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This one day in Paris guide was updated on the 19th of August 2022 by Lena
Here we go, you’ve got one day in Paris! ONE day! Admittedly, that is not a lot. But truth be told, if you are visiting Paris in a day, you have the chance to get an excellent first impression of France’s capital.
1 day in Paris is also enough, to check quite a few things off your Paris bucket list.
How to make the most out of your one day in Paris?
If you google “perfect day in Paris” or “one day in Paris”, you find quite a few guides and itineraries on what to do in Paris for a day. Honestly, I am always a bit puzzled because they are either insanely stuffed or not at all.
You won’t be able to cross all Paris highlights off your list when visiting Paris for a short one-day flying visit. But there is no need to believe that Paris for 1 day is not worth it because you absolutely will have a fantastic time.
Browse through these posts to prepare for your day in Paris:
- How to get from the Airport to Paris? The Complete Guide
- 21 Simple Ways to Save Money in Paris
- Scams in Paris! How to avoid the most common cons
- What NOT to do in Paris -23 (costly) Paris Mistakes you need to avoid!
CHECKLIST for your Trip to Paris
☐ Book your airport transfer with Welcome Pickups for a stress-free arrival
☐ Consider Travel Insurance with COVID-19 coverage
☐ Know how to use the Metro in Paris
☐ Book attractions that sell out quickly in advance
☐ Don’t forget your Travel Adapter
This 1 day in Paris itinerary that I created for you is sportive, and you better pack your most comfortable walking shoes for Paris because you’ll be on your feet all day.
Even though you will see and do a lot in Paris, you have to make a few compromises, as you impossibly can visit every Paris highlight in such a brief visit.
If you have a bit more than 24 hours, get inspired by my two days in Paris guide!
You can, of course, visit the Louvre, but if you have only one or two spare hours, what’s the point? And you can also just walk from one sight to the next on your Paris in one day tour, but if you don’t have even time to stop and enjoy a glass of wine on a patio?!?
Visiting Paris is not a race. Paris is about pleasure and joy, about taking it all in, about being fully there 🙂
Also, read our first-timers guide to Paris to get lots of useful info for your first stay!
A realistic itinerary for one day in Paris
I have been living in Paris for many years, and I put together a realistic itinerary of things to do in Paris in a day.
Everything you could and should do if you are in Paris for a day to make the most out of your stay and get a comprehensive impression of the city.
There will be room for strolling and lingering, and for adapting your 1 day in Paris to your needs. For a café on a patio and even a glass of wine at sunset. You will also see some of Paris’ most iconic sights, and I can assure you it won’t be the most stressful day of your life 🙂 (and you most likely want to come back!)
What does this 1 day in Paris Itinerary cover?
In a nutshell, these are the sights and activities you can be looking forward to if you are following more or less this one-day itinerary for Paris:
- Eiffel Tower
- Pyramid of the Louvre
- Notre Dame
- Seine River Cruise
- Sacré Coeur
- Shakespeare & Company
- Centre Pompidou
- The Bouquiniste
- a café in a Parisian Café
- of course: An authentic French Croissant
- and: a glass of wine
If you are thinking now that I am out of my mind to be intending to squeeze all those activities to do in Paris in one day, that’s fair. Though, I am good at coming up with efficient plans. Read on to see for yourself how you can maximize your day in Paris.
What to do in Paris for a day?
Maybe you are keen on taking a little break in Paris for a day on your way to the South of Europe. Or perhaps you are lucky and find yourself on a layover in Paris between international flights, that is long enough for you to head into town. Depending on where you live, it’s even possible to take a day trip to Paris!
There are many reasons why you might ask yourself what to do in Paris for a day, and why one day in Paris has to be enough. This time!
Either way, visiting Paris for one day is a fantastic way to get to know the city a bit.
If you need precise information regarding your arrival point, for example how to get into town from airports, where to park your car, etc., please read also the last section of this article
Your 1 day in Paris Itinerary
So, enough with the chitchat, here’s your itinerary for one perfect day in Paris.
1. Châtelet & The Marais
Length: 4km ≡ Duration: 1h30
Paris is a great city if you have only a limited time. Paris is not huge, rather the contrary and most sights are located in the center.
That’s why I chose the Metro and train station, Châtelet as a starting point of this itinerary. Châtelet is the main public transport junction, and you’ll easily find a connection from wherever you arrive in Paris.
Châtelet is connected via a direct line to the airports Charles de Gaulle and Orly, and the train stations Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Gare Saint Lazare, and Gare de Lyon.
Tour de Saint-Jaques
After getting the obligatory French Croissant and you are at the Metro station, head east. If you are unsure where east is, look out for the Tour de Saint-Jaques. The 52m high tower is the only remains of a gothic 16th-century church that got destroyed following the French Revolution in 1797.
Hôtel de Ville
Heading down the Rue de Rivoli, you will soon see the Hôtel de Ville, the Parisian mayor house, on your right. I suggest paying a visit to the tourist office that is located on the left side of the building.
It’s a good occasion to stuck up on some Paris knick-knack as a memory of your one-day trip to Paris, but the real reason why it’s worth to step in are the free temporary exhibitions!
♥ if you have a bit more time, don’t miss our 4 days in Paris guide and get some inspiration!
24 hours in Paris – visit the Marais!
From the Hôtel de Ville, head north across the Centre Pompidou into the heart of the Marais. Until the French Revolution, the Marais was the aristocratic district of Paris, and many historic buildings are relics of this time.
After the downfall of the French aristocracy, the Marais became a popular commercial neighborhood and home to one of the biggest Parisian Jewish communities. Today it’s also the Parisian center of LGTB culture and one of the main locality for galleries, hip restaurants, and bars.
So if it comes down to what to see in Paris in one day, the Marais is definitely high up on the list. If you have a bit more time in Paris, the Marais is a wonderful district to take a walking tour for foodies!
Your Itinerary: Châtelet & Marais
If you follow the itinerary below, you will come across the most interesting and representative sights within the Marais area.
The pure walking time according to google is 53 min, but you should allow at least 1h30, if not 2 hours. The Marais is full of cute stores, and little galleries and I promised you will have time for a café, right?
To save time, I suggest you have (an early) lunch in the Marais.
Due to strong Jewish and Middle Eastern influence, the Marais is a good place to eat kosher – and to eat Falafel!
An excellent address is the L’As du Falafel in Rue des Rosier. The most famous Falafel store within the Marais is known to be the favorite of Lenny Kravitz! If that’s no selling point! (but honestly, it IS good!). You can’t miss it, by the way, the shop always has a queue but don’t worry; they’re quick!
Take a look at our Paris Food Guide to know the best things to try in Paris!
From the center of the Marais and the cute cobbled stone alleys, head next to the Place de Vosges. It is the oldest planned square in Paris and it gives the aristocratic past of the Marais perfectly away.
2. Île Saint-Louis
Length 300m ≡ Duration 15min (if you make an ice cream stop!)
When you’re past the Shoah Memorial in the Marais, cross the Pont Marie to get on the Île Saint-Louis. It’s tempting to just head right to the cathedral of Notre Dame as it’s just there, but that’s not our direction just yet, be patient!
Just when you set foot on the Île Saint-Louis, you’ll pass by Berthillon. It’s the most famous (and best) glacier in Paris, and their ice creams and sorbets are knowingly among the 10 best ice creams in the world. And isn’t time for a desert anyway? Treat yourself!
By the way, does the café in the picture above look familiar? It’s a filming location for Emily in Paris!
If you have a bit more time, and you’re not tired of walking yet, I suggest planning in an extra 15 min and taking some detours at Île Saint-Louis. It’s a quite nice island!
3. Quartier Latin: a must-see on your 1 Day Paris Itinerary
The Quartier Latin is traditionally the university district of Paris and until today you can find most educational establishments within this area. Hence, the name: Latin was the university language back in the days!
The Latin Quarter is a lively student quarter with many pubs and bars, but also markets, shops, and cute cobbled stoned alleys.
Considering that you already walked quite a bit today, I suggest keeping your Latin Quarter tour rather short. However, the complete loop in the map below is for motivated Paris visitors or for those that are renting a bike in Paris to get around quickly.
If you decided to take the shortcut, head straight to Odette, point G (on the map).
Quick Latin Quarter shortcut (If you lack time)
The Latin Quarter shortcut itinerary includes a few iconic Parisian attractions.
First Odette. The tea house is well-known for its choux à la crème – filled puff pastry—and a perfect place to either sit down and enjoy some people watching with your pastry or just get some choux as take out.
From there it’s just a few steps to the famous bookstore Shakespeare and Company. The bookstore of English and American literature is an institution in Paris and one of the most original places in Paris.
If you don’t have much time, it’s one of the places to visit in Paris in one day. Even though it’s not a secret tip anymore, you definitely need to step in and have a look around.
Don’t forget to check the view of Notre Dame from the first floor, and give the cat a cuddle that lives up there (in the store, not in Notre Dame). If you are up a special souvenir, all books purchased in the store get a nice little stamp on request.
If you have not eaten yet, there are many lunch options in the Latin Quarter.
However, I advise you not to eat at the restaurants around Rue de la Harpe. The restaurants are cheap, and it’s tempting, but you get better food in any other restaurant for not much more.
4. Seine River Cruise – Time to Relax
≡ Duration 1h30
After exploring the Marais and big parts of the Latin Quarter, it’s time for a well-deserved break!
The last point of the Latin Quarter itinerary leads you to the Fountain, St. Michel. From there you just need to head a bit left to the Pont Neuf for the pier of the Seine River Cruise that you can just hop on to!
Taking a cruise on the Seine will not only let you relax and stretch your legs a wee bit after quite a busy day, but you will also see most of Paris’ important sights (at a very fair price!)
- Tour Eiffel
- Musée d’Orsay
- Musée de Louvre
- Notre Dame
- Île de la Cité
- Grand Palais
- Petit Palais
- Pont Neuf
- Pont Alexandre III
Click here to get a full description of what to expect from a cruise on the Seine!
There are many companies in Paris that are offering Cruises on the Seine and one is usually as good as the other, but most of them are leaving at the Eiffel Tower! If you are visiting Paris only for a very short time, it’s best to choose a central pier for your Seine cruise, and that’s where the selection becomes smaller.
I strongly recommend booking your Seine cruise in advance, as some time slots are very popular and superfast sold out. Check here for availabilities, schedules, and rates.
5. Île de la Cité
Length 1,8 km ≡ Duration 40 min (if you visit the Hôtel Dieu)
From the Pont Neuf and the landing pier of the cruise, you can finally head over to Notre Dame. Since the horrible incident in 2019, Notre Dame obviously cannot be visited currently.
Some blinds are put in place, so you cannot get even close to Notre Dame. However, you can still snap some pictures and the Île-de-la-Cité has a few nice places to discover, for example, the Hôtel Dieu just left from Notre Dame.
It’s not a very time-consuming activity, but a real secret tip and definitely worth it! See our post here and know more about visiting.
Editor’s advice: if you are around Notre Dame, be extra wary of pickpockets and do not stop if some girls ask for your signature for something.
6. The Pyramid of the Louvre
Length 1,1 km ≡ Duration 14 min
The Louvre is the world’s most visited museum and is located in the former king’s palace, the Palais du Louvre. It’s also the largest art museum of the world, with more than 30.000 exhibited objects on 72.735 square meters.
But bad news first: you won’t have time to visit the Louvre if you are on a one day trip to Paris.
That being said, if you skip one or two of the suggested itineraries, you could make it. Just think about purchasing your tickets in advance, as even a museum like the Louvre can be sold out! Click here to reserve your spot!
The good news is, however, you have time to see the famous Pyramid of the Louvre! The glass pyramid is located in the main court of the Louvre and got inaugurated in 1988.
Even though it wasn’t very popular at first, it’s one of the main landmarks of Paris today. It’s actually not only one pyramid but two – one on the outside and an inverted glass pyramid on the inside, as you probably know if you saw the film (or read the book) The Da Vinci Code from Dan Brown!
(Well, there are 4 Pyramids, but those 2 are the most significant)
7. Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur
The big final of every day trip to Paris
Length 700m ≡ Duration 25min – if you linger
If you get out at the Metro station Abbesses, make a stop to have dinner in any of the restaurants around the metro station. Personally, I like Comptoir Breizh. It’s a traditional Crêperie with delicious sweet and savory dishes.
Just next to the Metro station is the first highlight of Montmartre, “le mur des je t’aime”. Stop for a quick picture and then head uphill!
You’ll have a few stairs to climb, but you soon will reach the “Place du Tertre”, the well-known square where many painters are waiting to take your portrait! And then you’re there, at your final destination of your Paris in a day adventure: The famous Basilica Sacre Coeur and isn’t it a great end to a fantastic day in Paris to see the city illuminated by night?
PS: don’t forget to get beers or some wine to sip while taking in the view!
Editors advice: when you take the stairs down at the Sacre Coeur, be wary of guys that want to knot a friendship bracelet around your wrist (for money). You best just ignore them and walk quickly past them. They are not dangerous, just really annoying.
How to organize your one day trip to Paris?
No matter how long or short you stay in Paris, there are always a few things to organize.
The most asked question is, of course, how to get to Paris in the first place. If you arrive in Paris by car, you need to find a convenient (and not outrageously expensive) parking place. If you arrive by plane, it’s important to know how to get from the airport into town.
1 day in Paris – Where will you arrive and where to stay for one night in Paris?!
The following articles will be interesting for you:
- 5 ways to get from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris: THE complete guide!
- How to use the Parisian Metro in 2022!
- Paris by bike: How to rent a bike in Paris in 2022!
Arriving in Paris by plane
1 day in Paris: The Paris Layover Tour
If you are traveling internationally in or out of Europe with a connection in Paris, you might have some waiting time between flights. You can also plan an easy overnight layover to benefit from the occasion to explore Paris.
Paris isn’t very far from the airport, and it’s easily possible to use a layover by visiting Paris.
How to get to Paris from the airport?
Paris has 2 airports: Roissy/Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in the north and Orly (ORY) in the south. Both airports are connected to Paris by RER B (Parisian express train) with several inner-city stops.
By Public Transport
The train from the airport, whether it’s Orly or Charles de Gaulle, takes around 45 minutes to Châtelet, the center of Paris.
By Private Transport
If you are short on time and don’t want to stress about figuring out public transportation, you can also easily book a private transfer from the airport to Paris.
I recommend you to check with Welcome Pickup because they are reliable, speak English and track your flight to be aware of delays.
Check here our very extensive guide on how to get from CDG airport to Paris!
Where to stay when traveling by Plane?
If your layover requires reserving a hotel, you can either check in to a hotel close by the airport or spend the night in Paris.
However, it depends on your flight departure time. If your plane is scheduled before noon, I suggest staying close to the airport. Traffic in Paris can be VERY busy, both on roads and public transportation.
Where to stay near Charles de Gaulle Airport (Roissy)?
A few Hotels are located directly on the Airport premise, so you don’t have to worry about transportation in the morning. The best Hotels are:
- Ibis Paris CDG (Budget)
- Innside by Melia Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Midrange)
- Pullman Paris Roissy Cdg Airport (Upscale)
Where to stay near Orly Airport?
If you are leaving from Orly in the south, you have less of a choice because there are only two hotels in the airport area. Both are good and convenient:
Arriving in Paris by car
If you are on your way to the south (or north?) or on a road trip through Europe you’ll arrive by car, and that’s not the best thing to have in Paris
I strongly advise against driving into town and not to park somewhere on the street. Not only is there a lot of traffic. It will also be difficult to find a parking place at all. Furthermore, leaving all your luggage in your car while you are off to explore Paris, just don’t do that.
There are many paid and surveilled parking places all around town that are close to public transportation. You can find your convenient location and even book a parking place ahead of your arrival. You can do that for example here, but there are many parking place providers in Paris.
Rent a Hotel with Parking Place
The parking place situation won’t cause any problem if you stay one night in Paris and reserve a hotel that offers private parking places. I suggest having a look at the following hotel options. All Hotels below are close to Metro stations to grant you quick access to the center, but far enough out to not get in lost in Paris’ traffic madness.
However, parking is not free and all hotels charge a minimum of €20 per day.
Mama Shelter East: ultra-modern hotel with iMacs in each room. The hotels also have an in-house restaurant, a Pizzeria, and a bar.
Le Mireille: The nice French hotel lies nearby to the Sacre Coeur. The location is perfect for everyone who is following our one-day in Paris itinerary, as the Sacre Coeur is the end of the tour!
Arriving in Paris by train
If you are coming from London, Brussels, or Cologne, you will arrive at Gare du Nord in Paris. If you arrive from the south of France, you will most likely arrive at Gare de Lyon. Either of those 3 train stations is connected by a direct line to Châtelet and the travel time is around 10 minutes.
A single ride Metro ticket costs €1,90 at the time of writing and can be loaded on a Navigo Easy Travel card that you either buy at the station for €2 or load on your phone for free.
Where to stay in Paris for one night?
If you are looking for a hotel in Paris for one night, it’s best to stay in the center of Paris. This way, you are saving time in public transportation, you get the full Paris flair, and you are quickly everywhere.
But it is hard to choose the right Hotel in Paris, I know. That’s why I have a few Paris hotel guides that will help you find your perfect accommodation.
- 5 most convenient Ibis Hotels in Paris – Budget Hotel Guide
- 14 Hotels with stunning Eiffel Tower views- for (almost) every budget!
- The best Hotels in Montmartre; for every budget!
If you intend to follow this itinerary and are having a flight to catch for Charles de Gaulle, it’s actually best you look for a Hotel in Montmartre. Like this, you’ll have an easy way home after a day of sightseeing, and your trip to the Airport will be short (Montmartre is in the North and so is the Roissy Airport). Plus: Montmartre is simply stunning and perfect to have a morning coffee before heading to the airport.
FAQ: One Day in Paris
- Is 1 day enough in Paris?
One day in Paris may not be enough to explore the city to its core, but it is enough time to get a good glimpse of the city and to take in that exceptional Paris vibe.
- Can you walk around Paris in a day?
Absolutely. Paris is surprisingly small, especially if you compare it to London, Berlin, or New York. Everything is close together, and crossing Paris on foot from North to South takes not even 3 hours.
If you stroll around Paris for one day, you see a lot and surely can check off a few of your bucket list items.
- What should I avoid in Paris?
Paris is a safe city to visit, especially if you roam around the center. However, avoid having your valuables at places, that are easily accessible because pickpockets are everywhere.
- Is a day trip to Paris from London worth it?
Paris is easily visited from London for a day. The Eurostar takes not even 2.5 hours from London to Paris, and the station is very close to attractions and sights.
- What is the cheapest way to travel around Paris?
The cheapest way to travel around Paris is the Metro, 1,90€ one way.
If you need any clarification about Paris or need some advice and how to plan your trip, don’t hesitate to reach out! I created a Facebook group for this matter, and I am available to help you out! Click here to join the private Salut from Paris Facebook group!
Check out our Paris itineraries for more inspiration.
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