Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
You can easily spend days or even weeks exploring the City of Light. However, you may have the opportunity to see the world’s most visited city for one day only on a fly-in-fly-out visit or while passing through on your way to somewhere else.
If this is the case, it is well worth exploring Paris for the day and getting a taste for this legendary city. We have compiled a suggested itinerary to help you to hit up some of the major sights, get a feel for the place and get the most out of your short time in Paris.
Arriving Into The City
Depending on where you are coming from, you will probably arrive into either of Paris’ airports Roissy-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Paris Orly (ORY), or one of its major RER (regional train) stations.
You can catch the RER train from either airport into the city and from there connect with the Métro system to take you pretty much anywhere you want to go within Paris’ central 20 androissements. A comprehensive network of 14 interconnected lines which also connect to RER stations, you can buy tickets for the Métro at any station, either as a single ticket for 1.90€ or a carnet of 10 tickets for 14.90€. You should be able to execute this itinerary with seven Métro/RER tickets (they are transferrable), however it may be worth buying the carnet of 10 tickets just in case.
If traveling with luggage, there are plenty of options for storing suitcases in Paris, while you make the most of your day in this beautiful city. As soon as you arrive, drop your cases in secure storage and then jump on the Metro to your first destination.
9:00am – Notre Dame Cathedral
To start your day in Paris, catch Métro line 4 to Saint-Michel Notre Dame. From here it is a short walk to the legendary Notre Dame Cathedral. If arriving early enough, you can choose to climb the bell towers, which affords excellent views of the city as well as letting you see the cathedral’s famous gargoyles up close.
Queues start to grow long after 8:30am or so however, so you may choose to simply enjoy the impressive façade and interior instead.
What you need to know: Address: 6 Parvis Notre Dame, Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004, Paris
Hours: 7.45am to 6.45pm daily, til 7.15pm Saturday and Sunday
Prices: entry into the cathedral is free, climbing the towers costs €8.50
11:00am – Marais
Next stop is the historic neighbourhood of the Marais, an easy 20 minute walk from Notre Dame. Visit the famous Place du Vosges and explore the surrounding neighbourhood’s winding medieval streets, which afford plenty of Instagram-worthy opportunities.
12:30pm – Lunch: Montparnasse
For a typical French culinary experience, head to any crêperie in Montparnasse. This area was historically populated by people from Brittany, the home of the crêpe, and remains a centre for restaurants serving authentic crêpes and galettes (savoury crêpes made with whole-meal flour).
From the Marais, catch Métro line 4 to Edgar Quinet and wander down Rue Montparnasse, which runs North from the Métro station and drop in on any of its crêpe restaurants for an authentic meal.
2:00pm – Musee D’Orsay
After lunch, catch the Métro to Assemblee Nationale or Solferino or RER to Gare Musee d’Orsay.
Although the Louvre is undoubtedly Paris’ most famous museum, the city has a number of other renowned art museums. The Musee D’Orsay is also a fine, world-class museum and much more achievable to visit with a couple of hours, unlike the Louvre which demands at least a whole day to do it justice.
The Musee D’Orsay features art work from some of the defining periods in French Art: particularly the Impressionist and Art Nouveau periods. Among the works displayed here are masterpieces from Monet, Renoir, Degas and Van Gogh, to name but a few.
What you need to know: Address: 1 Rue de la Legion d’Honneur, 75007, Paris
Hours: Open 9.30am to 6pm daily, closed Mondays
Prices: €14/€11 concession/under 18 and 18-25 year olds from EU states free
4:00pm – Montmartre
To complete your whirlwind tour of Paris’ most famous neighbourhoods, be sure to visit Montmartre. The setting of the Moulin Rouge and the artist and intellectual revolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Montmartre remains a centre for art and culture.
End your day in Paris by catching Métro line 12 to Abbessess and wander up the hill to Montmartre’s famous Place du Têtre, stopping to admire the characteristic white façade of Sacre Ctcaouer Basilica along the way. In Place du Tetre you can get a small table outside a café and enjoy an espresso while watching the sketch artists push their wares.