November 12, 2016

One Day in Paris

One Day in Paris was originally published as a guest post on Lauren on Location, but now it is here for good!

The only sad thing about this idea is that you only have 24 hours in Paris. After 5 years of visiting and living in this city, I can tell you that it still isn’t enough time to completely delve into this incredible place. But you only have one day for now, and we’re going to assume two important factors: 1) you have an insane amount of energy to stay out all day long, and 2) you’re ready to splurge a little bit because, after all, you’re only in Paris for this one day!

Breakfast at Angelina’s

Metro line 1, station Tuileries

The most scrumptious way to start a Parisian day is at Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli. This 19th century tea room boasts a pricey and extensive brunch, but is also home to wonderful pastries and the world’s best hot chocolate. Enjoy the bustling waiters, soft watercolor walls, and mix of locals and tourists alike.

Place de la Concorde, Tuileries Garden & Louvre

Walk across Rue de Rivoli

You’re right in the heart of French history with the Place de la Concorde to your right (where the Revolution and the Reign of Terror guillotined over 2,500 people) and the home to one of the best art collections in the world in the Louvre to your left (originally built in the 12th century as a castle fortress). You don’t have time to go into the Louvre today, but the courtyard with the pyramid provides plenty of photo opportunities.

Picasso Museum or Musée Carnavalet

Metro line 1, station Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre or Louvre - Rivoli to station Saint-Paul

Depending on the weather, you may want to duck into one of the wonderful museums in Le Marais district. The recently renovated and reopened Picasso Museum is a must for modern art lovers and fans of Picasso. If modern art isn’t your thing, then the Musée Carnavalet is a great option for wandering. The Carnavalet is my personal favorite, detailing the history of Paris through eclectic artifacts, personal collections, and 19th century rooms, all in two giant connected medieval mansions. I like to call it the “attic of Paris.” It’s also free, which may be important after your delicious indulgence at Angelina’s earlier.

Place des Vosges & Lunch at Rue des Rosiers

Walk around Le Marais

If the sky is blue, there’s no better place to watch Paris stroll by than in the Place des Vosges. You can trace the edges of the square underneath the arched hallways, peeking into art galleries, taking in the sweet aromas from the cafés, and visiting Victor Hugo’s home (also free). When you’ve finished relaxing in the Place des Vosges, wind your way toward Rue des Rosiers to find any number of lunch spots. For a classic ivy-covered French café, look no further than Chez Marianne at the corner of Rue des Rosiers and Rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais. In this area of Le Marais, you can also find vintage shops and gelato to extend your time in the most adorable neighborhood of Paris.

Île Saint-Louis & Île de la Cité

Walk across Pont Louis-Philippe to Pont Saint-Louis

Keep walking in the direction of the grand and spectacular Notre-Dame. It is a miracle that this cathedral has survived over 850 years of changes in society, world conflicts, and reconstructions. Take special note of the flying buttresses built to stabilize the structure and the large rose windows on either side of the nave. The line may be long to get inside, but it moves quickly, and you can be in and out of the building in under 15 minutes.


Metro line 4, station Cité to Metro line 2, station Anvers

Welcome to the historically bohemian corner of Paris. Montmartre winks at its cheeky past but is now buzzing with tourists and peddlers. Ignore anyone who tries to talk to you, and go directly up the hill through the souvenir shops to take the funicular (works with a single metro ticket) up to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. You can walk right into the church for free and admire the many ornate and detailed mosaics, with the most magnificent one being on the ceiling dome above the altar. When you walk out, turn to your right to stumble into the Place du Tertre, where you will find the Parisian painters selling everything from café scenes to your very own portrait. Wander your way downhill to the west, and eventually you’ll end up on Boulevard de Clichy at the Moulin Rouge. While not as big or flashy as in the movie musical, it’s still fun to snap a photo!

Arc de Triomphe & Les Champs-Élysées

Metro line 2, station Blanche to station Charles de Gaulle - Étoile

Walk to your left after exiting the metro, and you are on the grand boulevard of Paris, the Champs-Élysées (say “shawnz-uh-lee-zay”)! This giant avenue shines best during the Christmas markets season, but is still impressive throughout the year. You can opt to walk (about 1 mile) or take the metro to the Champs-Élysées - Clemenceau station. Take the street between the two gorgeous palais: the larger Grand Palais will be on your right with the Petit Palais on your left. This street leads you right onto the majestic Pont Alexandre III and toward the golden dome of Les Invalides where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried.

Dinner Shopping at Rue Cler
Turn right on Rue Saint-Dominique, then left on Rue Cler

Rue Cler is Rick Steves’ favorite street in Paris, and for good reason: it has everything you could possibly need! If you’re already hungry, you can stop into any café and order the traditional “café gourmand” to tide you over until dinner. The waiter will bring you an espresso joined by three mini dessert samples to give you that much needed jolt of caffeine and sugar. Jump back into the pedestrians-only street to collect your perfect Parisian picnic of anything you could possibly want: breads, meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, pastries, cookies, and, of course, your favorite bottle of wine from Le Repaire de Bacchus!

Dinner Picnic & Sunset at the Tour Eiffel
Go toward the tower!

You have at least three great choices for a picnic location: on the Champs de Mars (most people), on the grass around the Trocadéro (some people), or, my most beloved spot: past the Bir-Hakeim bridge and on the cobblestone banks of the Seine (sometimes zero people). Get comfortable, and make sure you look in advance to know what time the sun will be setting. In the winter months, it can set as early as 5:00pm, and in the summer months as late as 10:00pm! It’s important to know this to time your arrival at the tower correctly. The Eiffel will begin to glow around dusk, but it will only sparkle on the hour after it gets dark. This translates to the first sparkle of a summer evening at 11:00pm sometimes! Enjoy your meal slowly, sipping your wine and trying new tastes, and you won’t have any problem passing the time like a true Parisian.


I prefer to end my Parisian evenings at the Eiffel Tower. But if you’re still feeling up to more Parisian experiences and trying to squeeze in as much as possible, head down to the classic Saint-Germain-des-Pres on the Left Bank or the Bastille neighborhood for the younger crowd’s version of live music and open air bars. Parisian nightlife is bright and happy, and will bring you into the daylight and onto your next destination.

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This is one exceptionally full day in the French capital! But it can be and has been done, by myself and with my friends. These places made me fall happily in love with Paris, and I trust they will charm you as well. I hope this long and beautiful day in Paris will inspire many more hours than just 24 in the City of Light someday!

Find the rest of my navigational GPSmyCity app article cities HERE.