Having just one day to spend in Paris can be a bit underwhelming, which is why I wrote this how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary. There is a lot to see and do in this French Capital and thus a single day here sounds like a punishment. It is like waiting as your favourite steak is prepared then you are called away as it is served. With this proper How to spend 24 hours in Paris schedule, however, you can manage to make a satisfying tour of the city of love.
But why would anyone be in Paris for just a day, some ask? Well, we have to accept to that our schedule is not always in our hands. You might find yourself on a business trip to the city that affords you only 24 hours- or less- of recreation. At other times, you may decide to do a personal challenge. I for instance, have always had this idea of travelling around seven cities in seven days.
In such situations, a well-pieced 24-hour itinerary is the best way to ensure you make the most out of such a short stay.
There are two things that always come in handy when making plans for a day-long (or is it day-short) tour of any glorious city:
- Always do some reading and research about the great places in the city
- Approach the city like a visitor
Locals tend to overlook the little beauties of their city. In adventure travel, these little things really do matter.
Spending 24 hours in Paris will require an itinerary to be prepared with more attentiveness than for most other cities. Besides the many places to be seen and things to be done, some of the city’s best locations are quite far spaced.
Here’s an easy how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary that will work for just about every adventure traveller. It is designed to help you sample the best of Paris in 24 hours without putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.
How to spend 24 hours in Paris – Morning
The first part of the how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary is the arrival. It depends squarely on your schedule for the days surrounding the 24 hours you want to spend touring Paris. If for example, you are in a conference for the three days preceding your tour, you will not need to arrive or look for alternative accommodation. But the how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary will still be useful for you on the day you intend to get around.
Paris is one of the best-connected world cities in terms of transport networks. Whether you travel by road, rail, air or water, there’s an entrance for you into this great city. It is, however, important to note that the immigration department is very strict at every entry point. This is especially so in the wake of terrorist attacks and attempts in recent times. In all fairness, it is all worth it if it will ensure the trip is safe and secure.
My preferred arrival means still remains by flight. There are numerous airlines charging affordable prices for tickets. I prefer Beauvais-Tillé to the busier Paris-Orly and Paris-Charles de Gaulle. Paris-Le Bourget is dedicated to private flights.
Arrive in the early hours of the night and book yourself a comfortable place to sleep so you are fresh for the day of touring ahead. Airbnb is a widely popular accommodation option in Paris. It makes a lot of sense to take Airbnb into consideration when thinking about how to spend 24 hours in Paris. You get a homely accommodation at a pocket-friendly rate.
A touring day always turns out to be productive when it starts out early. Even with a well-planned how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary, starting out late will see you rush through most of the times and most probably burn out before you can enjoy the most attractive areas.
I’m not saying that you should get inadequate sleep. If you are up at six, you will probably have rested enough and still have the entire 24 hours in Paris stretched out in front of you.
If you have an exercise routine, make it very light on this particular day. A few push-ups and stretches should be enough. Remember a lot of the activities you do during your 24 hours in Paris are physically engaging and will serve the same purpose as exercise.
Be ready by 7:30 a.m. Never forget to check out the day’s weather forecast and dress appropriately. A comfortable pair of shoes (I recommend half a size larger than normal) is a must-have. Then, of course, make sure your camera is as ready for the day as you are.
You really don’t want to miss out on capturing your Paris moments!
8am – 9am
The How to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary really starts with a good breakfast, which will set you in the mood to explore the city and the tone for an enjoyable day in Paris. It is literally the way to get the first taste of Paris. There are foods from all cultures in Paris, but a French breakfast beats them all.
A full breakfast will contain a bacon sandwich, bacon-topped sticky buns, Eggs Benedict and Maple syrup. This goes down well and warms you up in the chilly Paris morning. It is also energy packed to give you the required reserves without filling you up to lazy, uncomfortable levels.
If you intend to skip or go light on lunch, make your morning meal a brunch.
The cafes here are open from as early as 7 am. These are your best options:
All of them are all great places to start your day. The French hotel culture pays close attention even to people who prefer vegan diets. But it needs to be mentioned that Paris is not really a pocket friendly city, so bring a bit more money.
9am – 10am
The first big point on the How to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary is the Notre Dame Cathedral, which acts as the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Paris. It’s as famous for its architectural marvel as it is for religion. It is a breathtaking feature to behold from both the inside and the outside.
It is a great place to begin your visits and enjoy the Gothic style of French architecture. Packing it in the early morning section of the how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary will ensure you avoid the long queues of visitors that build up as the day progresses. Your 24 hour long schedule works in reverse to the usual visitor routine with a deliberate aim of avoiding too much queuing.
Inside the cathedral beat any height phobia by going up the pillar towers. Atop these, you get an unrestricted view of the city and great scenery to take photos. In the warm months of the year, you will find an early morning calm in the dewy and leafy gardens at the back of the cathedral. They are a picturesque scene and their scents are really uplifting.
The French are not overly religious, and the cathedral is famous more as an architectural rather than religious icon. The medieval structure is often referred to simply as the Notre Dame, a house of God and abode of men.
It was heavily destroyed during the revolution before being restored using French Gothic architecture.
10am – 12am
The How to spend 24 hours in Paris schedule definitely has to include a trip to France’s tallest construction called Eiffel Tower. Dedicate your mid-morning to visiting this 324-meter tall monument that is the most visited in the world. Find out what is it that attracts over six million people to the Eiffel Tower every other year.
The tower is made of wrought iron and has been standing since its commissioning in 1889. It is named after Gustave Eiffel, the engineer who oversaw its construction. It has become a French icon over time despite criticism in its early days. The lighting on the tower is often adjusted to communicate different moods of the city at different times of the year. These include moments of celebration –New Year’s, national holidays etc. – and moments of world sadness.
The Eiffel tower is the symbol of Paris even to people who have not been there. It might sound cliché, but this is the cover feature you will use to tell your stories of 24 hours in Paris. Worry not, though, the structure is so beautiful audiences rarely get bored watching it. You could still be a bit creative and take beautiful shots of the city from the tower’s elevation.
If you are a height-phobic, you will get just as much satisfaction walking around- and under the tower and exploring it from different angles. Alternatively, use the chance to overcome your fears!
How to spend 24 hours in Paris – Lunch
12am – 2pm
By the time you are through with the Eiffel Tower, you will definitely be needing a recharge. Good news; by then it should be about lunchtime, which is the next point on the How to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary. Lunch is a perfect time to sample more French servings and rest up ahead of the evening schedule.
I prefer a light lunch (having had an energy-packed breakfast) just to recharge for the remaining section of the day and avoid getting drowsy in the afternoon. This should, however, be another chance to sample the city’s offerings and enjoy your 24 hour stay in France.
Ever wondered how French fries would actually taste in France? Well, they do love making them here and they make amazing ones too. You could choose to pack takeaway and couple the lunch hour with a shopping round in the numerous boutiques within the city centre. Try one of the following:
These are just a few eateries within the city that can give an amazing lunch treat. Promised!
2pm – 4pm
Another big point from the how to spend 24 hours in Paris schedule is the Seine. You will have to follow the route to Quai Montebello travelling from the Notre-Dame. It is easy to find using your map app. Alternatively; you could hail a cab and just say ‘Seine.’
This is a wonderful location to begin your afternoon in this unique city. It is an easy activity that will allow you tranquillity as you digest your lunch.
Even if you may have taken a light lunch, walking in and around the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower will definitely have used up a good amount of your energy reserve. A visit to the Seine will only require you to sit and relax as you take a boat ride or watch from the banks.
What you’ll get
A one-hour boat cruise will give you a calm trip around the city. Most monuments are visible while on the cruise, and the sun against the Seine waters offers a great backdrop for your photography.
The river that has stood by Paris in all its years of existence definitely has a story to tell. On a boat cruise along the Seine, you will get to interact with the earliest forms of Parisian activity. You will also be able to enjoy picturesque views of the city from any of its bridges. The option of listening to commentary on the city’s history makes this section as calm as any activity of your 24 hours in Paris schedule can get.
The river cruise is, however, only possible between the months of March and November when the weather is relatively warm. In the winter months between November and March, this visit won’t make much sense in your how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary. Unless, of course, you just want to sit by the cold banks.
4pm – 7pm
Three hours visiting the city’s largest museum is what should take the lion’s share of the how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary. It will however not seem enough once you are onto it. Inside the Louvre Museum that hosts some of the world’s most famous art pieces, you will be taken up by stories behind these works from the artistic guides.
The Louvre is home to the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Millo statue. It is a spacious building with friendly guides and lots of curious art lovers. A visit to the museum is kind of therapeutic. Little wonder, then, that over eight million visitors made a trip to the Louvre in 2017.
Museums and art preservations are an outstanding feature of Paris. It would require at least a day to go through the museums alone, but remember we are planning for just 24 hours in Paris. Sorry!
How to spend 24 hours in Paris – Afternoon
7pm – 9pm
The French national stadium, called Stade-de France, is a monumental sporting ground inside the French capital. It’s also a big one on the How to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary. The Stade-de France has held some of the most iconic events, such as the football world cup and Euro finals. The national teams’ performances here have combined with its magnificent construction to make it a monumental structure.
9pm – 10pm
As you wind down the how to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary, another literal bite of the city will come in handy. These are good ones that open till late:
10pm – Open End
The French nightlife is quite lit. If you still have some energy reserves left, sampling it would be a great way to finish off the How to spend 24 hours in Paris itinerary.
The Oberkampf is among the most popular joints in the city. It has a relatively young crowd, is supercharged and sometimes even gets pretty rowdy. Nothing a party head can’t take though.
The Ménilmontant and Gambetta is a safe and welcoming area for tourists. Here, you are likely to bump into other visitors sampling the city by night and unlikely to walk into a trap.
Want to know more about another big capital? Read here
What could also interest you:
- Ultimate packing list – What’s in my Backpack?
- The best Travel Gear to explore the world
- What to pack for a short camping trip
- Best Travel Backpack – How to choose the right one?