How to Spend a Day in Paris
Planning on spending just one day in Paris? Sure, it’s not very long. Trying to see the best of Paris in one 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 1 day in Paris!
In this post, we’re going to show you how to spend a day in Paris. Being locals in Paris, we know the city well, and we can help you to find the perfect plan for Paris in a day. This tried-and-true Paris one-day itinerary 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 what to see in Paris for a 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 when you visit Paris in 1 day – so be sure to take a good breakfast and wear your better walking shoes!
These are the best places to visit in Paris in one day, a Paris 1-day itinerary by locals who utterly adore it.
1 Day in Paris Itinerary – Our Proposal for Paris in a Day
Here’s a quick overview of what this plan has you doing during 1 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 see in Paris in one day.
One Day In Paris: Things to Do in Paris in One Day
Cité | Tuileries Garden | The Latin Quarter | Saint-Germain-des-Prés | Eiffel Tower
Below is a detailed guide to how to spend a day in Paris in the order that makes the most sense in terms of getting around and minimizing transport. Ideally, you’ll start this 1-day Paris itinerary 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 Notre Dame, one of the most recognizable structures in the city?
Admire the imposing Gothic structure of Notre Dame Cathedral from the outside. 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 on Ile-de-la-Cité, the small island in the middle of the Seine River. It is here where 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 things to do in Paris in one day are located in Ile-de-la-Cité.
From Notre Dame, enjoy a short stroll through the charming Flower Market to the Sainte Chapelle. Built in the 13th century by King Saint Louis, 80% of the walls are covered by remarkable colored glass windows; it is amazing!
A visit to 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 1 day in Paris itinerary 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 a good time, visiting the Conciergerie is also highly recommended but again, be sure to buy your skip-the-line tickets in advance to ensure that you don’t waste a moment of your 1-day trip to Paris by standing in line.
TIP: Save time and money with this skip-the-line combo ticket Sainte Chapelle + Conciergerie!
3. WALK ALONG THE SEINE TO THE LOUVRE AND THE TUILERIES GARDEN
This Paris itinerary 1 day continues west on the Seine’s Right Bank. 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 admire the Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris), 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 one-day itinerary Paris does not consider a visit to the Louvre Museum, it is well worth getting close to admire the Louvre Pyramid, one of the favorite photo spots in Paris.
4. STROLL ALONG THE TUILERIES GARDEN
Then you can stroll around the Tuileries Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris and also the oldest. 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 and perhaps a quick eat at one of the guinguettes (food & drinks kiosks) inside the park.
5. EXPLORE THE LATIN QUARTER
At Palais Royal /Musée du Louvre metro station, you can take the metro Line 7 to the Latin Quarter and stop at Place Monge station.
While this area in the fifth Arrondissement is known as the center of university life in Paris, it’s also where Lutetia – Roman Paris (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 the Arènes de Lutèce for free, a Roman theatre that 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 without entering the museum.
6. DUCK INSIDE THE PANTHÉON
The Panthéon is a church-turned-temple dedicated to “France’s 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 (paid entrance), 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 square 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 lively square may be touristy, but it’s also beautiful, bustling, and worth stopping by during your Paris one-day trip.
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.
8. MAKE YOUR WAY TO SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS
After lunch, this one-day Paris itinerary takes you to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the most picturesque neighborhoods of Paris. This is a gorgeous area to explore in the sixth Arrondissement, 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 cafés and bars well worth a stop for a late coffee or an early aperitif with some people watching.
9. CLIMB UP THE EIFFEL TOWER
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, and is possible to cancel and get a full refund if there’s any problem.
10. END YOUR ONE DAY IN PARIS WITH A SEINE RIVER NIGHT CRUISE WITH DINNER
After your Eiffel Tower experience, end your one-day in Paris itinerary in style with a night cruise with 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 choice; just make sure to check all the Seine Boat Tour options and book your favorite one beforehand.
During this Seine 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 Paris in 1 day. Follow this Paris in-a-day itinerary step by step, or change it up to suit your own individual preferences.
Want to See the Louvre Museum During your Paris 1-day Itinerary?
If you’ve long dreamed of visiting the Louvre Museum, you should absolutely go! Structuring a Paris in one 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 Paris one-day 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 with pre-reserved tickets, 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.
What About a Walking Tour for Your Paris One-day Itinerary?
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 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 1-day Paris itinerary at your own pace.
How to Get from and to the Airports of Paris
With only one day in Paris, you don’t want to waste time on things like transportation. Our personal recommendation is to pre-book a Welcome Pickups transfer, a reliable and top-rated private service. Your driver will wait for you outside of the arrivals hall with a sign bearing your name, plus a bottle of water and a map of the city. Welcome Pickups have introduced strict safety protocols to protect drivers and guests.
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 treat yourself to the pleasure of waking up with an amazing Eiffel Tower balcony view? Some of Paris’ top luxury hotels, well known for their great facilities and amazing interiors, also come with the best views of the Eiffel Tower, especially beautiful during its night show.
HOTELS AT LE MARAIS
Le Marais 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 bar and restaurant options around.
LE PAVILLON DE LA REINE & SPA, Paris 3, $$$$
Le Pavillon de la Reine is a luxury hotel & spa located at Place des Vosges in the Marais. The rooms are individually decorated and very spacious. Facilities include a spa, fitness center, and hammam. Its beautiful secluded garden is perfect to end your day with a drink.
HOTEL DU PETIT MOULIN, Paris 3, $$$
Located at the heart of Marais and entirely designed by Christian Lacroix, this hotel offers the best combination of history + design. Guests can use complimentary bicycles and enjoy free access to the spa at Hotel Pavillon de la Reine, a 10-min walk away.
HOTEL JOSEPHINE BONAPARTE, Paris 4, $$$$
Located in Le Marais, in a former convent, Hotel de Joséphine is inspired by Napoleon’s wife, Joséphine de Bonaparte. Its uniquely decorated rooms are elegant and romantic, and its cozy saloons are the perfect place for a last glass of champagne.
HOTELS AT LE QUARTIER LATIN
If you prefer to stay in the Left Bank, Le Quartier Latin is a central and lively area with many bars and restaurants nearby, plus you are never far from the Luxembourg Gardens. Prices in Le Quartier Latin are slightly cheaper than in Saint- Germain.
HOTEL LA LANTERNE; Paris 5, $$$$
Hotel La Lanterne has an excellent location (between Notre Dame and Luxembourg Gardens), attractive rooms, and some great facilities like a spa, pool, or private garden. Perfect to finish your exploring days in a more relaxing way.
OBSERVATOIRE LUXEMBOURG: Paris 5, $$$
Located close to Luxembourg Gardens, we find its design pretty cool. But of course, it is not all about decoration: the hotel’s comfortable rooms, French Brasserie, modern facilities, and cool staff are the perfect combination for a great stay in Paris.
Getting Around Paris in 1 Day
We’ve structured this guide to visiting Paris in one day to be extremely walkable, and most of the time, you shouldn’t need any transportation other than your two feet to navigate Paris.
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 Paris 1-day 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.
Have a look at our other Paris Itineraries
- 2 days in Paris Itinerary
- 3 days in Paris Itinerary
- 4 days in Paris Itinerary
- 5 days in Paris Itinerary
- 6 days in Paris Itinerary
- 7 days in Paris Itinerary
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