Paris in 24 hours? Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? It is exactly what I thought when I saw my Topdeck European Wonder tour stopped off there for only one full day. Since I had done Paris with my parents a few years back, I knew where everything was. Because of this, my friends and I were determined to do as much as we could in one day. So here is my guide to Paris in 24 hours:
Accommodation: To get the full picture of Paris, I would recommend to stay the night. That way you can see the Eiffel Tower light up or hit a cabaret show. Whilst we were in Paris, we stayed at the Christopher’s Inn Gare du Nord. The location of this hostel was perfect, right opposite the Gare du Nord train station. Like the majority of hostels, it has a great bar and restaurant attached. Breakfast was served at 7am, so you can have an early start to your day. The dorms were clean and modern, making me happy as they had a phone plug point attached to my bed.
However, if you just want to come for the day, there are various means of transport into the city, such as train, bus or aeroplane.
Transportation: Paris has a very efficient underground system, although slightly confusing late at night. The underground train stops off close to all major tourist destinations making it easy and quick for tourists to get to and from each attraction without much fuss. The bus service and taxi’s are also another option. However the train is probably the cheapest and quickest.
Since we have covered accommodation and transportation, lets get into the Itinerary:
First stop, the Eiffel Tower. Wake up early, get your train to Trocadéro stop. The Trocadéro stop probably has one of the nicest views of the Eiffel Tower. If you get there early you probably will miss the long queue that will form during the day. It is also possible to pre-book your Eiffel Tower tickets and skip the queue. Go up to the top if you are not scared of heights. The view is magnificent. Remember to take a warm jersey or wind breaker, because even though it may not be windy on the ground, there may be a nippy wind up top.
Now that you have taken the iconic Eiffel Tower shot, the rest of the day can continue. The second stop is a walk to the Arc du Triomphe. Get yourself a map, because the Arc du Triomphe is in walking distance of the Eiffel Tower and you can take in the ambiance and culture of Paris’s gothic style architecture. The history of Paris is seen through its architecture whereby you can experience time travel back to the French Renaissance. At the Arc du Triomphe, do not attempt to cross the road to get to it. There is an underground pathway that can take you right to the centre. If you do fancy going to the top of the Arc du Triomphe, you can view the opening and closing times and prices here.
If you are a shopaholic like me, you are going to enjoy the next stop. The third stop is the Champs-Elysées. Home to all high street and high end designer labels. Lucky for you, it is one of the roads leading out of the circle around the Arc du Triomphe. The shops are beautifully decorated, especially during Christmas time. Since this is Paris in a day, I would not recommend to spend the whole day here, as there is so much more to see! Maybe a sneaky stop off at Ladurée for some macaroons will be a treat for all the walking that has been done.
Fourth stop is lunch. A famous bakery/restaurant Angelina’s is a great place to eat. There are many other places to eat in that area, as it is scattered with touristy restaurants. Do not forget to try some pastry whilst you are in France, it is simply the best. Much better than here in South Africa.
The fifth stop is the gardens outside the Louvre. This is right opposite Angelina’s. If you decide to end your day off here and explore the Louvre, I wish you luck, as it is very big and you can get very lost in time amongst the beautiful art work. The gardens are a beautiful part of the Louvre and are free! Great to take some photos of, to send back to mom and dad to show how much fun you are having.
The sixth stop is not really a stop but actually a meander along the Seine river. This way you can see Paris’s true beauty and buy a few souvenirs for yourself or loved ones. The river goes on forever, but if you carry on up the river you can make your way to the famous Notre Dame.
The seventh stop is the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. Notre Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral and is the home to the Hunchback of Notre Dame (haha). The cathedral is breathtaking inside and out, and from what I can remember, it is free entrance but a donation is always helpful to the church. Tickets can also can be booked to visit the bell tower. There are usually heaps of tourists queuing up outside the cathedral but don’t worry, the line usually goes fast as there are people constantly exiting the church.
From the Notre Dame you can walk to your next destination, but using the underground train service may be a better option depending on how tired your feet are and the weather conditions. The eighth stop is Napoleon’s Tomb. There are tons of museums around the area so you can always pop into them before closing time. At the back of the entrance to Napoleon’s Tomb is a nice area to have a picnic. If you pop into a grocery store along the way, do pick up a baguette and some cheese, a picnic could be a good last meal to a busy day. However, if this does not appeal to you, there are many restaurants around the area that could please your appetite.
The ninth stop to this busy day would be to go on a Paris evening cruise down the Seine. This way you can see the Eiffel tower light up at night and view the city during its night life. There are many companies that offer this opportunity, namely the Bateaux Parisiens. Seeing the Eiffel Tower light up is like being in a fairy tale and you get the feeling that true love does exist.
The tenth stop is made up of two options. First option is a cabaret. There are many to choose from around the city, the most famous being the Moulin Rouge in the Red Light District. Tickets for this get sold out fast, so if you plan to do this, you should book your tickets way in advance. The second option is go to a bar, particularly one in your hostel. Just in case you drink too much and need to crawl back to bed.
Tips: Always have a rain jacket and map on you, you may never know when you need both. I went during the summer season and it rained so much while I was there. Additionally there are many other attractions Paris has to offer and if you do plan on staying longer go check out the Catacombs and Palace of Versailles.
Now that you have your 24 hour Paris itinerary sorted, where to next?