48 hours might be a good start. But 24 hours to experience Paris ? That’s like challenging a friend to a dare, knowing full well they’ll struggle to be successful. But sometimes, 24 hours is all you have to explore. I’ve spent that much time in other parts of Europe when work or other obligations made it impossible to devote more time. With helpful tips from locals and a firm plan, I’ve gotten memorable first, second and third impressions of a number of places and the same can be done for Paris.
The real challenge is prioritizing what to see, do, eat, and drink in a city as experientially rich as Paris. So I’ve proposed two options for each of the below activities: one that leans more traditional (marquee musts for any tourist new to the city), while the other will be more local. Clement weather will be preferred/required for some of the experiences below.
There is a lot of ground to cover here so be strategic: if this is your first trip to Paris, focus on the center and western edge of the city which are the most dense in landmarks, shops and other places of interest (with convenient transit options to zip between activities seamlessly).
If this is a first trip, you’ll want a close look at the Eiffel Tower, its adjacent park Le Champs de Mars, the Arc de Triomphe, Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre, the Palais Royal gardens nearby and generally get a sense of the energy along the river Seine. My recommendation, which I cannot stress enough, particularly when time is limited, is to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe instead of the Eiffel Tower – it affords a stunning view of the avenues fanning out from the Place de l’Etoile and includes the Eiffel Tower.
If you’re a returning visitor, consider picking a neighborhood to explore. The Canal Saint-Martin section of the 10th arrondissement has a lovely array of shops, bakeries, fun coffee shops, laid back restaurants and a built-in hangout : the canal ! Or stroll through Montmartre, the village-like neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement that lords over the city.
Yes, it’s a quintessential tourist activity but Seine river cruises are an effective way to see a vast section of the city and takes the pressure off your feet. I’ve taken these boat rides several times in the decade I have lived in Paris – including with my family and friends when they come to visit – and the experience feel fresh every time. You can hop on and off at nine stations by taking the Batobus with a pass valid for 1-2 days. Otherwise, the Vedettes du Pont Neuf offer excellent cruises that last about 1.5-2 hours and cover major sites.
At some point, a stroll through Tuileries Gardens, Palais Royal and the area around the Louvre must factor into your itineraries. If you end up spending time in a particular neighborhood, like the Canal, you can also take an excellent canal tour by boat (Canauxrama) which will take you up through the 19th arrondissement.
Galeries Lafayette and are two of the city’s oldest and most iconic department stores that offer more than French and international fashion brands; they are sights to behold on their own and merit a quick visit. Located just behind the Neo-Baroque Opéra Garnier, you can take a tour of the Opera house and then head to the shops. The rooftops of both stores is open to the public and afford beautiful views.
To a get a sense of goods are trending among locals, head to Colette, the city’s leading concept store with displays that change weekly. If you opt for a tour of the 10th arrondissement, the street to consider is rue de Marseille where you’ll find Medecine Douce, a shop specialized in elegant handmade jewelry, and the Centre Commercial, a multi-brand shop that carries European-only designers with an eco bent, among other stores.
40 boulevard Haussmann, 75009
213 rue Saint-Honore, 75001
10 rue de Marseille, 75010
2 Rue de Marseille, 75010
Save your seated dining for dinner and take your breakfast and lunch to-go. A pastry from Pierre Hermé’s rue Bonaparte boutique or from Secco boulangerie in the 7th arrondissement will start the day off right. Or, if you’re in the 1st arrondissement near the Louvre/Palais Royal, go for a coffee and homemade financier at Télescope Café. On the city’s east side, pick up a coffee from Ten Belles or HolyBelly and swing by Liberté pâtisserie or Du Pain et Des Idées for a hearty loaf or sweet treat. For dinner, Daniel Rose’s revival bistro La Bourse et La Vie will satisfy both the diners looking for a traditional French meal and those who seek out establishments helmed by the city’s leading chefs.
72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006
20 rue Jean Nicot, 75007
5 rue Villedo, 75002
10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010
19 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010
Du Pain et des Idées
34 rue Yves Toudic, 75010
La Bourse et La Vie
12 rue Vivienne, 75002
And by drink I don’t mean coffee. There are several excellent options here. On the left bank, go to a wine bar like Freddy’s or L’Avant Comptoir for an excellent selection of wines and small plates before taking a stroll along the Seine. For cocktail lovers, there’s the legendary (but pricey) Hemingway Bar in the recently re-opened Ritz Hotel, Le Mary Celeste, or L’Entrée des Artistes Pigalle. And for the indiscriminating drinker, looking to kill two birds with one stone, head straight for Les Berges de Seine, the river banks between the Musée d’Orsay and the Alma Marceau bridge where riverside barges and bars guarantee the view and the tipple.
54 rue de Seine, 75006
3 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006
’24 hours in…’ Blogger Competition with Accor Hotels :
Have you experienced Paris in only 24 hours ? What would make your must-see list ? You could win a nine-night trip to Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin for two, including travel and accommodation, by creating a blog post or video post outlining YOUR perfect 24 hours (in Paris or another city of your choosing), including “must-do” attractions, stops to eat and drink. Click here for details!
Ps. I will be on the jury that will assess shortlisted entries – I can’t wait to see what you put together!
This post was published in association with Accor Hotels.