CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

Explore Paris in a day

PUBLISHED: 16:09 26 January 2016

Eiffel Tower at dawn © Nitot

Eiffel Tower at dawn © Nitot

Archant

From sunrise at the Eiffel Tower to sunset at the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, our itinerary manages to squeeze in Paris’s main sights and attractions into one day – perfect for those with limited time in the French capital

If you want to see Paris in a day then you will need to make an early start, and what better way to start than watch the sun rise behind Paris’s most recognisable landmark? First, head to the Trocadéro and watch the sun cast a pinkish glow over the distinctive Palais de Chaillot. As it rises the sun backlights the Eiffel Tower, on the other side of the River Seine, turning this iconic monument into a shadow theatre.

After such an early start, a coffee break is in order. Carette is a stylish art-deco patisserie on the nearby Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre. Try the selection on colourful mini-macarons – one of its signature treats. For other breakfast ideas: the best breakfasts in Paris

Just down the road at the Cimetière de Passy, pay your respects to Impressionist painter Édouard Manet who was buried here in 1883, before heading to the Musée Marmottan Monet in Avenue Paul Doumer to admire the artist’s work. The museum also displays more then 300 works by Claude Monet and paintings by Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir among many others.

Flamme de la Liberte © Pierre de VilliersFlamme de la Liberte © Pierre de Villiers

Next, stroll down Rue de Passy towards the River Seine and also the Avenue de New York to the Flamme de la Limberté. The full-sized gold-leafed replica of the flame held by the Statue of Liberty is a glittering symbol of Franco-American friendship put up in 1989 to commemorate the centenary of the International Herald Tribune newspaper. For millions it is also an unofficial memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales, who was fatally injured in a car accident in the tunnel beneath the statue in 1997.

For lunch, head across the Pont de l’Alma and board the Cristal II run by Bateaux Parisiens. On board, you can drift down the River Seine and watch Paris float by. Some of the sights to look out for include the four gilded winged horses on the Pont Alexandre III, the Musée du Louvre, Pont Neuf and the Notre-Dame cathedral.

Back on dry land, explore the Left Bank. First, wander around the Musée d’Orsay with paintings including Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhône, Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players and Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian Women on the Beach. Ten minutes’ walk away is the Musée Rodin on Rue de Varenne where you can see his most famous sculptures The Thinker and The Kiss.

Musee d'Orsay © Paris Tourist Office / Sarah SergentMusee d'Orsay © Paris Tourist Office / Sarah Sergent

Back at the Seine, the ‘love locks’ have been removed from the Pont des Arts because the weight of them caused it to collapse. Further along, the Pont de l’Archevêché is still covered in padlocks but it won’t be long until they too are removed. There is a gorgeous view of the Notre Dame from here.

Across the road is Paris’s English-language bookshop Shakespeare and Company. The original opened in 1919 in Rue Dupuytren before moving to Rue de l’Odéon and attracted illustrious writers including Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway. This closed in 1940 and the current shop on Rue de la Bucherie opened in 1951. Somehow it remains quaint and charming, despite publicity gained from appearances in the films Midnight in Paris and Before Sunset.

Stop a few doors down for an aperitif at Le Petit Pont a hangout of students from the Sorbonne, or try Chez Prune café, opposite Canal Saint-Martin, a favourite of Brad Pitt according to the locals. Lived-in but lively, with odd décor, it has a lot of character and a charcuterie plate to die for. The Canal Saint-Martin is one of Paris’s trendiest neighbourhoods. Wall-art is everywhere and streets are packed with boutiques and coffee shops.

Sacre-Coeur at night © Paris Tourist Office / David LefrancSacre-Coeur at night © Paris Tourist Office / David Lefranc

By now sunset should be well on the way so climb up Montmartre to the Chez Plumeau restaurant with delicious meat dishes and, importantly, inspiring views. After dinner wander over to Sacré-Coeur and stand at the foot of the basilica as the sun sets over Paris.

Looking for more ideas for a day out in Paris?

Top things to do in Paris

8 things to do in Paris in the summer

The best luxury hotels in Paris

20 quotes about Paris

8 reasons to keep visiting Paris

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Friday, December 7, 2018

These welcoming and wonderful Christmas markets are just a short trip across the Channel away, so what are you waiting for?

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

When it’s cold outside, indulge your love of French food and drink at one of these stylish pop-ups and events closer to home

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Discover the Christmas delights of northern France with our top five Christmas markets in the region

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From lakeside jazz festivals to chestnut fairs, get stuck in with these events taking place across France in December 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 22, 2018

You can ditch the airport queues and long drives, and hit the rails instead, says Daniel Elkan. The French Alps has an abundance of ski resorts that suit families, easily accessed by train.

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Budget travellers can pay nothing to stay at bed and breakfasts around the world during Barter Week in exchange for manual, creative or teaching activities

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Find out when your favourite French ski resort opens and closes this year and start planning your ski trip to France

Read more
Winter trips
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Find out what events are taking place in France to commemorate the Armistice centenary.

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

The full route of the 2019 Tour de France was announced in Paris on 25 October

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

From hot air balloon gatherings to scallop festivals, there’s always something fun and unique going on in France in November

Read more
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now