Though it’d be personally unacceptable for me to plan only one day in Paris, things like this happen in life and frankly, I’d take this chance than not having to see my favourite city again at all. But for those travelling with just 24 hrs to see the City of Lights for the first time, here’s a suggestion on how I’d go about my itinerary.
As you already know there’s no shortage of landmarks to see in Paris but my advice is don’t try to do much. There’s always a better time to explore more and just try to enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. From its elegant boulevards, romantic bridges and its charming café terraces. Just try to soak it all in.
I certainly know well the feeling; you couldn’t wait to see the most iconic structure of Paris up close so why not put the Eiffel Tower on your first agenda? Like what I did here, wake up very early to beat the crowd. Hopefully as soon as there’s sunlight. You can get to the tower via the metro called Trocadero. Observe the Iron Lady from the square and walk your way towards it passing through the romantic Seine River until you get that once again a pinch-me-I’m-under-the-Eiffel-Tower feeling. Don’t forget to take in details of the tower and remember that it’s ok to get carried away and cry. 😅
Today’s not a probably a good time to climb up the tower because of the horrible queue so proceed to your next destination. From Champ de Mars metro station on the other side of the Trocadero, take the RER C to a Purple Line going to Concorde station. This will take you to one of Paris’ biggest historical squares: Place de la Concorde with its Egyptian obelisk and two water fountains. As mentioned previously in this post, this place has a dark past because of the beheadings of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette that took place here.
Next to Place de la Concorde is a sprawling garden called Jardin des Tuileries. You can have a coffee break here and try to act like a local by sitting in one of those inviting green metal chairs around the pond while enjoying a bagel. Trust me that you will need this rest because it will be quite a walk exploring this garden and going to the next point of interest: Musée du Louvre.
Find your way to the Louvre via the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the garden. Unless you’re into arts, again I recommend saving another day to enter this massive museum as it can take half a day to explore its gems. But it’s worth seeing how the modern glass pyramid entrance fits in the Louvre Palace backdrop. If you really want to see atleast one museum in Paris though, I’d recommend the Musée d’Orsay which can be around 15-min walk from the Louvre. I’ll be covering museums in a separate post.
It’s probably around lunchtime at this point and the only cafe that I was able to personally try around the area was Café Le Nemours near the Palais-Royal metro. It’s in one of my “do as the locals do” checklist so try to get a seat outside and “people watch” while eating a croque-monsieur. It’s also very convenient because it’s right up the metro station (beautifully adorned with a crown Metro too) to take you to my next suggested location – the bohemian district of Montmartre.
If you can get a free informative tour in Paris, I’d suggest you do it here and try to understand how this place nurtured famous artists like Renoir and Picasso. Discover Walks runs a free walking tour here everyday at 230 PM and the starting point is in another famous movie location – The Moulin Rouge. The guide will lead you to the cobbled streets of this hilly district all the way up to Sacré-Cœur with a scenic city view of Paris which was covered in my last post. On your way back after the tour, you can check out the shops here for some souvenirs.
By now, you’ve seen quite a bit of Paris and my best way to have a recap of Paris’ landmarks is via a Seine River cruise. I prefer one right before the sunset so I can catch the glittering of the Eiffel tower without having to go back to Trocadero. Also, it’s a good way to make a mental note of all the other landmarks by the Seine that you missed on this day. 😅
The sun is already down at the end of the cruise but the night is still young and you can still try to squeeze one more landmark. Make it the Arc de Triomphe. If you’re still not hungry, you can try to climb it up and see the 12 avenues spreading out of it from its viewing deck. Otherwise, explore the beautiful avenue of Champs Élysées close to it while looking for a place to eat. You can climb up the 234 stairs of the Arc after that. 😅
I always like ending my last day in Paris by having another look at the Eiffel Tower. If you still have the energy and the weather is just right, my suggestion is to lie down the Champ de Mars garden with a drink and observe the tower light up up close. And probably have that kissing photo with your special someone. 😉