As for most people Paris was a trip that was on my travel bucketlist basically since I had something like that. I have to admit though, that I came to the city with pretty low expectations, as I had heard a lot of things – pickpockets, dirty etc. – beforehand, but was more than positively surprised by the French capital and its people. It is beautiful, cosmopolitan and I´ve had many interesting conversations with amazing locals. Too bad I only had a day to explore the city.
Anyways, since being an Au Pair with most of my travel time during the weekends I learned to put a lot of things in a short amount of time and am usually pretty good at seeing and doing everything I want – except the Painted Ladies in San Francisco, which bothers me quite a bit.
So without further ado here is the itinerary for Paris in a day. Even better, that this post is written in order, right, so it gives you an idea for a route through the City of Lights.
1) Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur is relatively close to the train station Gare du Nord, so if you arrive there it is the perfect first stop of your day. You´re likely going to constantly be turning your head from one side to the other facing the hard decision between looking at beautiful Sacre Coeur on one side or a wide view over the city on the other.
2) satisfy your sweet tooth for breakfast
If you only have a short amount of time, you might want to have some food on the go like me. I opted for the good old croissant – buying one at home is a bit disappointing now – but obviously there are a lot of great pastries that you could go for – don´t ever miss the chance of having French pastries! And if you have more time than me definitely use it to sit down in one of Montmartre´s many cafés.
How could you go on better, than with a stroll downhill through beautiful Montmartre. I knew I loved this part of Paris right away, but even more so, when I found myself next to the Shop Au Marché de la Butte, that I knew from the movie Amélie / Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, of which I didn´t know that it really existed.
Take your time to wander through the little streets and see where you end up. I found myself -without intending to- at the wall of love, which I thought, was a really neat thing to see.
4) Jardin des Tuileries
The only time I used the metro in Paris – why did I even get a day pass – was to get from Montmartre to the Jardin des Tuileries. It is a really pretty park to stroll through on your way to the Louvre. All over the park you´ll find green chairs that you can put wherever you want to sit and enjoy some downtime and hopefully sun.
5) The Louvre
At the end of the park you´ll find the Louvre. If there isn´t a huge line and you´re interested in the art you may want to go inside. But as it takes quite a while I don´t recommend to, if you´re only staying in Paris for a short time. Instead, wander through the big courtyard with the huge glass pyramid. I loved the contrast between the modern glass and metal structure and the beautifully decorated old facades of the Louvre.
6) Notre Dame
Strolling along the banks of the Seine you can make your way to Pont Neuf to cross the river onto the Ile de la Cité, on which Notre Dame is set. The square in front of the cathedral was incredibly crowded – no wonder, as it is Paris and it was a Sunday on top of that – so I ended up just taking a quick photo of the cathedral in front the bright blue sky and wandered off to the other side of the Seine.
7) Grab a crêpe for lunch
Alright, you can obviously switch this for any other of the delicious meals of the french cuisine. But for me it was the easiest to grab a crêpe with Nutella – yes I´m the kind of person, that uses a spoon to eat chocolate cream.
8) Wander and get lost
Even if you´re short on time, I have the strong opinion that there should always be a few hours for this. I spent almost the whole afternoon just wandering through the little streets along the Seine, starting with the Latin Quarter and always in direction of Invalides and Pont Alexandre III, which is by far my favourite bridge in Paris. This is were I went back on the path along the banks of the Seine – which is closed to traffic on Sundays – to make my way to the Eiffel Tower.
9) See the Eiffel Tower
Could you go to Paris without seeing the “Iron Lady”? I took a look at the incredible structure from every side, in disbelief that I was finally standing there. Make your way over the Seine and up to the Palais de Chaillot through Jardins du Trocadéro – on your way you´ll pass the little Marry-go-round that can be seen in so many pictures with the Eiffel Tower – to take a great photo. If you arrive here right around sunset the lighting for pictures is amazing and you can stay for a while and grab something to eat or just enjoy the view, as the Tower sparkles for five minutes every full hour as soon as it gets dark.
10) Arc de Triomphe
After walking up the Champs-Élysée, my last stop – I just made it an hour, before it closed – was the Arc de Triomphe. And it held a nice surprise I hadn´t known about first: If you are an EU citizen of less than 26 years of age the entrance is free. This goes for all the museums and national monuments!
Once you arrive at the top you get a stunning 360° view of Paris and can spot the places you saw during your day in the City of Lights, as well as the business district, with it´s Grande Arche de la Défense. I would´ve made my way there as well, if I had had more time, but for me the close Porte Maillot was where my bus awaited me for a night ride to Luxembourg.
Anything to add to this list? What are your favourite things to do and see in Paris?