I don’t like cities. Barcelona, meh. London, cool to see once. But Paris, STUNNING. Paris has so many amazing sights like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower but what makes Paris special is everything in between. Every single street is so picturesque, there are so many pretty parks scattered throughout the city, and the Seine that winds around Paris makes every view scenic. Not to mention, the unbelievably delicious French pastries, chocolate, and food, that in itself, will make you want to stay longer. We only had 1 day to see Paris before we had to head back toward Norway for our flight home. We did a lot of research before visiting to the make the most of our trip and at the end of the time, I was blown away by how much we were able to see and do in the city of lights. We’ve gathered together everything you need to know to make the most of one day in Paris. We’ve also provided tons of tips on getting around Paris in one day, getting to Paris, other tours and attractions, and a map for your Paris itinerary at the bottom of this blog.
1 Day Paris Itinerary
This amazing itinerary we’ve created hits all of the most famous spots in Paris plus our favorite underdog destinations like the parks of West Paris and Rue de Montparnasse. This is an 11 mile route which is totally doable by foot but at any point you can choose to hop on a bus or train to get to the next destination. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to so I’d highly recommend walking as much as you can. You’ll get to see all the random, cool streets and bridges in between the big attractions.
West Paris Parks
So few people mention the Paris Parks as a must see in Paris but they were one of my absolute favorite parts of the whole day. It’s worth visiting year round, but the fall colors of October and November make it even more spectacular.
As our Paris accommodation was Camping Paris, we passed through along the Park near the Jardin d’Acclimation amusement park. We loved the ponds and the trees and the fall leaves on the floor and we even loved the amazing architecture of Fondation Louis Vuitton.
To start off this day of fun in Paris, I highly recommend taking a train/bus to these parks. You will want to get a bus or train to take you to the Carrefour de Longchamp bus stop or the Porte de Madrid bus stop. Walk through any part of the park to head toward your next stop, the Arc de Triomphe.
Arc de Triomphe
While there are other Archway structures like this throughout the city, I think what makes this one so unique is the large roundabout framing it. It’s frozen in the midst chaos.
Many people take a tour to go inside the Arc de Triomphe however unless you’ve bought a Museum or Paris Pass (see bottom of this post), it’s not worth the money. This structure is best enjoyed from below.
The luxurious, shop lined street of the Champs Elysees is one of the most famous streets in the whole world. This mile long stretch holds many famous events, parades, and more.
In all honesty, there’s not much to the Champs Elysess other than shopping but if you’re in Paris, you have to see it at least once. Many of the top restaurants and patisseries are on this street but be warned, everything is extremely expensive here. If you plan on eating out, do so in the later mentioned areas.
Macaroons at Laduree
Laduree is probably the most famous patisserie in Paris, known for their specialty macaroons. This place is totally upscale and elegant. If that’s not your thing there are plenty of other places you can get macaroons but if you want the full fancy Paris experience, head here.
Why would anyone go to a Spanish specialty food store in Paris? Well because it’s just that good. After strolling through the Champs de Elysees and stopping for some macaroons, head south toward the Seine to the less crowded streets. Among the with hidden gem shops and restaurants you will reach Bellota Bellota, a Spanish specialty restaurant.
Even having been to Spain, we were amazed by the quality of the food. The chorizo and tapas based dishes were a great appetizer to keep us energized on our long walking tour through Paris. Either stop by for a quick bite or grab some of their amazingly cured dried meats to enjoy later on your walking tour through Paris.
Walk along the Seine
From Bellota Bellota, continue south until you reach the Seine. Follow the river east along one of the most beautiful sections of the river. You will pass 3 beautiful bridges including the Pont Alexandre III, a beautiful bridge with golden statues adorning it.
When you reach the Pont Alexandre III, head left up the street to see the Grand Palais which was built in 1897 along with the Pont Alexandre III and the Petit Palais which lies in the same courtyard.
After admiring the buildings, continue back to the Champs Elysees to the Rue de Rivoli where you’ll reach Angelina Paris. To this day we still talk about how insanely delicious Angelinas was. This specialty chocolatier/patisserie has the most amazing hot chocolate I’ve had in my entire life.
Angelina’s which is famous in general for their incredible chocolate, is most famous for their Mont Blanc pastries. This dessert is typically made of meringue clusters topped with spirals of pureed chestnuts and a dab of whip cream. At Angelina’s however, they make the spiral puree out of dozens of different flavors including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, peanut, and so many more.
While Mont Blancs are famous here, I’m in love with their hot chocolate. Paris makes a special version of hot chocolate called Chocolate Chaud which is a much thicker and creamier version of hot chocolate, much like sipping chocolate. Angelina’s Chocolate Chaud was completely delicious and is a must for any chocolate lover.
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
As you leave Angelina’s, walk to the park across the street, Jardin de Tuileries, and head left toward the large Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. As it was quite cold in November when we were visiting, we grabbed some coffee at the small coffee cart near the archway to warm ourselves up here.
The large gold embellished structure is a quite fitting entrance to what comes next, The Louvre.
The Louvre took us by surprise. We rarely go to cities in general and if we do, we don’t usually go to any museums. They just tend to be a bit expensive and not really worth the money. Lucky for us we happened to be in Paris on the one day of the month that the Louvre is free! Even if it hadn’t been, just the incredible architecture of the outside of the Louvre is stunning.
I loved how the ancient building of the Louvre contrasts with the modern architecture of the glass pyramids.
Regular admission to the Louvre is €15 and is free for anyone under 18. Admission is free for all on the first Sunday of the month from October to March, which is when we happened to visit. See the bottom of this post for more info on Paris Museum passes and fast passes.
From the Louvre, once again, head south to the seine, only a block away. You can either cross at the first bridge, the Pont des Arts, and stroll along the other side of the river or follow the river past the Pont Neuf and the Pont au Change.
If you want to explore the well know Sain Germain-des-Pres neighborhood, cross the bridge across from the Louvre and explore the gothic streets. This area is great place to go out to eat and isn’t nearly as expensive as the Champs Elysees.
When you reach a bridge to take you to the island that holds the Notre Dame, weave your way along the street following the signs. Admire the famous building and enjoy one of the snacks you grabbed earlier at Bellota Bellota, etc.
Les Catacombs des Paris
This next stop is bit of a far walk so you can choose to get on the RER bus or railway at the Saint Michel – Notre Dame station just across the river (south) from the Notre Dame. This route trails only between Zone 1 and 2 of the public transportation system (more info on bus tickets below). If you feel like walking, the walking route to the Catacombs takes you along Rue Saint-Jacques which has some great restaurants where you can grab lunch. It also takes you right past the Pantheon. The Catacombs cost €13 per person and under 18 is free.
Rue de Montparnasse
It is an absolute must to visit the quant and colorful street of Rue de Montparnasse and get some of the most amazing crepes in the world. It’s not a very long walk from the Catacombs to this street, however, you have the option to take the Metro route 4 or 8 from the Denfert-Rochereau. If you decide to skip the Catacombs, I recommend walking through the Le Jardin du Luxembourg to get to here from the Notre Dame. This street is unassuming, charming, and home to the greatest creperies in all of Paris. You can’t go wrong with any of these creperies but we went with Creperie Bretonne and it did not disappoint. We enjoyed delicious savory and sweet crepes.
The Rue de Montparnasse is only a 1 block away from the Tour Montparnasse, the tower that holds one of the greatest views in all of Paris. While we didn’t have the chance to go up it ourselves since there it was a bit expensive for 7 to go up, I highly recommend others to do so despite the price. Admission is €18 for adults, €9.50 for kids (ages 4-11). See full price list here.
The best and las stop of the day is long 40 minute walk, but totally doable if you feel up to it. It’s more likely at this point that you’re going to be ready to get on a bus or train to get to this last stop. from Gare Montparnasse Metro station you can hop on the metro (Line 6) and it’ll take you right to Bir-Hakeim station just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. You can also get on the bus (Line 82), which is what we did and get off at the Tour Eiffel stop. The Eiffel Tower is an absolute essential on a one day visit to Paris. It’s not overrated. It’s just really frickin cool. I was not expecting be so amazed by it but the sheer size and intricate appearance of it all took my breath away.
There is no need to go into the Eiffel Tower, seeing it from below is the best experience. We really enjoyed the tower’s light show which displays every hour on the hour from sunset to 1 AM (or 2AM in the summer). This Paris itinerary we’ve created should bring you to the Eiffel Tower just after sunset in time so you can see the Eiffel Tower in all it’s lit up glory.
Paris Walking Route Map
This is the exact route I’d recommend. The Seine and the parks of Paris are one of the things that make the city so special. This route we created goes to all the top attractions via parks and along the river as much as possible. Click here to save this route on Google Maps on your phone.
Public Transportation in Paris
The route we created does involve a lot of walking but at any time you can choose to hop on a bus to the next stop, however you will miss some pretty streets or walks. There are three forms of public transportation in Paris: Buses, Metros, and RER (suburban railway).
Note: All public transpiration options (as oppposed to walking) mentioned earlier in this blog only travel between Zone 1-2. You can buy a single ticket for €1.90, a 1 day Paris Visite Pass ticket for zones 1-3 for €13.20 (or €6.60 for kids), or you can get a 10-pack of single tickets for €16.00 (AKA a Carnet) which I think is the best value. There are also Paris Visite Pass options for 2, 3 or 5 days and also for 5 zones instead of 3. All three of the mentioned tickets options allow travel on the buses, Metros, and RER lines in Paris under a few transfer restrictions. These transfers are allowed:
- Metro to metro fo 2 hours following validation
- Metro to RER and RER to RER for 2 hours between first and last validation
- Bus to bus for 90 minutes from first to last validation
It is much easier and cheaper to buy you tickets, no matter what tickets you’re getting, in the Metro stations as opposed to on a bus.
Paris Tours and Other Passes
If you enjoy being on a guided tour rather than do a walking tour yourself there are SO many tours to choose from:
- 3 Hour Paris Walking Tour: Secret Sites and Hidden Gems
- Day Biking Tour of Paris: Hidden Gems and Top Attractions
Other sightseeing passes you may be interested in are the Paris Museum Pass, the Paris City Pass, or the Paris Fast Pass. The Paris Museum Pass is a 2-day pass for €48 which gives you access to the Musee de Louvre, Arc du Triomphe, Tours de Notre Dame, Pantheon and more. The Paris Pass is also a 2-day pass for €131 (or €81 for teens and €44 for kids). The Paris Pass gives you access to all the museums that the Paris Museum Pass gives you plus FastTrak entry into the Louvre and free entry into attractions like Tour Montparnasse and a River Cruise. You also get a free hop on hop off bus tour and finally, the Paris Pass gives you unlimited access to all public transportation between zones 1-3. A slightly cheaper version of the Paris Pass is the Paris Fast Pass which includes everything the Paris Pass does and it give you priority access to all the 40+ museums included. It does not include a Metro but you will still get access to a river cruise and a bus tour. In addition, this ticket is slightly cheaper than the Paris Pass. Looking for other tours. Save up to 40% off tours & activities in Paris by clicking here.
Where to Stay
If you need accommodation for the night before or after your day in Paris, here is where recommend finding accommodation. While this may seem crazy, I highly recommend camping in Paris. Camping Paris is right on the river and is surrounded by dozens of trees. It has nice bathroom facilities, a kitchen and wifi area, a playground, a food truck restaurant, a full camp store, and it’s family friendly. If camping seems like too much roughing it, the campground cabins are very modern and nice. If you want to be close to the center of Paris and also be surrounded be beautiful trees and along the Seine, you will love it here. Plus, you can start this 1 day Paris Itinerary right from your front door. Click here to see rates. Another budget friendly hotel is Les Piaules and is suited best for couples. This hostel is one of the best value accommodations in Paris. At only $50 per night, a good location, and nice rooms, budget travelers can’t go wrong here. Click here to see availability. We always use Booking.com to find accommodation since you can filter the options so much nd they usually have the best prices.
Getting to Paris
Airfare to France Flights from the US to France can be as low at $200 each way and even less if not traveling from overseas. Our top way to find these insanely good deals is to set up alerts on Skyscanner to be notified when prices drop. In addition, Norwegian Airlines offers the cheapest flights from the US with prices as low as $120 one way from the East Coast and $140 from the West Coast. Click here to subscribe to to their flight deals. Last, Air France has good flight deals within Europe and on US to Franc flights. Airport Transfer Taxi is the fastest way to get to the center of Paris however getting a taxi in another is always confusing and the typical price from the airport to the city center is around €60. It’s much easier and cheaper to plan a airport transfer ahead of time. This Paris Airport transfer service is the best combination of affordability and convenience. It is way cheaper than a taxi and includes roundtrip transfer to and from the airport to your destination of choice. The cheapest option of all is to take the RER train. Single tickets for this train is €10 for adults and €6 for kids. Since this train travels through 5 zones you cannot use the Carnet tickets here nor the 3-zone Paris Visite Pass. You can however use the 5-zone Paris Visite Pass (€25.25 for 1 day) which as I mentioned before comes as a 1, 2, 3, or 5 day pass. Hope this helped you plan a one day trip to Paris! If you have questions please let us know in the comments below!