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One Day in Paris: How to Enjoy Paris in a Day

If you’re planning to spend one day in Paris, you’ll want to read this itinerary.

Let’s be honest: having a clear and fun itinerary that features the main attractions and local cuisine is an absolute must. With only one day to spend in Paris, some places can’t be missed.

Even though one day may not seem very long, it can be enough time to see all the city’s extraordinary things if you plan your time right. 

We provide you with a simple yet exciting plan for your day in Paris, including historical places and local spots to enjoy the Paris food and drinks culture.

Eiffel Tower on a sunny day while people picnic on the Champ de Mars

How We Structured This One Day in Paris Itinerary

Before we get to the 1-day Paris itinerary, we’ll talk about our favorite hotels (with the best locations!) just so you can plan your trip better.

But later in the article, we also give you a map (with all the locations we mentioned in the itinerary) and show you other valuable guides we wrote to help you plan your trip to Paris. 

In other words, literally, everything you need to get the most out of your trip to Paris is in this article.

Where to Stay in Paris

While considering what arrondissement to stay in, choose the one with the easiest access to most attractions in Paris that you plan to visit.

Well, we’d say from the 3rd/4th arrondissements (Le Marais) to the 7th arrondissement is where you can find the hotels with the best locations, but Montmartre is also a delightful area.

We will briefly talk about our favorite hotels in Paris below, but you might want to read our detailed guide to the best places to stay in Paris. Alternatively, you might want to stay in a boutique hotel since you’re spending only a day in Paris.

  • Regyn’s Montmartre – It’s not a secret that accommodation in Paris can be costly. Still, the Regyn’s Montmartre is a decent and affordable option in the 18th arrondissement. The area couldn’t be better at their price, within walking distance to the Sacre-Coeur, a supermarket, ATM, and the metro station. Not only that, but some rooms offer a unique view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.  Click here to check availability.
  • Hotel Le Compostelle – If you want a hotel closer to the city center and with a little more comfort than the latter, check out the Hotel Le Compostelle in the 4th arrondissement. The location is also perfect: near the Hotel de Ville and within walking distance of the Notre Dame Cathedral. This art nouveau hotel is surrounded by restaurants (and some good bookstores). All rooms include a TV, hairdryer, free WiFi, and wardrobe. Beyond that, this area is safe for female travelers. Click here to check availability.
  • Grand Hotel des Balcons – If you want a little more comfort than the latter, check out the Grand Hotel des Balcons in the 6th arrondissement. The location of this hotel is also ideal: it’s very close to the Luxembourg Gardens and within walking distance of the metro. More importantly, this hotel is surrounded by restaurants and some good bookstores. All rooms include basic amenities, such as a hairdryer, TV, and wardrobe. Free WiFi included. Moreover, this area is very safe for female travelers. See it on Booking.com
Pont Alexandre III bridge over river Seine

When To Visit Paris

Fortunately, Paris is a beautiful city that has many things to do for tourists all year round. The different seasons hold different charms, and some activities are restricted to specific seasons.

In general, for one day in Paris, it would be recommended to visit in spring when the weather is not too cold and the days are longer. Visiting Paris in spring gives some extra time for sightseeing during the day too.

A great season to visit Paris is summer as the weather is sunny and warm. If you are one for festivals and celebrations, the warmer months are definitely a good time to visit Paris. Along with spring, it is considered peak season, which may make it quite crowdy and possibly more expensive.

The appeal of visiting Paris in the shoulder season during autumn is that Paris streets are a bit quieter, which some tourists prefer. It is also not too cold, and you can still enjoy many attractions and activities.

Paris in the winter is primarily rainy and cold, but if you enjoy the unique charm of snow, this might be the season for you. Beautiful views will be the main attraction during this season, with some more restrictions on outdoor activities.

Overall, Paris can be visited and enjoyed during any season. It depends on the preferences of the individual tourist. However, Paris is the best for the majority between March and August during the warmer months.

How to Get to the City Center from Gare du Nord

There are direct trains from Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon stations to the city center. The travel time is around 10-15 minutes, so it’s very easy to get there.

But, if you’re arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport, know that this airport is connected to Paris by RER B (Parisian express train) with several inner-city stops.

The train from the airport takes around 45 minutes to Châtelet, the center of Paris. 

Pssst: The Paris Pass might be worth your while depending on your itinerary, as it might save you money and time. For instance, a 1-hour Seine Cruise is included in the Paris Pass. Read our review here.

One Day in Paris Itinerary

Paris, the city of lights, is a fantastic place to visit even if it’s just for one day and will definitely leave you wanting to visit again. 

With only 24 hours to spend in Paris, it is vital to make the most of it. Follow this easy guide to different and popular places to visit and spots to refuel on the way.

Your day should be planned around the main attractions, like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but this guide also suggests some other places that you should not miss.

Be sure to rest and refuel at some highly recommended cafes, bars, and restaurants showing off the French cuisine.

Begin At The Notre-Dame

Boat cruising the Seine River in Paris and Notre Dame Cathedral in the background

The outside of Notre Dame is one of Paris’s most popular and impressive buildings. It is also located in the center, making it a great place to start the day.

Due to the terrible fire in 2019, you can only see the outside of Notre Dame at the moment.

Suppose you want to get a good photo angle of the Notre Dame – head over to the corner of the streets Rue de la Cite and Quai de Montebello. From here, you can see the tops of the towers and the front of the cathedral.

If you are a breakfast person and need some sustenance to start the day, consider heading over to Loulou. Loulou is a breakfast, brunch, coffee, and beer café which offers a range of breakfast options to begin your busy day off right.

Make A Quick Stop At Sainte Chapelle

Interior of Sainte Chapelle with purple stained glass windows

The 13th century Sainte Chapelle is a place that could be commonly missed by tourists, especially if you have only one day in Paris.

However, it is a special and worthwhile visit near Notre Dame on the île de la Cité, especially because the interior of Notre Dame is not available at the moment.

It is a small chapel (tickets here) characterized by its vast stained-glass features, which make up to 80% of its walls.

Although it is a quick stop, a good tip is to see this attraction as your first or second one for the day as lines to enter can get quite long.

If you missed breakfast earlier, try out Brasserie Les Deux Palais. The restaurant is highly rated and includes traditional regional dishes. The food is good, but the setting is also perfect and close to the Sainte Chapelle.

Stroll Through Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company, the famous English-language bookstores in Paris
Shakespeare and Company – Mo Wu / Shutterstock

Only a 5-minute walk from Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company is a bookstore that is very well known in Paris.

The historical significance is strong in this bookstore as it was known to be the gathering place of famous writers such as Ray Bradbury and Langston Hughes.

There is a variety of English books and for a unique souvenir, be sure to buy a book as they will stamp the company seal on the title page. A big no-no is to take photos inside, as this will not be welcomed.

At this point, you are probably ready for a cup of coffee. Odette is a delightful Paris café located close to Shakespeare & Company and is a good choice for an affordable and tasty coffee and croissant.

Relax In The Luxembourg Garden

Luxembourg Gardens in Paris

The Luxembourg Garden is just under 13-minutes from the bookstore if you’re walking. This garden is an absolute must-see, especially during summer, and is a perfect ode to Paris-style royal gardens.

The garden was only open to royalty before the French Revolution. Now it’s a place for anyone to come to relax, read a book, work or meet up with friends. It’s a good spot to observe the local lifestyle and people.

Enjoy a little relaxation session at the Luxembourg Garden while seeing the classical statues and other beautiful lawn ornaments. Photo opportunities are abundant with large fountains and botanical features.

Besides, you can find many interesting places in the 6th arrondissement, like the beautiful Boulevard Saint-Germain and Hemingway’s favorite spots. 

From here, take the Pont des Arts toward the right bank of the Seine.

Marvel At The Louvre Museum

People staring at Monalisa painting in the Louvre Museum, Paris
Monalisa at the Louvre Museum – Takashi Images / Shutterstock

The Louvre is a massive and extremely popular museum in Paris and the largest art museum in the world. Art lovers will spend lots of time here, marveling at the collection featuring famous pieces like the Mona Lisa.

Not only is the inside of the museum grand, but the glass pyramid architecture is a photographer’s dream.

Before exploring inside, get a map to choose which parts you want to see in the time you have. Also, use an English audio guide to get the most of the history and stories.

Be sure to book a timed-entrance ticket to save time on your trip.

If you missed breakfast and want to have a pit stop for brunch or something sweet, there is a place called Eggs & Co. in St Germain, which is near the Louvre Museum. There are fantastic French macarons at Laduree, making it worth a stop.

Pssst: Looking for some souvenirs? You can buy them at Rue de Rivoli (between the Louvre and the Palais Royal) because they’re cheaper here than around the Eiffel Tower.

Enjoy Culture And History At Musee d’Orsay

Musee D'Orsay clock in Paris

Among all the cultural sights of Paris, one of the best is the Musee d’Orsay.

It has been ranked as the best museum globally and is a firm favorite for all travelers. It has a rich heritage and a unique charm that you should absolutely not miss.

It houses a number of Impressionist art collections complemented by a stunning interior in the museum, which is a former train station. 

Many people do not specifically plan to come to Musee d’Orsay, but most people that end up going say it is not to be missed. Because it is also slightly less known, it can have a smaller crowd which some tourists love.

If you feel like a mid-day pick-me-up at this point in your one-day journey, try out a place called Le Willi’s Wine Bar.

As the name suggests, the wine bar is the main attraction showcasing a range of exceptional wines. Local guides indicate it is a must-stop if in need of some sustenance at any point of the day.

Be Amazed By The Eiffel Tower

Scenic view of the Eiffel tower over blue sky in a sunny autumn day

One of the most well-known and best places to visit in Paris is the famous Eiffel Tower. You can’t miss this Paris landmark in your one-day itinerary, as you definitely will be impressed by its size and presence.

If you have enough time, climb up the Eiffel Tower and learn about the history in the exhibition at the top. The views are to die for but make sure to book tickets in advance, especially during the high tourist season.

If you are not one for heights, enjoy the Eiffel Tower from the Champ de Mars gardens or the other side of the River Seine.

A good lunch spot near the Eiffel Tower is Le Central. This restaurant caters to most diets and has some French classics, which is a must when in Paris.

The vibe of Le Central is welcoming and cozy, with outside and inside options. Another unique lunch and drinks option is to dine in the Eiffel Tower itself. The first two levels have restaurants.

Walk Up The Arc de Triomphe

Arc de triomphe during fall

Heading towards the end of the day, walk for 30 minutes from the Eiffel Tower or take the metro for 15 minutes to visit the Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc de Triomphe is a renowned monument in Paris that will amaze you with its impressive arch.

You can marvel at it from the ground, but there is also an option to go to the top, especially if you haven’t seen the views of the city yet. There are 40 stairs to the top that you can climb.

The Arc de Triomphe monument was built to honor the soldiers who fought in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.

The arch is one of the biggest in the world, and the arcs have the names of the fallen soldiers engraved on the walls.

Feel Enlightened At The Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre

Next up is the Sacre Coeur, which is a majestic church on the top of the hill of Montmartre. It also offers impressive views of Paris. It is the second-highest point in the city, after the Eiffel Tower.

The architectural style is full of intricate details, and the light emphasizes its beauty inside.

An interesting fact about the Sacre Coeur is that the one bell is one of the largest and heaviest bells in the world. It was brought to the church in 1895, dragged by 21 horses to the top of the hill.

An evening drink could be a good idea to begin winding down after your busy day. A few minutes’ walk from the church is a bar café called No Problemo. It is popular as a cozy place with a bar where you can grab a drink and some snacks.

Fine Dine And Drinks At A Cabaret Show

Moulin Rouge is a cabaret in Paris

To end your one day in Paris in true Parisian style, go to a cabaret show accompanied with dinner and drinks.

The most recommended show is at the Moulin Rouge, where you will be able to enjoy a performance full of song and dance. The costumes alone make it worthwhile to end your tour in this way.

If you book your ticket with Moulin Rouge, there is an option to start the night with a glass of champers and have a 3-course French-style dinner. An alternative to the Moulin Rouge is the Crazy Horse.

The Crazy Horse is known for its authentic shows, where champagne and appetizers can also be served during the show.

If you prefer to have dinner after the cabaret show, there is a fancy diner called L’Astrance in Paris. It is rated as one of the world’s best restaurants with 3 Michelin stars and would definitely be one for the books.

If you would like a more relaxed vibe, Breizh Café is a great place for various crepes, both savory and sweet. For drinks, there is a range of artisanal ciders that you can enjoy along with your dinner.

If You Have More Days Left, You Could…

…check out our guides to 2 days in Paris, 3 days in Paris, 4 days in Paris, or 5 days in Paris.

…go on a river cruise to take in the beauty of Paris from a different point of view! A Seine cruise is included in the Paris Pass.

…go shopping at the fashion stores of Galeries Lafayette.

…go on a day trip from Paris to Versailles, Normandy, Loire Valley, and beyond.

…discover the covered passages of Paris.

In addition to the suggestions above, we wrote many guides on how to plan a trip to Paris and have an incredible time in the French capital! So feel free to browse this site and get inspired!

Map of Paris in a Day

We made a free interactive map of the itinerary above that you can use on your phone to give yourself through the city. You can check it out here on Google Maps.

Final Words on One Day in Paris

For one day in Paris, there are certain attractions that you must see. These include the Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Arc de Triomphe.

Some slightly less common places which should definitely make the itinerary are Sainte Chapelle and Musee d’Orsay.

Your one day in Paris wouldn’t be complete without trying the French cuisine and enjoying a drink while watching a classic cabaret at the Moulin Rouge.

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

Before you leave for France, make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy because accidents happen on the road. We have been paying for Safety Wing travel insurance for a little over a year now, and we happily recommend them to our family and friends.

If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you'll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what was stolen.

Because, for just a couple of dollars a day (depending on how long your policy is for), you're going to get lots of things covered. Be smart and get travel insurance.