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Planning on spending just one day in Paris? Sure, it’s not very long. Trying to see the best of Paris in a day is no easy task: the French Capital is an enormous, layered, and deeply complex city with something interesting to visit in every district of Paris. With a little advance planning, though, you’ll be surprised at just how many Paris’ highlights and top monuments you can cover with just one day in Paris!
In this post, we’re going to help you plan your 1 day in Paris. Being locals in Paris, we know the city well and we can help you to find the perfect itinerary for Paris in one day. This tried-and-true path is one that we’ve walked ourselves many times with friends visiting us and it goes through well-known sights like Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower to some of our favorite sights in Paris.
We’ve put together this guide to seeing Paris in 1 day to help ensure that you fall in love with this magnificent city–and hopefully, make sure that you leave already scheming about how you can return.
This one day in Paris itinerary is not a leisurely itinerary –that’s just not an option with only one day in Paris – so be sure to take a good breakfast and wear your better walking shoes.
Here’s how to see Paris in a day, from locals in Paris who utterly adore it.
Paris in One Day Itinerary Overview
Here’s a quick overview of what this plan has you doing during one day in Paris, for quick reference
- Notre Dame (from outside)
- Cité and Sainte Chapelle
- A stroll along the Seine
- The Latin Quarter
- Climb up the Eiffel Tower
- Night Seine River Cruise with Dinner
Now, let’s see how that looks in our detailed guide to what to do in Paris in 1 day.
One Day In Paris: What to Do in Paris for A Day
Below is a detailed guide to what to do in Paris if you only have a day, in the order that makes the most sense in terms of getting around and minimizing transport. Ideally, you’ll start the day as soon as possible, and keep going until you’ve seen everything!
1. START AT NOTRE DAME
What better spot to start your one day in Paris than at Notre Dame, one of the most recognizable structures in the city?
Admire the imposing gothic structure of Notre Dame Cathedral. Built in the 13th century, this magnificent edifice has recently survived a devastating fire, yet she is still standing proudly as the symbol of the city.
Despite Notre Dame currently being closed, you can still admire its main façade with the huge rose window which is a dedication to Our Lady of Paris. The 28 sculptures below Notre Dame represent the kings of Judah and Israel, the ancestors of Christ, and just like the real King, they lost their heads during the French Revolution!
2. EXPLORE ILE DE LA CITÉ (AND VISIT THE SAINTE CHAPELLE)
Once the epicenter of political, religious, and social life, it’s in Ile de la Cité, the small island in the middle of the Seine River, that the first Royal Palace stood as well as the city’s main religious and institutional buildings. As such, it is not surprising that some of the best places to see in Paris in one day are located on Ile de la Cité.
From Notre Dame, enjoy a short stroll through the charming Flower Market to Sainte Chapelle. Built in the 13th century by King Saint Louis, 80% of the walls are covered by remarkable colored glass windows.
Visiting the Sainte Chapelle does not take too much time and we definitely recommend it as long as you buy skip the line tickets in advance – you don’t want to waste half of your day in Paris waiting in line!
Your last stop is to the Conciergerie, built as a medieval palace, but most famous as the prison and last home of Queen Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution.
If you’re making good time, visiting the Conciergerie is also highly recommended but again, be sure to buy your skip-the-line ticket in advance to ensure that you don’t waste a moment of your one day in Paris by standing in line!
3. WALK ALONG THE SEINE TO THE LOUVRE AND THE TUILERIES GARDEN
It takes a little under half an hour to stroll from Cité to the Tuileries Gardens, but there’s plenty to admire along the way: definitely be sure to take note of Pont Neuf, Pont des Arts, and Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower on the left bank.
The Louvre Palace was initially built as a royal palace for the Kings of France until King Louis XIV decided to move with his court to Versailles. Today the Louvre Museum is one of the world’s most visited museums and certainly one of the most iconic places to see in Paris. While this Paris 1 day itinerary does not consider a visit to the Louvre Museum, it is well worth to get close to admire Pei’s glass pyramid, one of the favorite photo spots in Paris.
Then you can stroll along the Tuileries Garden, the oldest public park in Paris and also one of the most beautiful. Designed by André Le Notre, the landscape designer who also designed the Gardens of Versailles, it was the Tuileries Palace’s backyard until this was burned by the Paris Commune in 1871. Stop for a coffee in the sun at one of the guinguettes inside the park.
At Palais Royal /Musée du Louvre you can take the metro Line 7 to the Latin Quarter and stop at Place Monge station.
While this area is known as the center of the university life in Paris, it’s also where the Roman City (IC AD) was born. It is believed that Lutetia’s Roman Forum, the center of religious and civil life during the Roman times, was located at current rue Soufflot, while today’s rue Saint Jacques was one of the two main streets in Roman times.
Today, it is possible to visit for free Les Arènes de Lutèce, a theatre which was constructed in the 1st century AD and was where people came to watch gladiatorial combats. In the area, there are also the Roman Baths, today part of the Cluny Museum, but they can be seen from Boulevard Saint Michel.
The Panthéon is a church-turned-temple dedicated to “Les Grands Hommes”. These eminent personalities who shaped France’s national identity are interred in the crypt and a permanent exhibition gives details about their lives and works. If you decide to visit the Panthéon (ticket costs 11.50€) you will also see Foucault’s pendulum with which Léon Foucault demonstrated the Earth’s rotation.
The Pantheon sits inside the beautiful Place du Panthéon, and while you’re there, be sure to take a few moments to admire the piazza itself, the Church Saint Étienne du Mont and the view over the Luxembourg Gardens from rue Soufflot.
7. OR PAY A VISIT TO PLACE DE LA CONTRESCARPE
If you are not that interested in monuments, pay a visit to Place de la Contrescarpe instead. This square may be touristic, but it’s also beautiful, bustling, and worth stopping by during your one day in Paris. This square is crossed by rue Mouffetard, a street food where you can find everything from fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, and wine. Fans of Ernest Hemingway may want to have a look at 74 rue Cardinal Lemoine, one of the streets ending at Place de la Contrescarpe, where the Hemingways rented their first apartment in Paris.
It’s not all hard work and sightseeing, you know. By now you must be hungry and there are plenty of bistros and restaurants at the square or nearby to taste good French food. We recommend doing your research in advance to avoid wasting time looking for a good place to eat. We have some favorite restaurants in the Latin Quarter but there are many more.
After lunch, head to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the most picturesque neighborhoods of Paris. This is a gorgeous area to explore, with its cobbled streets, art galleries, and pretty cafes. You can have a quick look at Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church, the beating heart of this neighborhood. Completed in 558, this beautiful church is the only remaining Romanesque building in Paris.
Then, in streets like rue de Buci, on the other side of Boulevard Saint-Germain, there are plenty of nice cafes and bars well worth a stop for a late coffee or an early aperitif with some people watching.
Before sunset, head to Champ de Mars to climb up the Eiffel Tower, the most iconic monument of Paris. Upstairs, there’s a permanent exhibition to learn about its history plus you have an amazing view of Paris from above.
This is a fantastic place to watch the sunset in Paris, but be sure to secure the date and time slot to visit the Eiffel Tower asap as tickets to the summit sold out pretty fast.
The Eiffel Tower website sells tickets up to 2 months in advance and they are not refundable. With Get Your Guide, instead, you can book your Eiffel Tower summit tickets more than two months in advance plus it is possible to cancel and get a full refund if there’s any problem.
After your Eiffel Tower experience, end your day in Paris in style with a night cruise plus dinner down the Seine River. It’s a nice way to see Paris from the water, and prices for the river cruises are pretty good value.
Most of the boat tours start at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and you will be spoilt for the choice, just make sure to check all the Seine Boat Tour options and book your favorite one beforehand. During this cruise, you will see many of the most famous Paris landmarks, magically illuminated, including the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Conciergerie, and more, while having a typical French dinner and a glass of champagne.
And there you have it a comprehensive itinerary for one day Paris. Follow this Paris in one day itinerary step by step or change it up to suit your own individual preferences.
Map of How to See Paris in 1 Day
To help you visualize the above Paris one day itinerary we’ve put it into a map, which you can also see on Google Maps here.
Want to See the Louvre Museum During your One Day in Paris?
If you’ve long dreamed of visiting the Louvre Museum you should absolutely go! Structuring a Paris in 1 day visit is highly personal, so if that’s the sight you can’t live without, go ahead and swap a visit to the Louvre Museum for strolling the Latin Quarter. After the Louvre head to Saint-Germain-des-Près and follow the rest of the itinerary.
For the Louvre visit, and considering that you only have one day in Paris, we suggest limiting your visit to 2 hours or less. You can book this top-rated Louvre Highlights guided tour which lasts 2 hours and you are sure not to get lost amongst paintings and sculptures. If you prefer a self-guided tour, this article shows how to get the most out of the Louvre in 2 hours or less.
If you’d prefer to have a guide for all or part of your one day in Paris, who can share with you some of the history of this city as well as more local knowledge and insights, then we can recommend this Paris Highlights full-day tour. This tour is a great way to see Paris in a short amount of time: do more in six hours than most people do in three days with this fun-filled tour.
Another alternative is to book this 2.5 hour Cité Walking tour for a great introduction to Paris and its medieval monuments. Then, you can follow the rest of the Paris in one day itinerary at your own pace.
Where to Stay in Paris for a Day
You may or not be spending the night in Paris during your short visit, but just in case, here are some tips for finding the perfect accommodation for your night in Paris.
Booking.com is the best site for booking hotels in Paris. They have good rates and a huge selection of hotels of all kinds plus it is possible to cancel for free if, in the end, you cannot make it to Paris.
HOTEL WITH EIFFEL TOWER VIEWS
If you can afford it, why not treating yourself with the pleasure of going to sleep with an amazing Eiffel Tower view, lit up at night? Some of Paris’ top luxury hotels come also with great views of the Eiffel Tower, especially beautiful during its night show.
HOTELS IN CENTRAL PARIS
If a hotel with Eiffel Tower views is not possible this time, staying centrally and close to a metro stop is the best solution for such a quick trip to Paris. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a beautiful area to stay in Paris, especially if you are visiting Paris for the first time. It is beautiful, central, and there are plenty of bars options around for a late drink.
RELAIS CHRISTINE, Paris 6, $$$$
Set in a 17th-century mansion in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, this is THE kind of hotel that comes to mind when we think about Paris and Saint-Germain. Check out the pictures, you will immediately fell in love with this hotel!
HOTEL TRIANON RIVE GAUCHE, Paris 6, $$$$
Conveniently placed close to the Luxemburg Gardens – on the way to Cité – and with comfortable rooms bigger than the Paris average, Hotel Trianon Rive Gauche is an excellent choice for this area and hotel category.
WELCOME HOTEL, Paris 6, $$$
This cute little hotel with comfortable rooms has the best possible location, between Boulevard Saint-Germain and Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church. Stay in one of the most pretty areas for the best price!
Getting Around During 1 Day in Paris
We’ve structured this guide to visiting Paris in a day to be extremely walkable and most of the time you shouldn’t need any transportation other than your two feet to navigate Paris for a day.
We recommend, however, reading our Metro of Paris quick guide to get familiar with the metro system in Paris as there are a couple of times in this one day in Paris itinerary where the metro comes in handy. For such a short trip and the stops considered, it is not necessary to buy a special metro pass and you will be fine with single metro tickets.
For the ride between the airport to the city, we highly recommend using Welcome Pickups, a private door to door service that takes a lot of the stress and hassle out of taking taxis in Paris. The Welcome driver will be waiting for you at the airport arrivals and the ride is prepaid, which avoids you all the negotiations with taxi drivers on your own in Paris.
Related content and further reads
- 2 days in Paris Itinerary
- 3 days in Paris Itinerary
- 4 days in Paris Itinerary
- 5 days in Paris Itinerary
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