for a rainy day in Paris.

Just over the river is the Musee de l’Orangerie, home to a 20th century European art collection and showcasing eight of Monet’s fabulous water lilies murals.

Go Shopping!

If you’re a shopaholic, splurge at Galeries Lafayette, the upmarket French department store chain. Its flagship store is on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris and stocks only the best brands. Even if you’re on a budget, it’s a fantastic place for window shopping and people watching.

Written for The Gap Decaders by Nadine Arab of Curls en Route

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