24 Hours in Paris – A Guide to a Perfect 1 Day in Paris

1 day in Paris

Ah, Paris. One of the most beautiful, culturally significant cities in the world, packed with amazing restaurants, incredible museums, and iconic sights. As a former resident of the City of Lights, I can tell you that no amount of time is enough in Paris. Unfortunately, we can’t always spend weeks exploring a dream destination, and sometimes, we only have a day. Since living in Paris, I’ve had several people ask me for short trip itineraries, sometimes even for just 1 day in Paris! I decided to create the ultimate guide to spending 24 hours in Paris, but I’ve broken it down into categories so you can choose the itinerary that best suits your interests and travel style!

How Should You Spend 24 Hours in Paris?

24 Hours for Art Lovers

Paris is known for its incredible museums and amazing artistic history, so it’s a perfect destination for art lovers! From Renaissance art at the Louvre to contemporary art at the Palais de Tokyo (and the street art you can find all over the city), there’s so much art to enjoy in Paris!

Where to Stay: If you love impressionist art and want to walk in the footsteps of the likes of Van Gogh and Picasso, stay in Montmartre. This neighborhood was popular with Belle Epoch artists during their heyday, and they often took inspiration from its windy streets and beautiful views of the city. Today, the area is a little touristy, but it still retains some of that artistic charm. Want to stay a little closer to the center of the city near the most famous museums? Stay in Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the 6th arrondissement.

What to Do: As I said before, there are so many amazing museums and galleries in Paris, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see amazing art during your 1 day in Paris! I’ve written a full guide to art museums in Paris that can help you decide which to visit! Don’t want to spend all day in a museum? Take a street art walking tour or follow in the footsteps of a famous artist by visiting their old studios and apartments! This guide to Picasso’s Paris is a great place to start if you want to go where Picasso went when he lived in Paris!

Where to Eat: Paris is constantly changing, but some restaurants and cafes have lasted over a century in this ever-evolving city. Today, you can eat and drink in cafes that famous 20th-century artists once frequented! Several restaurants boast notable clientele, but a few of my favorites are Café de Flore, Café de la Rotonde, and Le Dôme Café.

24 Hours for Foodies

Paris is heaven for food lovers like me, and there are so many ways to indulge your foodie side in this city.

Where to Stay: For an unbeatable gastronomic experience, book a room at Fauchon L’Hôtel– a boutique hotel created by Fauchon, a French gourmet food company. I haven’t stayed here yet, but I’ve loved Fauchon (and their decadent pastries) ever since I lived in Paris. The hotel offers guests a range of gourmet experiences, including an in-room selection of complimentary Fauchon treats, catered to their preferences! The hotel’s location, near the Madeline, is also perfect for exploring the fashionable 8th arrondissement.

What to Do: Spend a day immersed in Parisian food culture by visiting markets and trying classic French foods! If you’re visiting on a Sunday, check out the giant market at the Bastille- it has everything from cheese to meat to antiques! You could join a food tour, but I recommend making a list of the French foods you want to try and exploring on your own! Check out my post about my favorite French foods for inspiration! If you have time, I recommend taking a French cooking or baking class. I took a macaron class at Le Foodist and learned how these adorable sweets are made, and I really enjoyed it!

Where to Eat: There are so many amazing places to eat in Paris- from delicious street food stalls to impressive, Michelin-starred restaurants. I’ve written a guide to my favorite restaurants in Paris– check it out if you want to know where I love eating when I visit the French capital. If you’re looking for a unique gastronomic experience, combine sightseeing and gourmet dining with Bustronome- a luxury dinner bus tour! It might sound weird, but it’s an amazing way to see the city! (I’ve written a full, unsponsored review here.)

24 Hours for Super Sightseers

Is this your first time visiting Paris? You won’t be able to see everything Paris has to offer in 1 day, but you can cross a number of sights of your list if you maximize your time!

Where to Stay: Stay in the center of the city near a metro station so you can easily get to most of the major monuments! I recommend staying in the 1st arrondissement or in the 6th arrrondissement near Saint-Michel.

What to Do: Start your day at one of the famous museums, like the Louvre or d’Orsay to see some of the city’s most notable works of art! After that, take a walk through the center of the city and visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, Tuileries Gardens, and Place de Concorde! Walk down the Champs-Élysées, Paris’s famous shopping street, and visit the Arc de Triomphe! End your day at the Eiffel Tower to watch it sparkle (which happens every hour, on the hour after the sun sets until 1 or 2 AM, depending on the time of year).

Where to Eat: Grab a croissant or pan au chocolat for breakfast on the way to your first stop of the day, and enjoy a quick lunch at a French cafe while you’re touring the city. In the evening, I’d recommend taking a Seine dinner cruise so you can see the city at night while also enjoying a relaxing meal!

24 Hours for Laid Back Travelers – My Ideal 24 Hours in Paris

Now that I’ve laid out three potential itineraries for 1 day in Paris, here’s what I would do! I lived in Paris for six months and have visited several times since, so I don’t feel any pressure to see all the “must-visit” sights that a tourist visiting Paris for the first time would want to see. For me, short trips to Paris are best spent taking in the city, enjoying the little things that make Paris “Paris.” I would stay at a hotel in the 1st arrondissement so I could easily walk to lots of attractions, restaurants, and shopping! I would spend my morning wandering through the center of the city, walking through the Tuileries Garden and passing the Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral. For lunch, I’d find a brasserie or bistro and sit down for a 3-course French menu du jour and enjoy people watching while I eat.

After lunch, I’d either head to a museum that I wanted to revisit or to Le Marais to window shop and explore! Just before sunset, I’d head to the Champ de Mars by the Eiffel Tower with a bottle of wine, a baguette, and cheese to watch the sun go down with a view of Paris’s most iconic sight. After seeing the Eiffel Tower’s first light show of the night, I would go to dinner at a classic French restaurant like Au Bon Acceuil before heading back to the center of the city. Paris is just as magical at night as it is during the day, so I’d take a quick walk around the Ille de la Cite or the Latin Quarter before going back to the hotel for the night! The next morning, I would go to a boulangerie to pick up croissants and espresso before leaving.

1 Day in Paris – Maximizing a Quick Trip to the City of Lights

Even though one day isn’t enough time to see every major attraction in Paris, you can still cover a lot of ground and see the sights most important to you by personalizing your itinerary to your travel style and interests! Which plan would you choose? Let me know in the comments, or tell me your unique 24 hours in Paris itinerary!

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