You can easily spend days or even weeks exploring the City of Light. However, if you're on a layover visit where you have 24 hours or less, this is the perfect 1 day Paris itinerary to help plan your trip.
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Here's what we're covering:
- Paris Itinerary in 24 Hours
- Where to stay in Paris
- Alternative things to do in 24 hours
Paris Itinerary in 24 Hours
I've had the opportunity to visit Paris on a number of trips, some short and some long. With so many things to do in France, a 1 day Paris itinerary can be very handy especially if you'll be transiting to another part of the country or doing a flight layover.
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 16.90€.
You should be able to execute this itinerary with nine 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.
Alternatively, you can also look for a semi-private minivan transfer for a balance of efficiency and cost.
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
Website: Notre Dame Cathedral
- Since the major fire on April 15, 2019, the Notre Dame Cathedral is closed to visitors. That said, visitors are welcome to the site to see the cathedral from the exterior.
- A great way to see Notre Dame is through a boat ride on the Seine with the Batobus riverboat shuttle service which only costs $20 USD. They run like a hop-on-hop-off bus except by boat.
11:00am – Marais
The 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: Crepes in 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. One that I'd recommend is La Belle Ronde.
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. On Thursdays, they're open late until 9:45pm.
Website: Musee D'Orsay
Price: €14/€11 concession/under 18 and 18-25 year olds from EU states free. Entry is also free on the first Sunday of every month.
- Masks are mandatory during COVID-19.
- Only suitcases, travel bags and backpacks smaller than 56 x 45 x 25 cm are allowed.
- Cloakroom and lockers are available
- The closest Métro line is 12 and stop Solférino
4:00pm – Montmartre
Next, you'll be visiting Paris’ most famous neighbourhood, 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 Coeur Basilica along the way.
TIP: Be careful in the neighbourhood from pickpockets. I've personally had my backpack stolen after putting it on the ground. While it's not dangerous here, you do need to be on alert.
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.
6:00pm – Dinner: Chez Toinette
A 1 day Paris itinerary isn't complete without having a traditional French restaurant. Since you're in the Montmartre neighbourhood, walk a little further south to Chez Toinette.
Rated as a Traveler's choice by TripAdvisor, it's a little off-the-beaten-path but anyone who's eaten there will tell you how amazing their restaurant is.
Reservation are recommended since the restaurant is small. Make sure to order the escargot, ravioli, duck, bourguignon, and/or foie gras are recommended.
8:00pm – Eiffel Tower's Illumination
There's no perfect ending to your day than to head over to the Eiffel Tower and have a picnic at the Bassins du Champ de Mars park.
From Chez Toinette, take Métro line 12 from Abbesses to École Militaire with a change at Concorde on line 8.
Before you head to the park, head over to Carrefour City to pick up cheese and maybe even a bottle of wine.
Find a spot on the grass to picnic and wait for the the Illumination light show where it twinkles for 5 minutes every hour, on the hour after sunset.
Map of the Paris Itinerary
This is a map that pins all the spots in this 24 hour Paris itinerary.
Where to stay in Paris
If you need a one-night stay in Paris, here are my recommendations for where to stay.
Typically I'd bring up Airbnb as an option but one night might be a challenge. Booking.com is going to be your best bet here especially if you've reached Genius level membership.
Le Regent Montmartre
If you're okay with a shared bathroom, this is a well-rated hostel in the heart of Montmartre. Rooms are basic but comfortable with free wifi and luggage storage options.
Plug Inn Montmartre
This is considered hostel but they have rooms with private bathrooms for a great price. Also located in Montmartre, you get free buffet breakfast, wifi, and luggage storage.
Motel One Paris-Porte Dorée
Don't be fooled by the name, I've stayed at a Motel One in Hamburg and this has very similar design and vibes. Rooms, staff, and location are great (close to Porte Dorée Métro station)
Résidence Charles Floquet
The location and view from this gorgeous fully-loaded apartment is stunning being so close to the Eiffel tower. This is a clean and spacious unit that gives you access to a kitchen which is a plus.
Alternative things to do in 24 hours
There are so many things to do in Paris but if the itinerary doesn't have quite everything you're hoping to do, here are a few other ideas you can incorporate.
Just remember, 24 hours goes by quickly so pick and adjust wisely!
- Louvre Museum – I know, how could I have left this out. The original thought is that it might take up too much of your time but if it's a must do, you should definitely fit this in!
- Montparnasse Tower Roof Terrace – I always argue that this is the best rooftop view of Paris.
- Opera Garnier – This is a great self-tour to admire the largest opera hall in Europe
- Les Invalides – See the tomb of Napolean and one of the world's largest military history and art collections.
- Panthéon – This is a the temple dedicated to the memory of those who have marked French history since the time of the French Revolution.
- Pompidou – Another museum that you can consider during your day in Paris. Some consider it the MOMA of Europe.
- Illuminations River Cruise – Evening river cruise along the River Seine and see the city light up.
- Champ Elysee and Arc de Triomphe – If you're looking to do more shopping and see the Arc, include this in your itinerary.
You can by individual or 10-pack of tickets at ticket desks and automatic vending machines, located in all metro, bus, tram, and RER stations.
Yes, there is a Paris Visite Pass which allows for unlimited travel in a day. This costs 13,20 € and you can buy it here.
At CDG Terminal 2, you can store your luggage at the lockers located at the CDGVAL station's exit near the RER train station. This is available 7 days a week from 6am to 9:30pm. This is operated by Bagages du Monde.
At ORY, baggage storage is available in terminal Sud in the public area near Gate G departures hall. This is operated by Bagages du Monde.
The light show ends at 1am.
Yes, Uber is available in the city however it may not be advisable especially during rush hour because of heavy traffic.
The airport has flat-rates into the city to make things easier. It's €50 for anywhere north of the Seine and €55 for anywhere south of the Seine.